“It’s Not About the Test” - RI Education Commissioner Defends PARCC to MCAS Switch
Thursday, May 04, 2017
Wagner discussed his upcoming “State of Education” presentation scheduled for Monday May 8 - as well as the announcement made just before the show by the League of Rhode Island Charter Schools that the waiting list for the next school year is longer than ever.
WATCH FULL INTERVIEW BELOW
“We can’t ignore demand — there are thousands of students who want out of district schools,” said Wagner in the wide-ranging interview. “You have students who wake up in the mornings and all they care about is arts, or languages, or science. We’re pretending kids are all the same, and they’re not.”
Wagner’s remarks came following former Massachusetts education official Dr. Sandra Stotsky took issue with Rhode Island’s move to the MCAS “2.0” system and raised questions about the rigor — and oversight — of the statewide testing system.
According to data compiled by the Rhode Island Department of Education - -and released Wednesday by the League of Charter Schools — public charters in Rhode Island received a record total of 15,430 applications for the 1,770 open seats that will be available for the 2017-18 school year. In their release, the League reported that number represents an increase of 5.5% over the previous record of 14,628 set just last year, and translates to approximately nine applications for every available seat.
Wagner spoke to the criticisms levied by Stotksy — and parents — about the the new statewide assessment system.
“I say it’s not about the test — even the switch from PARCC to MCAS, it’s not like one test was good, and one test was bad,” said Wagner. “The test is just a common measure across different communities.”
“But that’s a minimal entry point. You have to focus on improving teaching and learning,” continued Wagner. “Massachusetts is a national leader in education — we can learn from them, they can learn from us. We’re trying to do commons sense initiatives that make sense to people in communities, not [just] education wonks like me… Massachusetts is a leader and we can partner with them and learn from them.”
Related Slideshow: The Power List - Health and Education, 2016
Russell Carey - A name few outside of Brown’s campus know, but Carey is the power source at the Providence Ivy League institution.
Today, his title is Executive Vice President and he has had almost every title at Brown short of President. Carey is a 1991 graduate of Brown and has never left College Hill.
While Brown’s President Christine Paxson — who is functionally invisible in Rhode Island — is managing alumni affairs and fundraising, Carey is influencing almost everything in Rhode Island.
Top Raimondo Appointment
Nicole Alexander-Scott - MD, MPH, and rock star in the making. As Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, she is fast developing a reputation as someone in the Raimondo Administration who can get things done. Her counsel and leadership on developing a strategy on opioid addiction has been widely been lauded.
In addition, she has handled the mundane - from beach closings to food recalls - with competency. An expert in infectious disease, it may be time for her to become a strong leader on Zika.
Ronald Machtley - Bryant University's President rightfully deserves to be on a lot of lists, but what few understand is that Machtley’s influence extends far beyond Bryant’s campus in Smithfield. Machtley could make this list as a business leader or as a political force as much as for education.
Machtley is recognized for transforming Bryant University from a financially struggling regional college to a university with a national reputation for business.
Machtley serves on Amica’s Board and the Rhode Island Foundation, and also serves on the Board of Fantex Brands.
Larry Purtill - While Bob Walsh gets the face time as the Executive Director in the media for the NEA of Rhode Island, NEARI President Purtill tends to be the inside man who gets things done.
The teachers' largest union is formidable, but is still reeling from the beat down it took when Gina Raimondo’s pension reform cut the benefits of teachers disproportionately over other employee groups.
Make no mistake about it - not much happens in education in Rhode Island without Purtill's sign-off.
Mim Runey - While Rhode Islanders wait, and wait some more, for development on the 195 land, Johnson and Wale's University's Runey is watching it come to fruition, as JWU is set to open the first completed building on the former Interstate on September 1, when it will host a ribbon cutting for its John J. Bowen Center for Science and Innovation.
Under Runey, JWU continues to establish its foothold as one of the country's top schools for culinary training. Now Runey will oversee the addition of the new building on the old 195 which will house the university's School of Engineering and Design and its biology program.
In 2015, students from the School of Engineering & Design participated in the construction of the Holocaust Memorial on South Main Street, a collaboration between the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island and the Holocaust Education Resource Center of Rhode Island.
A true community partner in every sense, JWU under Runey's watchful eye is expanding to an even greater presence in Providence.
Chairman of the Board
Edwin J. Santos - The former banker is Chairman of the Board of CharterCare, after having been a top executive at Citizens Bank. He has been a board leader for Crossroads, Washington Trust, Rocky Hill School -- you name it and Santos has helped to lead it.
His best work to date just might be at CharterCare, where he has helped the once fledgling hospital (Roger Williams Medical Center) into a growing hospital system.
Weber Shill - He serves as the Chief Executive Officer of University Orthopedics, or in other words, dozens and dozens of oh-so-confident docs.
Shill has a background in Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration from the Whitemore School at the University of New Hampshire. Experienced in managing medical groups, but this group is big and influential.
Timothy Babineau - President and CEO of Lifespan, Rhode Island's biggest healthcare organization, where financial challenges make the job that much more complicated.
Now, the critics (GoLocalProv included) are raising concerns about the multi- billion dollar organization's refusal to make any contribution to the City of Providence. Lifespan is like General Motors, big and hard to innovate the organization.
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