If there is one theme to assessments of Rhode Island’s workforce, it is that its members are not prepared for the jobs of today or tomorrow. And much of the blame for that shortcoming has been placed on the state’s educational system.
Over the last few years, however, there have been positive signs. State Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist has fought hard to implement changes, including making sure a high school diploma means something more than having attended a public school for a dozen years.
One piece of this last effort has been the addition of the New England Common Assessment Program tests to the battery of evaluative data that school districts can use to determine if a student should be graduated.
Originally set to be actively used beginning in 2012, the testing requirement was delayed until this year. Now the General Assembly has added another three-year moratorium on the rule’s implementation.
Driven by constituent complaints, the General Assembly has done exactly what Rhode Island does not need.
Undermining the strong efforts to improve the state’s education system is a signal to the rest of the country (and especially to those businesses that might be considering expanding or locating here) that Rhode Island really isn’t taking this reform stuff all that seriously. And we all will pay for it in the end. •
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