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Christine Lopes Metcalfe: Giving Students the Tools for Success

Thursday, February 27, 2014

 

There has been much debate in the last few months about the Common Core State Standards, what they are and what they are not and if they are what's best for kids in our state. While a healthy debate on policy and standards is always an important part of any change, we must separate fact from fiction and have a real discussion about Common Core and what it means for schools in Rhode Island.

What exactly are the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)? Adopted by 45 states and Washington, D.C., CCSS are new, universal guidelines for what students should master at every grade level to graduate with the skills they need to thrive after high school. Prior to the adoption of these standards, what one student was expected to know by fourth grade in one state could have been completely different than what was expected from a fourth-grader in another state. But why is that important? States across the country had a variety of different standards and benchmarks that ranged from high to low. With the bar equalized, we now know that students across the country are being held to the same rigorous standards that are critical to preparing them to compete with each other and globally in a 21st century economy.

New standards was a state led initiative

Creation of the new standards was a state-led initiative started in 2007 by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Part of that process included teachers, parents, school administrators, state leaders, and experts from across the country providing input in the development of the standards. The Common Core standards are clear, consistent and actually consist of fewer standards that allow educators to dive deeper into content and critical thinking. The Common Core State Standards are not designed to tell teachers what to teach – they are an outline of what students should know. This is reflected in a 2013 survey that showed 77% of teachers support the Common Core.

States that voluntary adopted CCSS were also able to adapt parts of the standards to better fit their state’s needs and allow districts to chose and create their own curriculums to match. The Common Core focuses on developing skills employers want and employees need to be competitive: critical thinking, not just memorizing facts and figures.

In addition to the need for common standards, Rhode Island is among the states that need more rigorous benchmarks to ensure students are ready for their post-secondary challenges, whether in college or career. Rhode Island high school students often graduate unprepared to succeed in college: in the 2012-13 school year, 69 percent of the students had to enroll in at least one remedial course at CCRI, costing students around $5.4 million —all without earning college credit .

Changing future outcomes

The need for students to succeed in life after high school with some type of post-secondary training has never been more crucial for Rhode Island. With unemployment at 9%, the very highest in the country and a growing skills gap, the first place we must look to change future outcomes is in our schools. According to the new report “Rhode to Work,” a legislative action plan for workforce development created by the Rhode Island Senate, “more than 50% of jobs in 2020 will require some form of post-secondary education or training. ” With only around 30% of Rhode Islanders possessing a bachelor’s degree or higher and job growth in middle and skilled level jobs growing faster than entry-level and lower skilled work, the imperative is clear: Rhode Island needs higher standards and better outcomes from its education system.

Change is never easy and can be daunting to many, but it’s necessary in our state right now. By adopting and implementing Common Core, we are one step closer to giving our students the skills not just to succeed in their own careers but to revitalize Rhode Island’s economy and put our state back to work.

Christine Lopes Metcalfe is the executive director of RI-CAN: The Rhode Island Campaign for Achievement Now, an education advocacy organization working to enact smart public policies so that every Rhode Island child has access to a great public school.

 

Related Slideshow: Rhode Island School Superintendent Salaries

Below are the salaries of school superintendents in Rhode Island, starting with the lowest paid. Data is for 2013 and was provided by the state Division of Municipal Finance. Where relevant, longevity pay is also listed. All school superintendents are listed except those in the independent school districts in Foster and Glocester. The combined Foster-Glocester district is included. In order to provide a more informed basis for comparing superintendents from one community to another, the annual student enrollment and total expenditures are also listed. (The data is for fiscal year 2012, the latest available from the state Department of Education.)

Prev Next

34. New Shoreham

Superintendent Robert Hicks

Salary: $45,280

District Profile

Student Body Size: 112

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $4,443,923

Note: Position is part-time.

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33. Little Compton

Superintendent Kathryn M. Crowley

Salary: $63,500

District Profile

Student Body Size: 295

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $6,995,203

Note: Position is part-time.

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32. Jamestown

Superintendent Marcia Lukon

Salary: $67,039

District Profile

Student Body Size: 481

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $12,049,735

Note: Position is part-time.

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31. Johnston

Superintendent Bernard DiLullo, Jr.

Salary: $121,456

Longevity Pay: $2,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 2,917

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $50,452,203

Salary includes longevity pay.

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30. Tiverton

Superintendent William J. Rearick

Salary: $125,032

District Profile

Student Body Size: 1,738

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $28,715,478

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29. North Providence

Superintendent Melinda Smith

Salary: $127,600

District Profile

Student Body Size: 3,301

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $47,235,638

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28. North Smithfield

Superintendent Stephen Lindberg

Salary: $129,854

District Profile

Student Body Size: 1,704

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $23,498,113

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27. Portsmouth

Superintendent Lynn Krizic

Salary: $132,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 2,590

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $36,591,167

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26. West Warwick

Superintendent Karen Tarasevich

Salary: $134,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 3,374

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $53,918,748

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25. Exeter-West Greenwich

Superintendent James H. Erinakes II

Salary: $135,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 1,678

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $32,331,544

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24. Narragansett

Superintendent Katherine E. Sipala

Salary: $138,485

District Profile

Student Body Size: 1,407

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $26,850,371

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23. Burrillville

Superintendent Frank Pallotta

Salary: $139,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 2,418

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $31,681,821

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22. Smithfield

Superintendent Robert O'Brien

Salary: $141,481

District Profile

Student Body Size: 2,349

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $34,311,788

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21. Foster-Glocester

Superintendent Michael S. Barnes

Salary: $141,756

District Profile

Student Body Size: 1,226

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $18,267,711

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20. Bristol-Warren

Superintendent Melinda Thies

Salary: $142,550

Longevity Pay: $2,550

District Profile

Student Body Size: 3,454

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $51,591,792

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19. East Greenwich

Superintendent Victor Mercurio

Salary: $144,279

District Profile

Student Body Size: 2,323

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $32,975,952

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18. East Providence

Superintendent Kim Mercer

Salary: $144,279

District Profile

Student Body Size: 5,338

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $77,242,920

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17. Central Falls

Superintendent Frances Gallo

Salary: $144,900

District Profile

Student Body Size: 2,724

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $51,519,366

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16. Coventry

Superintendent Michael Almeida

Salary: $145,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 4,970

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $67,620,141

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15. Cranston

Superintendent Judith Lundsten

Salary: $145,083

District Profile

Student Body Size: 10,030

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $140,651,662

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14. North Kingstown

Superintendent Phillip Auger

Salary: $145,352

District Profile

Student Body Size: 4,398

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $61,636,874

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13. Westerly

Superintendent Roy Seitsinger

Salary: $146,477

District Profile

Student Body Size: 3,030

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $55,015,253

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12. Barington

Superintendent Michael Messore

Salary: $147,500

District Profile

Student Body Size: 3,101

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $44,851,748

Note: Salary includes longevity pay.

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11. Chariho

Superintendent Barry J. Ricci

Salary: $149,030

District Profile

Student Body Size: 3,421

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $55,831,939

Note: District includes towns of Charlestown, Richmond, and Hopkinton.

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10. Lincoln

Superintendent Georgia Fortunato

Salary: $149,130

District Profile

Student Body Size: 3,236

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $49,551,778

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9. Woonsocket

Superintendent Giovanna M. Donoyan

Salary: $150,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 5,636

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $77,022,482

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8. Scituate

Superintendent Paul R. Lescault

Salary: $150,098

District Profile

Student Body Size: 1,492

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $22,330,940

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7. South Kingstown

Superintendent Kristen Stringfellow

Salary: $151,008

District Profile

Student Body Size: 3,393

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $59,950,442

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6. Middletown

Superintendent Rosemarie K. Kraeger

Salary: $154,059

District Profile

Student Body Size: 2,360

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $37,340,131

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5. Newport

Superintendent John H. Ambrogi

Salary: $155,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 2,005

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $39,683,489

Prev Next

4. Cumberland

Superintendent Philip Thorton

Salary: $158,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 4,470

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $55,508,846

Prev Next

3. Pawtucket

Superintendent Deborah A. Cylke

Salary: $159,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 9,072

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $112,889,497

Prev Next

2. Warwick

Superintendent Richard D'Agostino

Salary: $169,371

Longevity Pay: $2,480

District Profile

Student Body Size: 9,487

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $162,729,013

Prev Next

1. Providence

Superintendent Susan Lusi

Salary: $190,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 22,432

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $364,621,277

 
 

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