Report details issues inside R.I. schools since start of pandemic

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – A report released by the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council reveals an in-depth look at how schools have been operating since the beginning of the pandemic.

The report is based on expert research showing that in-person is better for student’s education than distance learning.

The Governor asked that all schools be fully open by October 13, but according to RIPEC’s report, at that date, only nine of 36 were open. In addition, at that date, one third of students in Rhode Island had access to full in-person learning, half had partial access and one-eighth had none at all.

“Rhode Island was already struggling with an unequal education experience between high and low income,” Michael Dibiase, President of RIPEC said. “It was troubling that the fully open districts were all suburban and rural. The districts that were most closed were by-in-large the lower income, lower performing districts.”

Dibiase says that’s concerning because lower income districts have less access to technology and internet.

The report detailed a survey where 11% of families in Providence said they did not have reliable access to devices and 8% did not have access to internet. In Cranston, 9% of students were sharing devices with another family member.

Dibiase says while districts have improved access to technology since the spring, internet is still a big question.

“I think the public deserves a record of how many students don’t have a connection to the remote instruction that is the only thing we’re offering?” Dibiase said.

The analysis also found a wide range of distance learning strategies from school to school. While most teachers got training on remote instruction, it wasn’t mandatory.

Attendance rates also fluctuated by district. While Lincoln saw a 5.3% increase in attendance this year, Central Falls reported a 12.8% decrease.

“We need to think about the model,” Dibiase said. “Is leaving it to small districts to figure out distance learning is that really how we should be running this system?”

This problem isn’t unique to Rhode Island, in fact, it’s happening across the country.

Dibiase says we are in the middle of a pandemic and there are bound to be problems. To identify those problems, he says schools need to be taking student assessments, but federally mandated tests like the SATs and other state assessments were cancelled, so there’s a lack of data to figure out the extent of learning loss.

To view the report, click here:

RIPEC COVID Education Report FINAL (1)

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Our Schools, Providence