Title 16

Chapter 97.1
Education Accountability Act

R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-97.1-2

§ 16-97.1-2. Additional duties of the department of education related to school and district accountability.

(a) In order to support the commissioner and the board of education (the “board”) in fulfilling their duties, the department shall use existing budgetary resources and existing personnel in its implementation of improvement plans pursuant to this section. The department shall:

(1) Provide a mechanism to review and report on the efforts of schools, charter schools, and school districts, including regional school districts, to improve the academic achievement of their students;

(2) Inform and assist the board in fulfilling their broader responsibilities to promote high levels of achievement in the schools and districts of the state;

(3) Be, for purposes of school and district accountability, under the direction and supervision of one individual who shall be appointed by the commissioner. This individual shall be responsible for:

(i) The direction and supervision of the targeted assistance and intervention efforts of the department under this chapter;

(ii) Such assistance efforts as the commissioner deems necessary to correct deficiencies identified by the department;

(iii) Compliance with the accountability provisions of federal law; and

(iv) Ensuring that the education reviewing and assistance functions of the department are aligned to promote collaboration and communication across the education reviewing and assistance functions;

(4) Ensure that school and district review teams include experienced practitioners in the field of education, except that no member shall have been previously or currently employed by:

(i) The school, district, or charter school being reviewed; or

(ii) A district, charter school, or education collaborative serving a common student population with the school, district, or charter school being reviewed;

(5) Act as an education reviewing body, objectively reviewing the results of educational measurement and tests conducted by or for the department in implementing the laws under this chapter. In executing this subsection, the department shall:

(i) Perform no fewer than five (5) school district education reviews annually, sixty percent (60%) of which shall be in districts whose students achieve at low levels either in absolute terms or relative to districts that educate similar student populations. The remainder of the education reviews shall be divided equally among districts whose students achieve at high levels relative to districts that educate similar student populations and randomly selected districts;

(ii) Ensure that no school or district is reviewed during the administration of any statewide assessments;

(iii) Coordinate with other entities in the department to ensure that a school or district is not subject to multiple comprehensive education reviews or reviews by the department or any accrediting body within a nine-month (9) period, unless the board specifically votes to do so on an emergency basis;

(iv) Have the following duties relative to school district reviews:

(A) Objectively review the school and district reports;

(B) Undertake inspections of schools, charter schools, and school districts, including regional school districts, to evaluate efforts to improve and support the quality of instruction and administration;

(C) Review the district’s RICAS success plan, if one was required pursuant to law, and evaluate the implementation of that plan;

(D) Review the district’s implementation of any RICAS grants received to develop or enhance academic support services for students scoring below proficient or its equivalent;

(E) Evaluate the alignment of curriculum and professional development plans with the state curriculum and assessments;

(F) Review the progress of overall student achievement;

(G) Evaluate student performance, school and district management, overall district governance, and any other areas deemed necessary by the department; and

(H) Ensure the education reviews are conducted in accordance with standards established by the council of elementary and secondary education;

(v) Following the school district’s education review, produce a comprehensive report detailing its findings and observations, which the commissioner shall present to the council along with any recommendations for further action to be taken by the council. After the council’s receipt of the report, the commissioner shall issue recommendations to districts not requiring further action relative to methods for improving any deficiencies identified by the department. The recommendations shall be transmitted to the reviewed district’s superintendent and school committee within ninety (90) days of the council’s receipt of the report; and

(vi) Annually compile a report of best practices from the list of education reviews conducted that year and distribute the compiled list to all school districts in the state;

(6) For the purposes of any inspection or education review, have access to all necessary papers, vouchers, books, and records pertaining to a school, including a charter school, a school district, or a regional school district;

(7) In establishing protocols for the conduct of school or district education reviews, to the extent practicable, minimize the administrative burden on schools and districts by using existing, recently-compiled or readily-available data sources. Schools, school districts, and school personnel shall cooperate with the department for any inspection or education review conducted pursuant to this section including, but not limited to, participating in interviews and producing books and documents. Each school district, including regional school districts and charter schools, shall annually file with the department, on or before October 1, a copy of its current personnel contracts and collective bargaining agreements in a form and manner prescribed by the commissioner. The department shall ensure that any noncompliance with law, misfeasance, or malfeasance shall be referred to the commissioner for appropriate action;

(8) Support the commissioner and the council in carrying out their duties under sections related to underperforming schools. Nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting the ability of the department to contract with individuals, external partners, or other entities to support the assistance functions established by said sections.

(b) The department shall transmit its findings, education review reports, recommendations, and follow-up reports to the council on elementary and secondary education, the attorney general, and a local public library in the education reviewed districts. In addition, the department shall appear annually before the health, education and welfare committee of the house of representatives and before the senate education committee, to report on these findings, reviews, recommendations, and other reports.

History of Section.
P.L. 2019, ch. 224, § 6; P.L. 2019, ch. 259, § 6.