Republican gubernatorial candidate Kalus pledges to revamp RI education testing
PROVIDENCE — Republican gubernatorial candidate Ashley Kalus has vowed not to seek re-election in 2026 if statewide test scores do not improve to pre-pandemic levels, but later said that She would seek to move away from the Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System (RICAS) exam in favor of multiple assessments during the school year.
At a press conference in downtown Providence on Wednesday, Kalus said his vision to be “education governor” also includes funding universal pre-kindergarten, revising the funding formula state schools and the possibility for students attending failing schools to attend better neighboring schools. districts.
“I’m not satisfied with the quality of education for our children,” Kalus said. “I want to give them a world-class education. education is [the] civil rights issue of our time. Education is the great equalizer. This is what allows you to access opportunities.
Kalus is running against incumbent Democratic Governor Dan McKee in the Nov. 8 general election. Libertarian Elijah Gizzarelli and independent candidates Zachary Hurwitz and Paul Rianna Jr. are also running for the state’s highest office.
Regarding testing, Kalus said she favors offering multiple tests during the school year that can track progress rather than a single exam towards the end of the school year. Each school district already holds several intermediate tests each year, and federal law requires students in grades three through eight to be tested annually in math and reading/language arts, as well as once in high school.
Kalus said she would make the same pledge as Democratic runner-up Helena Foulkes, who has vowed not to seek re-election if test results do not improve.
Rhode Island has taken several statewide exams in recent years, moving from the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) to the College Readiness Assessment Partnership and to Career (PARCC) before finally settling on the RICAS exam in 2018. The test is similar to the one administered in Massachusetts.
In the 2020-2021 school year, only 33% of students in grades three to eight were considered proficient in English and 20% were doing grade level math. The results of the last school year should be published before Christmas.
Kalus said she would support an exam that can be taken during the school year to track progress, but it’s unclear if that would qualify under the federal Every Student Achievement Act. .
Kalus also didn’t offer pricing for its bigger proposals — universal pre-kindergarten and expanded school choice — but that could be pricey. State leaders have estimated that pre-kindergarten for every 3- and 4-year-old child in Rhode Island could cost $140 million a year, though that includes local, state and federal funding.
As Rhode Island politicians, including McKee, often say, Kalus said she wants to model the state’s education plans on Massachusetts, which has some of the best public schools in the country. She acknowledged that would require working with the predominantly Democratic legislature and teachers’ unions.
As for state education commissioner Angélica Infante-Green, Kalus said she would expect all department chairs to resign and reapply if elected. but she also said she was unhappy with the progress of the state takeover. The schools of Providence. Infante-Green’s contract does not expire until 2025.
McKee was considered one of Rhode Island’s most education-focused politicians when he was mayor of Cumberland, helping to launch highly successful mayor-controlled charter schools in the Blackstone Valley, Providence and Woonsocket.
McKee used to clash with teachers’ unions over his support for charter schools, but the National Education Association Rhode Island endorsed him in the Democratic primary for governor. He also helped resolve the state’s contentious contract negotiation with the Providence Teachers Union in 2021.