Our Message to the Community
Dear Providence Community,
We are about to take the next major step in the historic process of transformational change in the Providence Public School District (PPSD), a system that has suffered from decades of neglect and poor performance.
Since the state intervention in Providence began on November 1, 2019, our work has been focused on gathering information, assessing immediate needs, and participating in an unprecedented community engagement process. These efforts gave us the input and inspiration to craft a visionary document that embraces a transparent approach to fixing a broken system, with a specific focus on students first, equity, transparency, results, and ultimately, high expectations for all.
We must not and will not fail another generation of students and families. This Turnaround Action Plan (TAP) will serve as our guide through the first phase of this work over the next five years, as we work with focus and determination to create a model public school system where every student can receive a world-class education. There will be challenges along the way, change is always difficult, but necessary. That is the work we intend to do, and this plan serves as our blueprint.
Last June, the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy released a sobering evaluation of the Providence schools. The findings of the Johns Hopkins report pointed to a system that is paralyzed by an antiquated governance structure and an inefficient bureaucracy. The report found that: low levels of academic instruction exist throughout the system, including the lack of an aligned curriculum; school culture is broken and safety is a daily concern for all; teachers are set up to fail and feel unsupported by the system; and parents feel shut out of their children’s education. None of this was, or is, acceptable. To reverse decades of inaction, we have set a course for transformational change in PPSD that will fully embrace a progressive and comprehensive plan that is culturally responsive, anti-racist, and is reflective of a data-driven approach to reform that puts students first.
Every student in Providence deserves to be enrolled in a world-class school. Three pillars guide our vision for success in the TAP:
- Engaged Communities: Transparent and authentic family and community engagement initiatives that respond to the unique needs of students and families will be implemented district-wide. Consistent culturally sensitive communications from schools and the District will be required.
- Excellence in Learning: Every student enrolled in Providence schools will have access to a high-quality, equitable, data-driven learning environment that will provide them with the confidence to succeed academically and continue on to postsecondary education opportunities. There will be a heightened effort to ensure multilingual learners have the resources they need to learn on or above grade level.
- World-Class Talent: All Providence students will attend a school staffed by highly effective teachers and leaders who reflect the community’s diversity, and are singularly focused on student growth and achievement.
These pillars will be supported by a foundational principle that underlies all our efforts:
- Efficient District Systems: The District’s Central Office will be revitalized through the implementation of policies that allow for efficient decisions about educator personnel, resource distribution, and budgeting practices – delivering resources and support to the school level.
This plan reflects and embodies the most common concerns raised through the many community forums and stakeholder meetings we have experienced over the last several months. Stakeholder collaboration and community engagement have been, and will continue to be, fundamental to the implementation of the TAP.
While we are excited about this plan, it is just a starting point; there have been attempts in the past to change Providence Public Schools and this time, things need to be different. We know that parts of this work will take longer than others, but we will keep you updated along the way. We know that our shared success depends on a fully collaborative effort that includes students at the forefront, parents, teachers, community groups, the faith-based community, and local elected officials throughout. We look forward to working with you as we embark upon this unprecedented journey to transform PPSD into a model urban school district where expectations are high for all, classrooms are equipped with state-of-the-art learning tools, teachers are supported and energized, and parents are fully engaged in their child’s learning.
Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education
State Turnaround Superintendent