This week in The Herald: Rhode Island’s high-stakes standardized testing


While October marks the beginning of a seemingly never-ending midterm period on our campus, thousands of Rhode Island high school seniors have spent the past two weeks taking retests of the reading and math portions of the state’s standardized NECAP exam. Currently ineligible to graduate with the Class of 2014, these students hope this month’s scores will fulfill the testing requirement of the “R.I. Diploma Program,” allowing them to graduate alongside their peers in the spring.

This week in The Herald, the City and State section will be taking an in-depth look into the climate of high-stakes standardized testing in the state’s public schools in a four-part series entitled “Testing Success?” Continue Reading

2012 in Review: Rhode Island edition

The Ocean State had its ups and downs in 2012. Here are some standout stories from across RI.

Deficit Distress: 

Batman and Robin

Providence has a lot to be thankful for in the new year. For a few months last year, it didn’t seem that the city would make it to 2013. In March Mayor Angel Taveras first announced the city faced the possibility of bankruptcy and suggested that a “category five” fiscal crisis was imminent. Taveras battled a $110 million deficit throughout the year, calling on the city’s non-profit institutions to increase their PILOT (payments in lieu of taxes) contributions. The University felt the pressure — as students, faculty and city residents called on former president Simmons to step up to the Mayor’s demands — to finalize negotiations with Taveras and in May, Simmons and Taveras jointly announced an agreement under which the University promised to contribute an additional $31.5 million to the city over the next eleven years. The city’s other universities, colleges, and hospitals have also stepped up to help close the deficit and facilitate some fiscal stability. Taveras is set to present the city’s budget for the next fiscal year on Jan. 29 during the annual “State of the City” address.

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State of the City: The RI Democratic Congressional Primary

In preparation for tomorrow’s long-awaited Democratic Congressional Primary, here’s a quick profile of the Democratic candidates in Rhode Island’s first district:

Anthony Gemma — 2012 marks Gemma’s second run for Congress. Last time around, he lost to David Cicilline, the current incumbent, by a landslide. This year, polls show that Gemma is doing much better, only trailing by five percent in the latest WPRI poll. Most recently, Gemma made headlines for announcing evidence proving voter fraud in the Cicilline camp. Gemma’s highly publicized announcement did not result in the jump he had obviously hoped it would inspire. Judging from his performance in last weeks debate, Gemma’s new strategy is just aimlessly walking around Providence convincing people that he can bring “JOBS” — hopefully referring to more than this sign.

David Cicilline — In January, very few believed that Cicilline was going to be able to pull off a win in this election. While Cicilline may be leading against his Democratic brethren, he’s certainly still straggling behind the Republican candidate Brendan Doherty in the polls. These past few months, Cicilline has been called everything from “corrupt” to a “liar” to “fake.” In last week’s debate, Gemma remarked “I’ve never heard someone talk so much, but says so little.” Oh.  Continue Reading

State of the City: Quahogs and porn

What the Quahog? While you were stumbling around this weekend and enjoying the wonderful music of Sepalcure, Rhode Island was dealing with bigger problems (than the line outside Fratty at the Ratty). According to WPRI, in an attempt to “replenish [the] local shellfish population,” the state is going to transport 150,000 pounds of “adult quahogs” to a “shellfish management” zone. Don’t know what a quahog is? Neither did we… but a quick google search resulted in the following probable definition: a quahog is a hard-shelled clam, native to the New England area. Here’s hoping that this will work! #riproblems

Providence: leading the nation in something? Providence was recently named one of the 25 most porn-friendly cities in Men’s Health. Coming in at number 21, it beat out notable cities in Ohio and everyone’s favorite, New Jersey. Apparently, the rankings were determined by analyzing the numbers of DVDs bought or watched online and number of “adult entertainment stores per city.”

Election roundup, cont. GoLocalProv crowned Rhode Island’s newest congressional candidate with a “Who’s Not [Hot]” rating to this week, calling Anthony Gemma’s entrance into the race for the 1st district’s seat “bizarre.” Gemma has been very reluctant to speak to the press about, well, anything and won’t acknowledge Cicilline. Snubbing just isn’t cool. Ever.

State of the City: People having words with many “friends”

Threatening the police is never a good idea… Though Senator Dominick Ruggerio faced drunk driving charges last week, the bigger news had to do with Senator Frank Ciccone. At the time of his friend’s arrest, Ciccone went up to police officers and threatened them. Ciccone’s following statement was released alongside the police report:

“You think you got pension problems now, wait ’til this [expletive] is all done. This guy voted against you the last time, it ain’t gonna get any better now.” Ciccone was referring to the state’s municipal pension problem, which has some police departments facing wholly unfunded pension funds.

When Ruggerio’s car pulled over, Ciccone seemed to emerge out of thin air, walking along the street towards the arrest. Who said politicians aren’t humble? And who said they aren’t wizards? Continue Reading

State of the City: Mean girls, dirty toilets, more ID opportunities

“I totally am 21… It says so right here on my… voter ID card!” Rhode Island’s Secretary of State Ralph Mollis is spearheading a program that is handing out free voter ID cards for residents who don’t have driver licenses or other forms of identification. Residents will be barred from voting if they do not have some type of identification to register. Hey Mollis, I’m sure there are plenty of “21-year-old” voters up here on College Hill who need some of those “voter ID cards,” and I’m sure they’d be willing to ensure the elections went your way… wink, wink… nudge, nudge… cough, cough.

Keeney Quad: the model of cleanliness. The City of Providence will be testing all 3,000 of the city’s fire hydrants in the month of April. According to, “Officials say the testing could agitate main water supply lines and result in discoloration of the water,” and are urging residents “to run the water until it flows clear.” Question: How will students be able to differentiate this specific discoloration from the normal discoloration of the slush that flows through the Keeney pipes?

Stop trying to make “fetch” happen! Video of high-school aged girls fighting each other in Newport, RI, has recently surfaced online. The video has led psychologists to determine that “teen girl violence” is increasing due to social media, which facilitates bullying and extreme emotional responses. This seems like a fairly decent conclusion until you consider that Tina Fey figured out a long time ago that teenage girls are just plain crazy, on and off the computer.