2018 PPI Score
School Choice Score: 60%
Rhode Island’s tax-credit scholarship program, enacted in 2006 and launched in 2007, offers a 75 percent tax credit to businesses that donate to Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs) or 90 percent if donated for two consecutive years and the second year’s donation is worth at least 80 percent of the first year’s donation. SGOs are non-profits that offer private school scholarships of varying amounts to students from low-income households.
Charter Schools Score: 62%
Rhode Island earns a “D” rating this year. Rhode Island provides equitable operating funds for charters (especially compared to other states that score a “D”), but a hard charter school cap of 35 schools and no recourse for charter schools to appeal arbitrary or unfair decisions make Rhode Island’s policies inhospitable to charters.
- Law passed: 1995
- Number of charter schools: 31
- Estimated charter school enrollment: 8,000 (up 11 percent from 2015-16)
- Rhode Island has a cap of 35 charter schools
- Virtual charter schools are permitted but they must provide some face to face contact
- Charters can contract with EMOs and CMOs for management services
- Rhode Island earns 3 out of 15 for “authorizing.” Rhode Island only allows one entity, the State Board of Education, to authorize charter schools (without appeal for unfavorable application or closure decisions). While the State Board is a preferable authorizer to local school districts, Rhode Island could greatly benefit from multiple authorizers, which allow for more innovation and policy environments that offer less regulation.
- Rhode Island scores 2 of 15 for “growth.” Rhode Island has a restrictive cap of 35 charter schools statewide, which limits opportunity. However, the state does provide efficient routes for successful schools to expand.
- Rhode Island earns 8 of 20 points for “operations.” The commissioner of education is empowered to create rules and regulations for charter schools, and charter schools can apply for waivers if they would like to be exempted from certain regulations. Providing charters with blanket waivers would be far preferable to this process, which is time consuming, burdensome, and prevents some charters for requesting exemptions. The law also requires charter school teachers to be traditionally certified, which prevents operators from assembling the staff that they desire.
- Rhode Island earns 7 of 15 points for “funding equity.” The weighted student formula that the state recently adopted is supposed to apply to district and charter schools in the same way. At the end of a 7-year “rollout,” charters and district schools are supposed to be funded at the same rate, with local funding directed from districts to charters (in essence, following the students). Schools may apply to the state for reimbursement of up to 30 percent of facilities costs.
Teacher Quality Score: 85%
Delivering Well Prepared Teachers B+
Expanding the Pool of Teachers B
Identifying Effective Teachers B
Retaining Effective Teachers D
Exiting Ineffective Teachers D
Overall State Grade B