The Providence Student Union delivered the First Annual State of the Student Address today, right before State Commissioner Denorah Gist gave her annual State of Education Address.


Hello. Attached please find the materials from the Providence Student Union’s First Annual State of the Student Address, including a press release, a list of PSU’s policy recommendations, and a one-page document detailing PSU’s idea for assessment reform.


CONTACT: Hector Perea | | 401-545-1973



Providence, Rhode Island – April 30, 2013 – A crowd of students, parents and teachers gathered in front of the State House today before the Commissioner of Education’s yearly State of Education address for what members of the Providence Student Union (PSU) called their First Annual State of the Student Address.

“Commissioner Gist’s education addresses have been one-sided,” said PSU member and Hope High School junior Kelvis Hernandez. “They have not told the full story about Rhode Island education because they have never been given from the student’s perspective. Rhode Island students know what is actually happening in our schools, and we know what needs to change. Today we will offer an alternative vision for how our schools should be improved so that students can meet the high standards we all aspire to achieve.”

During the address, five students from five different high schools in Providence laid out a series of policy recommendations for the Commissioner to focus to improve education in Rhode Island. Leexammarie, a sophomore at Central High School, explained PSU’s suggestions on teaching and curriculum. “We’re told to sit and listen, to do our test prep so we can pass our NECAP and move on. But that’s not how we learn. That’s certainly not how I learn. We need an education that is as creative as we are. We need projects, hands-on learning, debates, and conversations. We need opportunities to do arts and technology and to work in groups. And we need small enough classes where teachers have the flexibility to teach us like individuals.”

Speaking about the need for more funding for school repairs and transportation, Danise Nichols of Mount Pleasant High School said, “If Providence schools get the funding they need to make our buildings safe, healthy, and comfortable for students, and to provide transportation to students, then we will be in a much better position to learn. We don’t think this is too much to ask. Do you?”

PSU members also described the need for a better assessment system than the current high-stakes testing regime. “We need an assessment system that challenges us to really learn – not to just fill in bubbles,” said Cauldierre McKay, a junior at Classical High School. “We should look for inspiration at successful systems like the New York Performance Standards Consortium. These schools require a student to complete four performance-based assessments that show oral and written skill, including an analytic literary essay, a social studies research paper with valid arguments and evidence, a science experiment that shows understanding of the scientific method and an applied math problem. These schools outperform New York schools using high-stakes testing – and we can see why.”

Members of the Providence Student Union said they hoped their event would help re-center the education conversation in Rhode Island back to its proper focus, the needs of students. After describing all their policy recommendations, Cauldierre McKay summed up PSU’s future plans, saying, “Now it’s up to all of us to work, together, to turn these ideas from words into real changes – to convince the Commissioner to give us an education instead of a test.”