RITES+C is a Research-Practitioner Partnership where K-12 educators, higher education researchers, state government, and industry, collaborate to improve science and computer science education in Rhode Island and the nation.
The RITES+C RPP was founded in 2008 with the mission of improving science education in the state of Rhode Island (RI). Its original core members were the RI Department of Education (RIDE), the three state higher education institutions: The University of RI (URI), RI College (RIC), and the Community College of RI (CCRI), and six core School Districts including Providence, the largest and most racially and economically diverse school district in the state. Originally simply “RITES”, it began as a five-year NSF-funded Math and Science Partnership engaging 75% of middle and high schools in 27 of Rhode Island‘s 36 public school districts.
The RITES RPP has been a great success in terms of gains in STEM literacy throughout the state, as documented in the RITES YEAR 5 Annual Report. RITES has engaged approximately 40,000 students throughout RI, with the distribution of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds closely reflecting the state distribution. State assessment data indicates that the program’s impact on students’ inquiry skills is statistically significant for all groups, including high-need populations. The original aim of the project was to reach a “critical mass” of 75% of the science teachers in all participating schools and districts. That goal was met within the first five years of the partnership and exceeded in the largest and most urban district in the state (Providence), where the level of participation reached 89%.
In 2014 RITES was awarded a STEM-C supplement to its MSP so that it could initiate the introduction of computer science into RI’s K-12 schools, and renamed itself RITES+C. The project developed an AP Computer Science Principles (APCSP) course that meets the learning objectives in the College Board’s APCSP Framework and that has been approved by College Board as a template syllabus. It has provided free course materials and free teacher professional development and support for the course being offered in 22 RI high schools in the 2016-17 school year.
In 2015 RITES+C was awarded an NSF STEM+C large-scale implementation grant to extend computational thinking skills into Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) course material. This project has resulted in 20 RI schools implementing a 9th/10th grade computational thinking skills course, and six (6) schools piloting Earth, Physical, and Life science modules with embedded computation skills in the 2016-17 school year. Implementation of the computational-based science modules is planned for at least 20 schools in the 2017-18 school year.
In 2016 RITES+C was awarded a supplement to an NSF Division of Undergraduate Education Noyce Grant project to develop CS courses for pre-service teachers at URI.
In March 2016, RI Governor Gina Raimondo launched Computer Science for Rhode Island (CS4RI) with the goal of having computer science taught in every public school in the state by December 2017. This effort takes a coalition approach by combining national leadership with home-grown talent to reduce barriers to providing quality computer science education and professional development, and to bring CS learning opportunities to all RI schools. In 2016, the first year of CS4RI, 94% of RI municipal school districts offered CS opportunities and 75% of high schools offered at least one computer science class. This year CS4RI has trained over 350 teachers in computer science teaching, and had over 1600 students attend the CS4RI Summit in December of 2016.
Over its 10+ years of existence, RITES+C has created a robust research/practitioner partnership between K-12 and higher education institutions whose faculties work together to improve science and computer science education for RI and the nation. Because the success of the RPP depends vitally on the strength of this partnership, we chronicled its growth using the PRISM rubric, which was developed to assess the growth of math-science partnerships. Recently our external evaluators from the Center For Human Services conducted an assessment of RITES+C’s development as an RPP using the Diagnostic Rubric: Are We a Partnership Yet?, which classifies aspects of an RPP’s development as Early Phase, Middle Phase, or Maturing. The assessment shows that RITES+C is "Maturing" in all categories for our previous projects in science education. Our progress towards our current aim of CS for All is rated (with language from the rubric):