Rhode Island

Academic Achievement

Despite significant improvement since our last report, student performance in Rhode Island is middling. The state hovers around the national average in the percentage of 4th and 8th graders at or above the proficient level on the NAEP reading and math exams.

Academic Achievement for Low-Income and Minority Students

Rhode Island earns a low grade on academic achievement for low-income and minority students. Fifteen percent of Hispanic 8th graders score at or above the proficient level on the NAEP math exam, 6 percentage points below the national average.

Return on Investment

Student achievement in Rhode Island is below average relative to state spending after controlling for cost of living. 

Truth in Advertising: Student Proficiency

Rhode Island posts mediocre marks on the credibility of its student proficiency scores. The grade is based on the difference between the percentage of students identified as proficient in reading and math on the 2011 state exams and the percentage identified as proficient on the 2011 NAEP reading and math tests.

Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness

Rhode Island earns a below average grade preparing its students for college and careers. Only 15 students out of 100 pass an AP exam.

21st Century Teacher Force

Rhode Island does a good job of creating a strong teacher workforce. The Ocean State is especially good at identifying effective teachers. 

Parental Options

Rhode Island does a mediocre job providing parents with strong school choice options. The state has a poor charter school law that caps charter school growth and has a small choice scholarship program.

Data Quality

Rhode Island earns a very good grade collecting and reporting high-quality education data. The state links student performance data to teacher data and funds a longitudinal data system.   


Rhode Island receives an average grade employing technology to provide quality instruction and personalized learning. While students have some access to high-quality digital content, weak state policies around funding and accountability discourage a vibrant digital learning environment. 

International Competitiveness

Rhode Island earns a low grade preparing its students to compete in a global economy, with only 27% of students proficient in reading and math compared with an international standard.

Fiscal Responsibility

Rhode Island receives average marks on fiscal responsibility. Only 58% of the state’s pension is funded, but its most recent contribution was 100%.