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Regents approve nursing charter and new English standards for teachers

July 8, 2011

A charter high school where students can study nursing has won approval from the State Board of Education. The Rhode Island Nurses Institute Middle College will open in September at a location in Providence. The school plans to serve more than 100 students from communities around the state.

Applicants must have passed their 9th grade English and Math classes, and organizers say their goal is to help address a shortage of nurses in Rhode Island and around the country. School leaders tout the charter as a new career/tech option for students, who can earn credits toward a certified nursing assistant degree while still in High School.

The board also approved new minimum scores for teachers on a test of English fluency. The rule applies only to cases where school staff, parents or students raise concerns about a teacher’s command of the English language. A pair of independent classroom observations must also confirm the problem.

State officials say they have no way of knowing how many teachers across the state lack basic competency in English, but they are aware of at least a few cases. Under the new rules, the teacher can take a test to prove his or her fluency and must score at a level that shows ease in conversation and the ability to use academic language expected in a classroom.

If the teacher fails to meet the minimum score required, he or she can be removed from classroom duties. State officials say it is up to district officials to decide whether to let the teacher go or provide training to improve his or her English.

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