The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) has posted an application for districts, non-profits, higher education partners, and other local and national providers to join the Educator Course Network (ECN), a new statewide professional learning ecosystem that will be available to all Rhode Island districts, schools, and educators.
ECN participants could be traditional providers, like colleges or education non-profits, or could include innovative approaches, like small groups of educators that wish to provide learning services and meet the criteria for entry. Schools or districts could also apply to become ECN providers, allowing cross-district collaboration so that one community could specialize in literacy instruction, for example, while another specializes in social and emotional supports for students.
The ECN was a key component of Rhode Island’s updated certification regulations, which were approved in December 2018 and reinstated an ongoing professional learning requirement for all educators.
“Over the past three years, we’ve focused heavily on student pathways. In order to move student pathways forward, though, we also need strong, responsive teacher pathways,” said Ken Wagner, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. “The Educator Course Network is a critical piece of our teacher pathway strategy and is an approach that will help Rhode Island educators to identify opportunities that are aligned and responsive to their specific needs in the classroom.”
The Educator Course Network approach to educator learning is similar to the Advanced Course Network (ACN) approach to student learning. The ACN launched in 2016 and allows middle and high school students to enroll in dual enrollment, Advanced Placement, career preparation, and work-based learning courses offered by other schools and districts, college, community-based organizations, and other programs approved by the Department of Labor and Training.
The ECN will follow the same kind of mixed delivery model, bringing a diverse array of providers into a single, streamlined network that makes it easier for districts and schools to find and access learning opportunities for their educators that are aligned to specific needs and interests. Opportunities will be organized through an online platform by content and type of professional learning, and users can click on any provider for additional details on that organization.
“At the same time that we are offering a record number of advanced coursework and career education opportunities for our students, it’s exciting to see the Educator Course Network come to fruition for our educators,” said Barbara S. Cottam, Chair of the Rhode Island Board of Education. “Professional learning should be meaningful, rigorous, sustained, and responsive to the needs of our educators, students, and school communities. The ECN will open up new opportunities that not only meet this criteria, but also foster a statewide learning community that allows for innovation and collaboration.”
Provider applications are due by Feb. 22. Applications will then be reviewed by RIDE staff and a group of Rhode Island educators to ensure that the ECN features high-quality professional learning opportunities. RIDE’s hope is that the ECN will then go live in the spring, allowing educators to access these opportunities for the start of the 2019-2020 school year.
Interested providers can find the ECN application on the RIDE website, and applications must be submitted to PL@ride.ri.gov by Feb. 22.