Deborah Gist
Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education

Deborah A. Gist began her service as the R.I. Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education on July 1, 2009.

Commissioner Gist has focused her efforts on ensuring that Rhode Island has excellent teachers in every classroom and excellent leaders in every school. She has raised the bar for entry into teacher-preparation programs, ended seniority-based hiring and placement, and implemented annual evaluations based in part of student growth.

Under Commissioner Gist’s leadership, the R.I. Department of Education has won both a $75-million Race to the Top grant and a $50-million Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant. In 2011, for the first time ever, Rhode Island students scored at or above the national average on “The Nation’s Report Card” in mathematics and reading. From the outset, Commissioner Gist pledged that every decision she makes will be based on what is in the best interest of Rhode Island students.