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Deborah A. Gist is the Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. Under her leadership, Rhode Island has won both a Race to the Top grant and a Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge grant, to help transform education across the state. She has spearheaded a number of education initiatives in Rhode Island, including the first annual evaluations for all teachers and principals, accountability for schools based on student growth and closing achievement gaps, a statewide funding formula for education based on district capacity and student need, data systems to provide teachers with information at the student level and to provide the public with detailed information on school performance and education finance, and innovation powered by technology to transform education at the classroom level. From the day of her arrival in Rhode Island four years ago, Gist has pledged that every decision she makes will be in the best interest of Rhode Island students. Before coming to Rhode Island, Gist served as the first State Superintendent of Education for the District of Columbia. She began her career in education 25 years ago as an elementary-school teacher in Fort Worth and, later, in Tampa, where she conceived, designed, and initiated a literacy program serving families in 108 elementary schools in Hillsborough County. Gist holds Bachelor of Science degree in early-childhood education from the University of Oklahoma, a Master of Arts in elementary education and curriculum from the University of South Florida, a master's degree in public administration from the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a doctoral degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania. She serves on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), and she is a founding member of Chiefs for Change and a 2012 winner of a Brian Bennett Education Warrior Award from Democrats for Education Reform. In 2008, Gist was a Broad Superintendents Academy Fellow.