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Unions Protesting New Teacher Evaluation System

Friday, December 21, 2012


Thousands of Rhode Island teachers have signed an online petition calling for the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) to delay the implementation of the state’s new teacher evaluation system.

According to a letter sent to Education Commissioner Deborah Gist from the National Education Association Rhode Island (NEARI) executive committee, teachers are concerned about the fairness, accuracy, and consistency of the model, which requires teachers to receive evaluations based on observations of practice, fulfillment of professional responsibilities, and evidence of student growth and achievement.

“Teachers are overwhelmed with a system that requires developing new curriculum while they are held responsible for an entirely different system,” said NEARI President Larry Purtill. “Careers could be made or destroyed based on a label that holds very little meaning.”

Purtill continued: “Teachers are required to write ‘SLOs’ (Student Learning Objectives) as part of their evaluation. Yet the expectations for these SLOs varies from district to district, school to school, and even among administrators. There is no uniformity or clear understanding. A teacher could be highly effective according to one district and not in another.”

In addition to the petition, the state’s teachers unions have launched a website to voice their frustration.

But Gist says the state does not intend to delay teacher evaluations moving forward. In a letter sent to superintendents across the state, Gist called a high-quality evaluation system “essential” to the work educators are doing.

“Last year, we agreed to delay full implementation of evaluations and opted instead for a year of ‘gradual implementation’ during the 2011-12 school year,” she wrote. “We do not intend to delay full implementation again. We do, however, intend to continue careful monitoring of the evaluation process throughout this year of full implementation, and we will continue to listen to teachers and school leaders as we work together to determine our best next steps. I have reached out to both Frank Flynn (RIFTHP) and Larry Purtill (NEA-RI) to schedule further meetings to discuss the concerns their members have expressed regarding evaluations. I am confident that we can work together to ensure that our educator evaluations are fair, accurate, and focused on improving teaching and learning in Rhode Island.”


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I don't know when this "news team" interviewed Ms. Gist, but several communities including Providence have already pushed back the SLO portion of the evaluation process. SLO's will not count this year according to Dr. Susan Lusi. A little reporting never hurt a news team.

Comment #1 by tom brady on 2012 12 21

If the teacher's union is against it, then it must be a good thing. That much I've learned from being here in RI.

Comment #2 by Odd Job on 2012 12 21

Strange, all of the teachers I talk to are very excited about the new program. It is a big step but they acknowledge it is going to be good for the quality of teaching for our kids.

Comment #3 by Gary Arnold on 2012 12 21

Hmmmm, so the unions prove they are doing something good for kids and the same critics give the same criticisms they always do.....one has to start wondering if Bob Walsh walked down the street handing out hundred dollar bills if these critics would find a reason to call him names and say it should have been more.

Comment #4 by Malachi Constant on 2012 12 21

why is there not 1 standard for the evaluation? there is no point in requiring it if the metrics used are not the same.

i have spoken with teachers both in favor and against the process.

one teacher indicated that the asst principal actually comes into the class and types everything the teacher says during the class, then grades that summary according to a rubric. so now we have admin acting as court stenographers instead of administrating.

i suggest teachers go back to the methods that were used when the US had high test scores as opposed to the latest and greatest techniques.

Comment #5 by Mateo C on 2012 12 21

Public unions should be outlawed.

Comment #6 by pearl fanch on 2012 12 21

Office of Educator Quality and Certification

Supporting great educators

An effective evaluation system is key to developing, supporting and improving the effectiveness of our educators as well as recognizing the outstanding performance of our most effective teachers and leaders.

Teachers have a profound influence

An effective teacher can change the course of a student’s life, and effective teachers need effective leaders with the ability to guide and motivate school communities. Research has shown that one of the most important school-based factor influencing a student’s achievement is the quality of his or her teacher.

Focus on regular feedback

Unfortunately, evaluation models in many of our schools don’t provide the kind of feedback and support educators need in order to develop and improve. Currently, evaluations are often infrequent or inconsistent, with little focus on the educator’s professional development and little, if any consideration of how much students are learning. The Rhode Island Educator Evaluation System Standards, on the other hand, calls for annual evaluations.

Multiple measures of effectiveness

To determine overall educator effectiveness, the Rhode Island Model considers three central components: Professional Practice, Professional Responsibilities, and Student Learning.

Comment #7 by Gary Arnold on 2012 12 22

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