Rhode Island Board of Regents Approves Teacher Evaluation Plan

Is it too early to say: pinch me?

The Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education approved a proposed set of standards that would, for the first time, require that all educators –– new and tenured teachers, principals, assistant principals and support staff –– be evaluated annually and that the evaluations meet a rigorous set of state standards.
Currently, very few districts have substantive teacher evaluations and even fewer administer them routinely, said Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist. The proposed standards would link how well students learn to a teacher’s evaluation. They would also be sophisticated enough to recognize and reward exemplary teachers, offer support to struggling teachers and establish guidelines for the removal of ineffective teacher.

“Would link how well students learn to a teacher’s evaluation”? Be still, my heart! A public hearing is anticipated though not yet scheduled for the fall.
In the meantime, one troubling matter has already surfaced.

All evaluations must collect data and feedback that will improve the teacher’s performance and will recognize the most exemplary teachers in the district — possibly even rewarding them for their effectiveness.

Reward of a monetary nature? So excellent teachers would make more than their current compensation level? Already, teacher pay in Rhode Island is in the top 20% nationally while student achievement is in the bottom 20%. And would it be crass to mention that many if not most Rhode Island communities are struggling mightily – to the point of implementing pay-to-play sports and putting forward … er, “creative” ideas like eight unpaid work weeks per school year – to meet their current school payroll?
Sorry to be a potential skunk at the picnic. But baseline teacher pay around the state must be addressed if any reward for excellence under the Regents’ plan is to take a monetary form.

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