The State Follows Tiverton on Evaluations

Well, the title of this post is a bit of an overstatement (downright presumptuous, actually), but I just received the following press release from the Rhode Island Department of Education:

All Rhode Island teachers will be evaluated at least once a year, following the historic vote tonight by the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education.
At its meeting tonight (December 3rd, 2009) at Lincoln Senior High School, the Board approved the first-ever standards for evaluation systems for teachers and other educators. From now on, all evaluation systems will provide feedback on performance, create incentives for highly effective educators, and improve the performance of or remove ineffective educators.
Under the new Rhode Island Educator Evaluation System Standards, “an educator’s overall effectiveness is to be determined by evidence of impact on student growth and academic achievement.” The evaluations must include observations of practice, and evaluators should seek feedback from supervisors, colleagues, students, and families.
The Regents also approved the first Educator Code of Professional Responsibility, which will “guide professional conduct” of educators in “all situations with professional and ethical implications.” The code “embraces the fundamental belief that the student is the foremost reason for the existence of the [teaching] profession.” The code will “serve as a basis for decisions” regarding certification and employment.
“The new evaluation system will help Rhode Island to improve educator quality by attracting, mentoring, and retaining top teachers and education leaders,” said Robert G. Flanders, Jr., Esq., Chairman of the Board of Regents. “The evaluation process will be fair to educators because it will be tied to existing standards and expectations and because it will be consistent across all districts. These votes will help to ensure that we have excellent educators in every school and classroom.”
“By approving these new standards for evaluation systems and the Code of Professional Responsibility, the Regents have acted in the best interest of our students,” said Deborah A. Gist, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. “I have said many times that the single most important factor in the education of our students is the effectiveness of their teachers. These new standards, which emphasize student achievement and professional growth for all educators, are a big step in our work to transform Rhode Island education.”
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (RIDE) will develop evaluation-system templates, which districts may adopt or modify, subject to the Commissioner’s approval. RIDE will post the standards and the code on its Web site, www.ride.ri.gov.

As some of my Tiverton Citizens for Change colleagues will hasten to point out, this has more than a flavor of an unfunded mandate. Tiverton Schools’ Superintendent Bill Rearick put the figure for an initial increase in evaluations at $250,000. Unless the state is going to send its own evaluators, a command for such a process from the top — from the state — becomes something for which towns must pay, which means something added to the bill to taxpayers.
Enacted at the town level, evaluations are a self-motivated mechanism for improving the district’s educational product, which means towns will more readily rework their systems to make room for them.

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George Elbow
George Elbow
11 years ago

“…the student is the foremost reason for the existence of the [teaching] profession.”
Quick, someone inform Bob Walsh and his flock of this profound discovery.
Poor Bob has been toiling away for years under the false belief that “fleecing the taxpayers and creating dues-paying zombies were the foremost reasons for the existence of the teaching profession.”
Turns out the world isn’t flat after all, Bob.
PS – please bring a medic along when the news is broken to Bob, as his heart may give out from the shock of it all. Perhaps EMT is available??

mikeinri
11 years ago

On one hand, I think all teachers should be evaluated regularly, based on professional standards. On the other hand, the evaluation process and those standards should be left up to the individual districts, where the bills are paid. Another bureaucratic power grab that won’t improve public education.

gina
gina
11 years ago

I don’t understand this:
…Tiverton Schools’ Superintendent Bill Rearick put the figure for an initial increase in evaluations at $250,000. Unless the state is going to send its own evaluators, a command for such a process from the top — from the state — becomes something for which towns must pay, which means something added to the bill to taxpayers…
What is the 250k “initial increase” and why would anyone have to send in an evaluator? In all my years in the private sector, I have never had my job performance evaluated by someone with job title Evaluator. It is usually based on various metrics as well as feedback for a group of supervisors, clients, peers, and staff and is conducted by a supervisor and/or Human Resources.
I would hope that RIDE will provide templates that allow the Districts to determine who within the District will do the evaluations. Department heads and managers do these things in the private sector.
The other news in RI Education tonight is that the Westerly School Committee rejected the teacher’s contract. The District has not had a contract since July. This could get interesting.

George Elbow
George Elbow
11 years ago

By the way, does this once and for conclude what we already knew, which is that our Union-hack teachers have NOT been subject to review heretofor?
Is that why it is an incremental cost, because Reviewing personel for performance, etc. is a NEW activity??
Yes, Bob Walsh, we know your flock’s standard answer …”we police ourselves”.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Gina,
Supt. Rearick claimed the increase would be necessary to free up employees to do the evaluating. I personally think evaluations are something for which taxpayers should be considered as already paying, and it should be on the relevant personnel to do the work, and on their supervisors to find ways to open up their schedules for that purpose; in a community-initiated process, that case could be made and might actually win out. State mandates enter the scene with different baggage.
My point (not fully explored, I’ll admit) was that the only way such a state mandate makes sense is if the Department of Education is going to develop statewide standards and send its experts (the evaluators) into the districts to ensure conformance.

Margaret Paynich
Margaret Paynich
11 years ago

My first question was: What is the break down of the $250,00 Bill Rearick quotes? And as another reader mentioned – are you trying to tell me you don’t already have personnel doing evaluations? Or are you confirming that the current evaluations are virtually useful and therefore you have almost no staff responsible for performing them? I think this falls under the job description of the “department head.”
Also, you may think this is an unfunded mandate, you may think it’s unnecessary policy – but whatever we’re all doing now is clearly NOT working, so please lets try something new. I don’t want to hear one person say “well, this is the way we’ve always done it, so this is what we’re doing.”

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