Teachers Skeptical Over Race to the Top
As we’ve learned, the state American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union has decided to support Race to the Top (RTTT). It isn’t too much of a leap to see the link between the recent Central Falls agreement and the AFT sign on, but there also can be little doubt that rank-and-file teachers remain skeptical about RTTT, particularly the teacher evaluation component. Education Commissioner Deborah Gist was in Warwick last week to speak about RTTT and it was clear that the prospects of a new evaluation system seems to be causing the most heartburn in the teacher ranks.
What teachers wanted to know Thursday evening was how they would be evaluated and whether such measures would be fair.
Toll Gate English teacher Darlene Netcoh asked if she would be held accountable for the performance of teachers who shaped students since they entered the system in kindergarten?
“What are these hardworking teachers not doing,” queried Toll Gate history teacher Kate Rauch.
Netcoh’s concerns are valid, which is why any student performance component of a teacher evaluation system has to account for the “raw material” the teacher is starting with. In other words, each student will have a baseline performance score (or something like that), which will be used for comparison at the end of the year to determine progress.
Teachers and union leaders have also complained that there haven’t been enough details given out regarding a new teacher evaluation system. As Gist explained, it hasn’t been developed because RIDE wants to include teachers in the development process. As she said, if she had developed an evaluation system without teacher input, she would be accused of forcing a system on them. More fundamental is that the reason she hasn’t started that process is because she hopes to use RTTT funds to develop that system. However, as she has said, whether or not RI gets RTTT funds, a new statewide teacher evaluation standard will be developed by 2011.