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Governor, Commissioner release Year One report on evaluations

Report finds increasing confidence in evaluation practice

A majority of school leaders and nearly half of the Rhode Island teachers expressed support for the educator-evaluation systems that all Rhode Island public schools put into practice during the past school year. 

The Year One Report on Rhode Island Educator Evaluations that Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist released today (September 20, 2013) notes that 84 percent of school superintendents agree that teachers’ professional practices have improved as a result of the evaluations. 

The report also shows that 70 percent of building administrators (principals and heads of school) agree that the evaluation process has been useful in helping them set academic goals to increase student achievement.

The information comes from statewide mid-year and end-of-year surveys the R.I. Department of Education (RIDE) conducted of teachers and school leaders participating in the evaluation process.

Nearly half of the teachers surveyed (45 percent), according to the report, said they were more comfortable developing their Student Learning Objectives, the measure of student growth and achievement that plays a large role in the evaluation of all educators. Many teachers (41 percent) believe the process of creating and using Student Learning Objectives will improve during the current school year.

“Congratulations are in order for all Rhode Island educators, who successfully implemented the new, more rigorous teacher and building administrator evaluation systems,” said Governor Lincoln Chafee.  “While we still have work to do, it is appropriate to pause and celebrate our achievements.  The shared commitment to improving the quality of education we are providing Rhode Island’s youth is instrumental to the future of our state.” 

“As we work together to make sure we have great teachers in every classroom and great leaders in every school, the evaluation process will provide teachers and principals with valuable feedback to improve teaching and learning,” said Eva-Marie Mancuso, Chair of the Board of Education. “I am pleased with the progress we have made to date, and I am glad that the team at R.I. Department of Education has continued to improve the evaluation process based on input from teachers and school leaders across the state.”

“When all educators receive regular observations and constructive feedback, they can grow professionally every year throughout their careers and, in turn, help more students succeed,” Commissioner Gist wrote in an introduction to the report. “In the coming year, we will continue to listen carefully to educators in the field to learn what’s working – and what we can do better. I value the diverse viewpoints in the feedback we have collected along the way. All of us understand that our schools – and our children – represent the future of Rhode Island.”

Following the approval of Education Evaluation System Standards in 2009, Rhode Island schools began the process of putting evaluations in place for all teachers in the 2010.

The previous school year (2012-13) was the first year of full implementation of educator evaluations for all teachers and principals in all schools. 

Based on feedback from teachers and school leaders during the two years of implementation, RIDE made a number of changes to improve the evaluation process, such as reducing the number of required classroom observations and professional-growth goals and refining the score process for accomplishment of Student Learning Objectives. 

Teacher evaluations are based on professional practices (classroom observations), professional responsibilities, and student growth and achievement, as determined by fulfillment of Student Learning Objectives that teachers and the evaluation teams establish. At this time, evidence of student growth on statewide assessments is part of the evaluation system for information and guidance only and does not play a role in the calculation of the teacher’s final evaluation rating. 

(There are four approved evaluation models in the state; 46 of districts charter public schools, and state-operated schools use the Rhode Island Model, which RIDE developed. Six districts use the Innovation Model, which the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals developed, and two other models are used by one district or school only.)

Among other findings, the report notes that “teachers are concerned about the specificity and usefulness of the feedback that they receive from evaluators.” The report also notes that 95 percent of teachers were rated either effective or highly effective, “directly contradicting any initial implementation concerns that it would be impossible to earn high ratings in the new systems.

The report concludes that: “RIDE will continue to support this work and make refinements over time, and one next step will be trying to more precisely capture educators’ influence on student learning.  RIDE has been listening to teachers’ concerns about measuring student learning, and we are committed to working together to make making all systems as fair and accurate as possible – and we have faith that collectively, we can meet that goal.

The full report is available on the RIDE website.