Educators garner high marks in first year of new evaluations

A majority of educators were rated effective or highly effective, according to the Year One Report on public school teacher and administrator evaluations, released by the R.I. Department of Education Friday. More

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Educators garner high marks in first year of new evaluations

PBN FILE PHOTO/RYAN T. CONATY
R.I. EDUCATION COMMISSIONER Deborah Gist has reported on the first year of the state's new public school teacher and administrator evaluation program, and the results show a majority of the state's educators did quite well.
Posted 9/20/13

PROVIDENCE – A majority of educators were rated effective or highly effective, according to the Year One Report on public school teacher and administrator evaluations, but discrepancies when ratings are considered alongside other data create a “gap” that deserves more attention.

That is one of the key findings in “Rhode Island Educator Evaluations: Improving Teaching and Learning,” which the R.I. Department of Education released Friday morning.

The report, prepared by the office of Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist, finds 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,” according to the report. However, the report went on to say, if student achievement, student growth or school accountability are factored into the ratings, “there appears to be a discrepancy … [that is] cause for concern and requires closer examination.”

Gist plans to incorporate student growth and other data in coming evaluation years.

Last year, the 2012-13 school year, was the first year of full implementation of educator evaluations for teachers and principals in all schools.

In the report’s overview, emphasis is placed on obtaining “more useful and honest” evaluations as a long-term goal beyond this first assessment. Another critical finding in the report is that 27 percent of teachers found that an aspect of their teaching had improved as a result of working with an evaluator.

“We view this as a critical issue that must be addressed with urgency in order to realize the aspirations of better evaluations in Rhode Island,” the report stated.

The report also found that 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.

Seventy percent of principals and heads of schools found the evaluation process useful. Forty-five percent of teachers surveyed said they were more comfortable developing student learning objectives, while 41 percent said they expected that process to improve during the new school year.

“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,” 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.”

In a letter accompanying the report, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee said the four teacher and two building administrator evaluation systems reflect a “shared commitment to improving the quality of education we are providing Rhode Island’s youth,” while also noting, “We still have work to do.”

A representative for the National Education Association Rhode Island could not immediately be reached for comment.

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