2011-10-13 / News

RIDE rep discusses new evaluation system

A state Department of Education representative was on hand during the School Committee’s Oct. 6 business meeting to outline the Rhode Island model educator evaluation system. Jamestown is one of the first school districts in the state to fully implement the system this year.

Lisa Foehr from RIDE spoke in front of the panel about the benefits of the model and also of the advantages Jamestown has as one of the first departments in Rhode Island to wholly execute the method.

Principals for the system focus on six standards, which, according to the education department’s website, “were crafted to support the work of school districts to assure educator quality through a comprehensive district educator evaluation system.”

Those six standards, which were adopted in December 2009, focus on ways to improve district educators, which will in turn show positive results for the district’s children.

The first standard underlines a “common vision of educator quality.” The goal of the first standard is for educators (administrators, teachers and support professionals) to develop a common ground of expectations and to sustain acceptable levels of performance for individual educators.

The second standard emphasizes “the professional growth and continuous improvement of individual educators’ professional practice.” The goal here is for educators to listen to feedback from colleagues, supervisors, students, parents and the community in order to improve as educators. It also stresses the need for professional development.

The third standard is similar to the second, but stresses the “growth and continuous improvement” as a group – whether it be within a department, a district or a school – instead of as an individual.

The fourth standard is “quality assurance.” This standard emphasizes that educators who are new to the profession, or who have changed assignments, are evaluated more closely than teachers who demonstrate that “they meet expectations for educator quality” each year, although all educators will be evaluated at least once annually.

The fifth standard is that the “district evaluation systems assure fair, accurate, and consistent assessment of educator performance.” According to this principal, the evaluation system should be transparent to all educators: “The purpose, criteria, instruments, procedures, and expectations for acceptable levels of performance are clearly communicated to educators through handbooks.”

The sixth standard is a self-policing criterion, where a District Evaluation Committee (made up of teachers, support professionals, administrators, and union representatives) will be formed to review “the effectiveness of the evaluation system, the validity and utility of the data produced by the system, the fairness, accuracy, and consistency of decisions made, and the currency of the system. The committee uses the information from the analysis to make recommendations for revisions to the system.”

Since Jamestown is one of the guinea pigs in this new system, the district’s feedback will be important in working to perfect the policy.

Also at the School Committee’s business meeting, Superintendent Marcia Lukon said that she is continuing to collect data on the academic programs at high schools under review. According to the School Committee Action Notes, Lukon does not have sufficient data to make a “definitive recommendation prior to the Nov. 1 deadline for notifying North Kingstown of any change in Jamestown’s plan to send members of the current eighth grade to NK high school.”

In other news, the committee approved a proposed overnight field trip to M.I.T. and the Boston Museum of Science for the seventh grade. Lawn Avenue School Principal Kathy Almanzor also informed the committee of a plan for a trip to Washington, D.C., on June 8. The trip would give students the chance to participate in Project Close Up, a “middle school program designed to enrich students’ knowledge of the basic concepts and structures of American constitutional government and the foundations of the U.S. political system.”

Also, the committee approved the appointment of Katherine Humphreys as a part-time English Language Learner tutor, and unanimously approved the revised Internet Acceptable Use Policy.

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