2011-11-17 / News

New teacher evaluations to take effect in 2012

Rhode Island educators who demonstrate “successful practice” through positive ratings on their annual evaluations will be eligible for renewal of their certification, according to new regulations that the board of regents for Elementary and Secondary Education approved today.

Educators who receive evaluations of “ineffective” for five years in a row, however, will lose their certification. Educators need certifi cation in order to work in Rhode Island public schools. The regulations will take effect in January.

Under the educator-evaluation system that all districts are implementing this year, all educators will receive annual evaluations and will receive one of four ratings: highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective. An evaluation of developing or better is considered evidence of successful practice.

The evaluations are based on observations of practice, fulfillment of professional responsibilities, and evidence of student growth and achievement.

The new certification procedure “has two elements: to evaluate teachers, and to make them better by giving them tools, helping them,” said Chairman George D. Caruolo. “It is a step to address a public-school system that has ossifi ed over decades and is not functioning adequately by many measures. For any teacher in Rhode Island who’s trying hard and is committed to their work – there’s nothing for them to fear in this.”

“By linking the certification of our educators to student achievement and to other evidence of effective performance, the regents have taken a major step in our efforts to ensure that we have excellent teachers in every classroom and excellent leaders in every school,” said state Department of Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist. “In addition, this new, streamlined certification system removes a bureaucratic burden that took up far too much of our educators’ time. The new system will allow our educators to focus on improving teaching and learning.”

Previously, teachers had to develop and complete an individual learning plan every five years in order to renew their certification. These plans are no longer required, nor are educators required to complete specific courses or a set number of units of professional development in order to renew their certification. Professional development will, however, continue to be an essential part of the system for improving instruction.

Over the past two years, staff members at the R.I. Department of Education conducted a comprehensive review of the current certifi cation regulations and convened many groups of stakeholders for input and feedback. The Board of Regents received comment from the public at three public hearings before voting on the new regulations.

The board approved the regulations by a vote of 7-2, with Carolina Bernal and Colleen A. Callahan opposed.

RIDE will post the final versions of the regulations as soon as possible, but a draft version is available on the RIDE website.

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