A union-developed teacher development and evaluation system will be used in Central Falls, Cranston, Pawtucket, Providence, West Warwick and Woonsocket school districts in Rhode Island.
WASHINGTON—An innovative teacher development and evaluation model funded by the AFT’s Innovation Fund and developed by the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals has been approved by the Rhode Island Department of Education for implementation in six Rhode Island school districts this fall.
The creation of this teacher-led model is particularly important to ensure that schools focus on student success, and that this is done in a way that promotes continuous improvement of teacher practice and student achievement. This model will help avoid the kind of events that occurred last year at Central Falls High School, when teachers were dismissed without valid evaluations to judge their effectiveness, much less a robust plan for teacher development and improvement.
“To ensure we help all children, schools need a valid evaluation system that assesses teachers’ effectiveness and gives ongoing support and assistance to improve teaching and learning. This is what the Rhode Island plan will do,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Collaboration between teachers unions and school districts is the way to boost teacher quality and improve student learning.”
With funding from the AFT’s Innovation Fund and an Investing in Innovation (i3) grant from the U.S. Department of Education, teachers union leaders and administrators from the Rhode Island school districts spent the last two years working together to develop a teacher development and evaluation system designed to help improve teacher practice. The model is aligned with existing state evaluation and professional teaching standards, and helps assess the effect on student achievement of various teacher and administrator practices.
Getting to this point was not easy, and there is still much to do, such as training the administrators and teacher leaders who will implement the new system in the fall. But Weingarten said RIFTHP’s and the state education department’s commitment to putting politics aside and putting children first is a positive sign for the success of this evaluation model.
“Even in this terrible fiscal situation, in Rhode Island, New York, Pittsburgh, Hillsborough and Volusia counties in Florida, and other areas of the country, AFT members are taking a leading role in forging union-district partnerships that lead to innovative education reforms,” Weingarten said. “And through the Innovation Fund, the AFT will continue to invest in solutions that produce measurable gains in teacher quality and solutions that address the challenges facing our public schools.”