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Executive Summary

Rhode Island Federation of Teachers & Health Professionals
AFT Innovation Fund Proposal
A RI Performance‐Based Teacher Evaluation and Support System
Executive Summary

The AFT Innovation Grant proposal put forth by the RIFTHP and its four core urban locals is designed to not only disprove the notion that unions protect incompetent teachers, but to position the RIFTHP and its urban affiliates to more fully exercise their responsibility to teachers, students and the profession by dramatically changing the way that RI educators are evaluated and supported. The overarching goal of this proposal is to ensure that every RI student is taught by a highly competent teacher and that every RI teacher receives a continuum of support, evaluation and feedback throughout his/her career based on rigorous standards of professional practice and multiple sources of evidence. A secondary goal is to change the perception of unions in Rhode Island and to position them to take their rightful place in determining who enters and remains in the teaching profession. The RIFTHP is poised to take the lead on shaping a model of teacher evaluation and support system that could be adopted statewide and, through the actions outlined in this proposal, be recognized as the champion for educator quality that they can and should be.

The RIFTHP and its four core urban local affiliates, the Central Falls Teachers’ Union, the Pawtucket Teachers’ Alliance, the Providence Teachers’ Union and the Woonsocket Teachers’ Guild propose to lead an effort in collaboration with their school districts to design and implement a common evaluation system which will dramatically change the way that RI educators are evaluated and supported. The proposed system will be aligned with the RI Department of Education’s recently adopted Professional Teaching Standards and proposed Educator Evaluation Standards and Code of Professional Responsibility, will incorporate evidence of student learning as one element and will include a Peer Assistance and Review component. The system will also reflect the understanding that an effective evaluation system ensures quality teaching and promotes professional learning (Danielson, 2000) and that a truly effective system includes multiple indicators, not just an observation score or a value added rank (Goe, 2009).

The RIFTHP proposal is innovative in its collaborative design, its alignment to state standards, current research and best practice, its cross‐district nature and in the opportunity for the union to ensure that the model of teacher evaluation adopted by the four locals, and potentially used as a Rhode Island model, is focused on the improvement of teaching and learning and does not rely solely on statewide assessments or similar narrowly defined “value add” models.

The RIFTHP and its four urban locals intend to convene a design group comprised of union and district representatives, and the state federation, with assistance from the state department of education, the governor’s office and higher education representatives to design an educator evaluation system based on the RI Professional Teaching Standards and the soon to be adopted RI Evaluation Standards and Code of Professional Responsibility. In addition to being standards based, the system to be designed will include evidence of student learning and the condition of the learning environment as elements.

The design will also include a Peer Assistance and Review component. The design will be created in concert with RI’s NGA funded initiative on performance based compensation and with technical assistance provided by national experts such as Laura Goe, PhD, Principal Investigator for Research and Dissemination, National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality. The design group will meet monthly from October – May to develop the system, based on the latest research on performance based teacher evaluation, enabling each local union and administration to negotiate its adoption prior to the start of the 20010‐2011 school year and to provide information and training to administrators, peer evaluators and teachers. A parallel course of awareness, professional development and labormanagement training will be designed and implemented during the planning year to enable each local and school district to better understand the RIPTS, the Evaluation Standards, the Professional Code of Responsibility, performance based evaluation systems and, finally, to implement the RI model.

Based on current research, Rhode Island’s policy direction and the RIFTHP’s interest in designing a teacher evaluation system that is focused on improving teaching and learning, the RIFTHP proposes to convene a design group of union leaders and administrators from its four urban locals, Central Falls, Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket. This group, together with representatives from the RIFTHP, the RI Department of Education, the governor’s office, higher education and national experts on teacher evaluation and support will be charged with researching and creating a teacher evaluation and support system that will:

  • Be focused on improving teaching and learning
  • Identify, build on and share individual and collective teacher strengths
  • Identify exemplary teachers who might serve as mentors/models
  • Identify areas in need of improvement and provide targeted professional development
  • Identify ineffective teachers and provide supports necessary to remediate their skills Be based on rigorous standards that reflect the complexity of teaching (RIPTS)
  • Include both formative and summative evaluation
  • Include evidence of both good teaching practice and student learning
  • Include assessment of the conditions of teaching and learning
  • Include on‐going training for evaluators, including peer evaluators
  • Include information for teachers about the standards and process of the new evaluation system
  • Include a support system for teachers that features on‐going professional development and a Peer Assistance and Review component

In addition to creating a state‐of‐the‐art, evidenced‐based, performance‐based teacher evaluation and support system and positioning the union to be the voice for educator quality that it can and should be, this proposal has the potential to, in the short term, affect the professional lives of approximately 4,000 RI teachers and the achievement of approximately 50,000 students. In the long term, it has the potential to serve as a rigorous, reliable model of teacher evaluation and support, not just for the four districts involved in this initiative, but for the entire state and country.