Frequency of Evaluations: Rhode Island

2015 Identifying Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers.

Nearly meets
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2015). Frequency of Evaluations: Rhode Island results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/RI-Frequency-of-Evaluations-71

Analysis of Rhode Island's policies

Rhode Island no longer requires annual evaluation for all teachers. 

Tenured teachers with highly effective ratings must be evaluated no more than once every three years. Tenured teachers with effective ratings must be evaluated no more than once every two years. More frequent evaluations may occur if part of a negotiated collective bargaining agreement, or if concerns arise about teacher performance.

All other teachers are evaluated annually. 

Rhode Island's Teacher Evaluation and Support System requires at least three observations, with written feedback required after each one. Postobservation conferences are optional. The model also requires three evaluation conferences between the teacher and evaluator to discuss progress; these must take place at the beginning, middle and end of the year. 

Districts developing their own systems of evaluation clearly must include classroom observations, but the frequency of these observations is a decision left up to the districts. 


Citation

Recommendations for Rhode Island

Require annual formal evaluations for all teachers.
All teachers in Rhode Island should be evaluated annually, even those who receive high ratings on previous evaluations. Rather than treated as mere formalities, these teacher evaluations should serve as important tools for rewarding good teachers, helping average teachers improve and holding weak teachers accountable for poor performance. While the state may find it practical to reduce the number of observations for its highest-performing teachers, eliminating the evaluation completely denies these teachers feedback while also suggesting that an annual evaluation is punitive in nature.

Base evaluations on multiple observations.
To guarantee that annual evaluations are based on an adequate collection of information, Rhode Island should require multiple observations for all teachers, even those who receive effective or higher ratings. 

Ensure that new teachers are observed and receive feedback early in the school year. 
It is critical that schools and districts closely monitor the performance of new teachers. Rhode Island should therefore strengthen its policy and require that all districts—even those developing their own systems—conduct observations of probationary teachers early in the year and provide timely feedback. 

State response to our analysis

Rhode Island reiterated that tenured teachers with highly effective ratings must be evaluated no more than once every three years. Tenured teachers with effective ratings must be evaluated no more than once every two years. The state asserted that teachers who are using a different certificate in their current placement than they were using during their most recent evaluation should be evaluated regardless of their last evaluation rating. Nontenured teachers, teachers who received no rating in the prior year, and teachers who received ratings of ineffective or developing must be evaluated annually. More frequent evaluations may occur if part of a negotiated collective bargaining agreement, or if concerns arise about teacher performance.

Rhode Island also pointed out that all state-approved models include at least three observations of practice, although districts can decide to require additional observations. RIDE encourages evaluators to observe new teachers early in the year but does not require that they conduct observations of probationary teachers by a specific date; districts set educator evaluation implementation timelines.





How we graded

Research rationale

Annual evaluations are standard practice in most professional jobs.
Although there has been much progress on this front recently, about half of the states still do not mandate annual evaluations of teachers who have reached permanent or tenured status. The lack of regular evaluations is unique to the teaching profession and does little to advance the notion that teachers are professionals.

Further, teacher evaluations are too often treated as mere formalities rather than as important tools for rewarding good teachers, helping average teachers improve and holding weak teachers accountable for poor performance. State policy should reflect the importance of evaluations so that teachers and principals alike take their consequences seriously.

Evaluations are especially important for new teachers.
Individuals new to a profession frequently have reduced responsibilities coupled with increased oversight. As competencies are demonstrated, new responsibilities are added and supervision decreases. Such is seldom the case for new teachers, who generally have the same classroom responsibilities as veteran teachers, including responsibility for the academic progress of their students, but may receive limited feedback on their performance. In the absence of good metrics for determining who will be an effective teacher before he or she begins to teach, it is critical that schools and districts closely monitor the performance of new teachers.

The state should specifically require that districts observe new teachers early in the school year. This policy would help ensure that new teachers get the support they need early and that supervisors know from the beginning of the school year which new teachers (and which students) may be at risk. Subsequent observations provide important data about the teacher's ability to improve. Data from evaluations from the teacher's early years of teaching can then be used as part of the performance-based evidence to make a decision about tenure.

Frequency of Evaluations: Supporting Research
For the frequency of evaluations in government and private industry, see survey results from Hudson Employment Index's report: "Pay and Performance in America: 2005 Compensation and Benefits Report" Hudson Group (2005).

For research emphasizing the importance of evaluation and observations for new teachers in predicting future success and providing support for teachers see, D. Staiger and J. Rockoff, "Searching for Effective Teachers with Imperfect Information." Journal of Economic Perspectives. Volume 24, No. 3, Summer 2010, pp. 97-118.