Teacher and Principal Evaluation Policy
The state should ensure that teachers receive feedback about their performance and should require professional development to be based on needs identified through teacher evaluations. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Evaluation Feedback: Rhode Island requires that all teachers receive detailed feedback during midyear and end-of-year conferences.
Professional Development: Rhode Island requires all teachers to create professional growth plans, which should be based on past performance (e.g., evaluation) or a school/district goal and aligned with the professional practice/responsibilities rubric.
Improvement Plans: Rhode Island provides intensive support and evaluation for teachers rated less-than-effective. "The Plan should identify specific supports and teacher actions and establish a timeline for improvement, as well as frequent benchmarks and check-ins."
Evaluation Rating Categories: Rhode Island requires multiple rating categories: highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective.
2016-2017 Handbook: http://www.ride.ri.gov/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/Teachers-and-Administrators-Excellent-Educators/Educator-Evaluation/Guidebooks-Forms/Teacher_Guidebook_2015-16.pdf
As a result of Rhode Island's strong policy linking evaluation to professional growth policies, no recommendations are provided.
Rhode Island recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
7D: Linking Evaluation to Professional Growth
Professional development should be connected to needs identified through teacher evaluations. The goal of teacher evaluation systems should be not just to identify highly effective teachers and those who underperform but to help all teachers improve. Even highly effective teachers may have areas where they can continue to grow and develop their knowledge and skills. Rigorous evaluations should provide actionable feedback on teachers' strengths and weaknesses that can form the basis of professional development activities. Too often professional development is random rather than targeted to the identified needs of individual teachers. Failure to make the connection between evaluations and professional development squanders the likelihood that professional development will be meaningful.
Many states are only explicit about tying professional development plans to evaluation results if the evaluation results are bad. Good evaluations with meaningful feedback should be useful to all teachers, and if done right should help design professional development plans for all teachers—not just those who receive poor ratings.
To further increase the utility and validity of evaluation systems, states should require that evaluation instruments differentiate among various levels of teacher performance rather than only giving binary satisfactory/unsatisfactory ratings. Binary rating systems often offer little meaning because virtually all teachers receive satisfactory ratings. More rating categories allow for more nuanced distinctions between levels of teacher performance.