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Teacher certification set for overhaul

September 15, 2011

The head of Rhode Island College’s teacher training program is raising concerns about how teachers maintain their credentials. State officials want to tie teacher certification to a new system of annual teacher evaluations launching this year. RIC School of Education Dean Sasha Sidorkin says that system is largely untested.

“The new evaluation system is really brand new. It’s in pilot stage,” Sidorkin said. “It is a very complicated, many layered system. We just don’t know how its going to behave.”

Sidorkin says the state should set specific requirements beyond the evaluations. He points to medical and legal professionals, who are required to complete specific courses and seminars to maintain their credentials.

“You know its not an intended consequence, but it will lead to de-professionalization of teaching,” Sidorkin said, adding that this has long been a concern for teachers.  “Historically this profession has been struggling to be considered the same in terms of status as other professions.”

State education officials say the re-vamped credentialing system will allow more local control over professional development. In the past, teachers could chose from a menu of continuing education options set by the state. Under the new rules, individual teachers and principals will use annual performance reviews to determine professional development.

The proposal would also revoke certification for any teacher who receives the lowest evaluation rating for several consecutive years. The State Board of Education is scheduled to review the proposal at a meeting later today.

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