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Teachers “overwhelmed” by evaluation system

March 28, 2012

The National Education Association of Rhode Island has asked for a slow-down in the implementation of new teacher evaluations, citing frustration and fatigue on the part of teachers.

“Teachers and administrators feel overwhelmed by the demands being placed on them while being required to do more and more, often with fewer resources,” NEARI President Larry Purtill said in a written statement.

The union has sent a resolution to State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, asking her to delay full implementation of the new evaluation system. The resolution points out that teachers are working on a major curriculum overhaul and preparing to switch to new standardized tests. At the same time, the state is ramping up performance evaluations, asking teachers to meet multiple times with evaluators, set goals and eventually include student test scores in their ratings.

State education officials say they are refining the teacher evaluation system as they get feedback from teachers and administrators. However, Rhode Island Department of Education Spokesman Elliot Krieger did not indicate any intention of slowing down the transition.

“Rhode Island is committed to moving to full implementation of educator evaluations during the next school year,” Krieger wrote in an email.

Two districts, Jamestown and Warwick, have already put the new teacher rating system into full effect. Other districts have started using the process but with fewer class observations and fewer teacher goals and objectives. State officials say they are expected to gradually phase in the full system over the course of the school year.

The teacher evaluations are part of Rhode Island’s $75 million federal Race to the Top grant program and a significant component of Education Commissioner Deborah Gist’s agenda for improving public schools.

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