Yesterday, the Rhode Island Department of Education released this report about educator evaluation in our state. In short, the report shows that nearly every teacher and administrator in Rhode Island is Effective or Highly Effective. Statewide, 98% of teachers are rated Effective and 56% of teachers reached the highest bar of Highly Effective. The results really have me thinking, and many questions come to mind, including:
- Is it really possible that with Rhode Island’s low proficiency rates and high achievement gaps on the New England Common Assessment Program that basically all of our teachers are Effective or Highly Effective?
- Is it really possible that with almost 70% of the students enrolling in the Community College of Rhode Island need to take non-credit bearing remedial courses that everyone is Effective or Highly Effective?
Honestly, these results just don’t add up!
Today’s Providence Journal addresses this issue, and the reporter, Linda Borg, notes the dichotomy of BVP’s data in particular: “The Blackstone Valley Prep [Mayoral Academy] in northern Rhode Island report[s] less than a third of their teachers are highly effective yet they show the most growth in student achievement.” Does it really make sense that BVP’s rate of Highly Effective (HE) teachers are more than 20 points lower than the state average and trailing each of BVP’s four sending districts by double-digits (Central Falls 78% Highly Effective; Cumberland 46% HE; Lincoln 55% HE; Pawtucket 41% HE)?
This past June I met with my principals to review our final end-of-year data, and I was a little surprised. While I am the first to say that I love our teachers, that they work incredibly hard, and that, by-and-large, they deliver great instruction, I actually worried that our scores were inflated. Indeed, based on my observations and data analysis, I expected my principals to present to me a wider distribution of results. That 31% of our team was Highly Effective and that only one teacher was Developing was a red flag. (That none were ineffective did not surprise me because we spend so much time selecting teachers on the front end and supporting them throughout their careers.)
The truth of the matter is this: if we are going to improve our schools, we have to be more courageous in our conversations about what it means to be an Effective teacher. We need to seize the “fierce urgency of now” and get to work setting and holding the high bar for our educators that our students deserve.
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