September 20, 2014
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A lesson in teacher evaluations
LETTERS

To the Editor:

The new teacher evaluation system in Rhode Island, mandated and paid for by the $75 million "Race to The Top" federal funding grant, requires too much of a teacher's time to implement and requires teachers to change many of their long held teaching techniques. Many teachers feel that this new system will burn them out and decrease their effectiveness.

Teacher evaluations should be based on how well these teachers perform in the classroom. Are the required lessons being taught and are their students demonstrating competency. In addition, teacher evaluations should not be carried out by local administrators who may have an ax to grind. Specially trained outside evaluating teams should be brought in to carry out the evaluation process.

To improve teacher productivity, educators have to start using 21st century computer technology to store the daily lessons to be taught during the school year. Teachers do not have the time to plan and write detailed daily lessons for each class that they teach.

Commissioner Gist, and her staff, should have spent their time and money designing, writing, updating and computerizing the daily lessons to be taught in each subject area. Rhode Island's teachers are competent and well trained and would be able to implement any well-written daily lesson.

Each daily computerized lesson would match the curriculum and each print out of the lesson would include the basic lesson plan, the materials needed for the lesson and suggestions on how to teach each lesson. Print outs would also include student reading material. Computer technology would allow this reading material to be tailored to meet the individual needs of each student. Print outs of drills, quizzes and weekly tests would be available that would be immediately corrected by computer technology. This would be very motivating for students and allow teachers and administrators to quickly plan remedial activities. Supplementary materials and homework assignments would be provided to students online with many opportunities for individualized teacher/student interactions. A blend of face-to-face and online teaching strategies could be achieved.

Teaching lessons in this manner would also ensure that all students cover the required curriculum materials during the school year. If a teacher is absent, the substitute would be able to teach the required lessons. When a student is absent for a period of time, these computer lessons would allow for successful home schooling that would exactly match the lessons being taught in school. Local control of curriculum content would be achieved and a record of most teacher/student interactions would be produced.

When teachers in each school system have access to detailed, well-written daily lessons, teacher evaluations would be fairer and would be conducted on a level playing field.

Kenneth Berwick
Smithfield


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