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Gist to Delay Teacher-Evaluation Component in Rhode Island

Rhode Island Commissioner Deborah Gist will seek to delay for a year using the results of state standardized tests in teachers' evaluations, the Providence Journal reports.

Rhode Island is one of the states that have received both a Race to the Top grant and a waiver under the No Child Left Behind Act, both of which require the state to put into place evaluations that rely in part on student test scores. It's unclear whether this delay might require federal approval on one or both counts.

At least three states have gotten into trouble with the feds over teacher-evaluation problems, but the Education Department also recently announced some additional wiggle room where the NCLB waivers are concerned.

Gist is one of the Chiefs for Change, a group that generally embraces teacher evaluation and accountability in K-12 education, so this is a notable policy change. She recently won a two-year renewal in her position, but has been under fire from educators for moving too quickly on teacher evaluations and other initiatives.

The Providence Journal reports that teachers were confused about the evaluation system, with many believing students would have to reach "proficient" on tests in order to earn good scores. (In fact, the evaluation system is based on achievement growth, not on absolute scores.)

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