Monday, August 31, 2009

How Criterion-Based Hiring Worked for Us

Under the new criterion-based hiring system imposed on the Providence school district by the RI Commissioner of Education, earlier this summer my wife applied to be Social Studies Teacher Leader at the high school where she has taught for a decade. She had recommendations from the principal and another experienced teacher in the department. She is head of the School Improvement Team. She is a former Teacher of the Year at the school.

She has developed standards based social studies curriculum for the state of Connecticut and has had a key role in designing and implementing standards-based, multi-disciplinary, project-based curriculum at her current school, using exhibitions and digital portfolios for performance assessment. She has worked with the RI Department of Education on countless committees and initiatives, including a participating in a SALT school inspection team and contributing to the development of state's performance-based graduation requirements.

She has extensive experience training teachers, both from in-house professional development and a long relationship with the Brown University teacher education program, where she served both as a Mentor Teacher during the intensive summer component of their teacher education program, and as a cooperating teacher for student teachers in her classroom.

And she has a MAT and BA in Social History from highly ranked universities.

She was the only applicant for the job.

A few weeks later we received a letter stating that she did not get the job, "no candidate possessed the knowledge and skills suitable for the position," and it would be re-opened.

It is particularly worth reiterating that she had a written recommendation from the principal of the school, who, under the district's implementation of the Criterion-Based Hiring and Staffing Plan, has less authority to select staff for his own school than he did under the previous contract.

She subsequently re-applied for the job and was re-interviewed for the job, which was ultimately given to a junior member of the department faculty. It is unclear what the actual criteria were for this "criterion-based hiring."

OK Providence, we get the message. This is what you call "ensuring educator excellence."

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