Relations appear tense between the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers, one of two teachers’ unions in Rhode Island, and State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist.

Gist sent a letter to Superintendents at the end of January reminding them that state regulations require staffing decisions to be based on performance, rather than the number of years a teacher has been on the job, a practice common in many schools.

Massachusetts lawmakers have swiftly passed a bill calling for all school districts to use new teacher evaluations and reduce the role of seniority in personnel decisions.