Identifying Effective Teachers Policy
The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Wisconsin does not require that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations.
The state has repealed its data firewall and now allows the use of standardized testing results in teacher evaluations. Districts that use examination results as part of their teacher evaluations must develop a plan that includes a description of the process, multiple criteria in addition to testing results, the rationale for using results to evaluate teachers and an explanation of how it plans to use the evaluations to improve pupil academic achievement.
Further, Wisconsin requires that districts conduct classroom observations.
Wisconsin Administrative Code PI 8.01(2)(q) S.B. 372
Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Although Wisconsin's new policy allowing student data to be a part of teacher evaluations is a step in the right direction, it falls short by failing to require that evidence of student learning be the most significant criterion. The state should either require a common evaluation instrument in which evidence of student learning is the most significant criterion, or it should specifically require that student learning be the preponderant criterion in local evaluation processes. This can be accomplished by requiring objective evidence to count for at least half of the evaluation score or through other scoring mechanisms, such as a matrix, that ensure that nothing affects the overall score more. Whether state or locally developed, a teacher should not be able to receive a satisfactory rating if found ineffective in the classroom.
Ensure that classroom observations specifically focus on and document the effectiveness of instruction.
Although Wisconsin commendably requires classroom observations as part of teacher evaluations, the state should articulate guidelines that focus classroom observations on the quality of instruction, as measured by student time on task, student grasp or mastery of the lesson objective and efficient use of class time.
Utilize rating categories that meaningfully differentiate among various levels of teacher performance.
To ensure that the evaluation instrument accurately differentiates among levels of teacher performance, Wisconsin should require districts to utilize multiple rating categories, such as highly effective, effective, needs improvement and ineffective. A binary system that merely categorizes teachers as satisfactory or unsatisfactory is inadequate.
Wisconsin recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that in October 2010, the superintendent convened a Design Team on Educator Effectiveness. It was charged with developing key guiding principles of a high-quality educator effectiveness system, creating model performance-based evaluation systems for teachers and principals, building a regulatory framework for implementation that includes how student achievement data will be used in context, and making recommendations for methods to support educator improvement and to recognize performance.
"The ultimate goal of education is student learning. Effective educators are essential to achieving that goal for all students. We believe it is imperative that students have highly effective teams of educators to support them throughout their public education. We further believe that effective practice leading to better educational achievement requires continuous improvement and monitoring."
Wisconsin also noted that a strong evaluation system is designed to provide information that supports decisions intended to ensure continuous individual and system effectiveness. The system must be well-articulated, manageable, reliable and sustainable. "The goal of this system is to provide students with highly qualified and effective educators who focus on student learning."