Evaluation of Effectiveness: Wisconsin

Identifying Effective Teachers Policy


The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.

Meets goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2013). Evaluation of Effectiveness: Wisconsin results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/WI-Evaluation-of-Effectiveness-22

Analysis of Wisconsin's policies

Commendably, Wisconsin requires that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations. The state is in the process of implementing a comprehensive statewide evaluation system for teachers, the Wisconsin Educator Effectiveness System. Implementation is slated for the 2014-2015 school year. 
Fifty percent of the total evaluation score will be based on student outcomes. Value-added student growth scores will comprise a portion of the outcomes score for teachers in state-tested grades and subjects. All teachers must create a student learning outcomes (SLO) goal. For teachers without standardized assessment data, an additional SLO will be created. A small portion of the outcomes score will include a measure of schoolwide graduation or schoolwide reading scores, as well as a growth measure toward an initiative identified by the district. 
The remaining 50 percent will be based on educator practice, which includes multiple classroom observations. 
Multiple rating categories will be used: distinguished, proficient, basic and unsatisfactory. 

Removed district choice as an outcome measure. Now for most teachers, student outcomes are comprised of 95% SLOs/School Learning Objective score; 5% School-wide value-added or Graduation Rate scores.
Reduced from 2 SLOs annually to 1 annually; evaluator no longer required to approve the EEP or SLO goals.
SLO score is based on outcome results and process rather than results only; scores are no longer averaged; educator self-scores all SLOs (no evaluator scoring on individual SLOs.) The revised rubric evaluates the degree to which educators meet their student outcomes goals AND the quality of the educator's SLO implementation process.    
Revised SLO scoring rubric; holistic score instead of averaging multiple scores.


Recommendations for Wisconsin

State response to our analysis

Wisconsin was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.

Research rationale

Teachers should be judged primarily by their impact on students.

While many factors should be considered in formally evaluating a teacher, nothing is more important than effectiveness in the classroom. Unfortunately, districts have used many evaluation instruments, including some mandated by states that are structured, so that teachers can earn a satisfactory rating without any evidence that they are sufficiently advancing student learning in the classroom. It is often enough that teachers appear to be trying, not that they are necessarily succeeding.

Many evaluation instruments give as much weight, or more, to factors that lack any direct correlation with student performance—for example, taking professional development courses, assuming extra duties such as sponsoring a club or mentoring and getting along well with colleagues. Some instruments hesitate to hold teachers accountable for student progress. Teacher evaluation instruments should include factors that combine both human judgment and objective measures of student learning.

Evaluation of Effectiveness: Supporting Research

Reports strongly suggest that most current teacher evaluations are largely a meaningless process, failing to identify the strongest and weakest teachers. The New Teacher Project's report, "Hiring, Assignment, and Transfer in Chicago Public Schools", July 2007 at: http://www.tntp.org/files/TNTPAnalysis-Chicago.pdf, found that the CPS teacher performance evaluation system at that time did not distinguish strong performers and was ineffective at identifying poor performers and dismissing them from Chicago schools. See also Lars Lefgren and Brian Jacobs, "When Principals Rate Teachers," Education Next, Volume 6, No. 2, Spring 2006, pp.59-69. Similar findings were reported for a larger sample in The New Teacher Project's The Widget Effect (2009) at: http://widgeteffect.org/.  See also MET Project (2010). Learning about teaching: Initial findings from the measures of effective teaching project. Seattle, WA: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

A Pacific Research Institute study found that in California, between 1990 and 1999, only 227 teacher dismissal cases reached the final phase of termination hearings. The authors write: "If all these cases occurred in one year, it would represent one-tenth of 1 percent of tenured teachers in the state. Yet, this number was spread out over an entire decade." In Los Angeles alone, over the same time period, only one teacher went through the dismissal process from start to finish. See Pamela A. Riley, et al., "Contract for Failure," Pacific Research Institute (2002).

That the vast majority of districts have no teachers deserving of an unsatisfactory rating does not seem to correlate with our knowledge of most professions that routinely have individuals in them who are not well suited to the job. Nor do these teacher ratings seem to correlate with school performance, suggesting teacher evaluations are not a meaningful measure of teacher effectiveness. For more information on the reliability of many evaluation systems, particularly the binary systems used by the vast majority of school districts, see S. Glazerman, D. Goldhaber, S. Loeb, S. Raudenbush, D. Staiger, and G. Whitehurst, "Evaluating Teachers: The Important Role of Value-Added." The Brookings Brown Center Task Group on Teacher Quality, 2010. 

There is growing evidence suggesting that standards-based teacher evaluations that include multiple measures of teacher effectiveness—both objective and subjective measures—correlate with teacher improvement and student achievement. For example see T. Kane, E. Taylor, J. Tyler, and A. Wooten, "Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness." Education Next, Volume 11, No. 3, Summer 2011, pp.55-60; E. Taylor and J. Tyler, "The Effect of Evaluation on Performance: Evidence from Longitudinal Student Achievement Data of Mid-Career Teachers." NBER Working Paper No. 16877, March 2011; as well as H. Heneman III, A. Milanowski, S. Kimball, and A. Odden, "CPRE Policy Brief: Standards-based Teacher Evaluation as a Foundation for Knowledge- and Skill-based Pay," Consortium for Policy Research, March 2006.