Teacher and Principal Evaluation Policy
The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers. This goal remained consistent between 2017 and 2019.
Frequency of evaluations: Wisconsin does not require all teachers to be evaluated annually. All teachers must be evaluated during the first year of employment and then at least every third year thereafter. These are called summary years, with the in-between years called supporting years. Although teachers are required to create student growth and educator practice goals during both summary and supporting years, it is unclear whether teachers receive evaluation scores each year or the supporting-years' goals are compiled for summary evaluations.
Multiple observations: Wisconsin requires that during summary years, teachers receive one announced observation, plus three to five unannounced miniobservations.
Feedback for new teachers: Wisconsin state policy does not include a requirement that new teachers be observed and receive feedback early in the year.
Wisconsin Administrative Rule PI 8.01(q) Educator Effectiveness System User Guide, Revised 2018-2019: https://dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/ee/pdf/teacherprocessmanual.pdf
Require annual formal evaluations for all teachers. All teachers in Wisconsin should be evaluated annually. Rather than treated as mere formalities, these teacher evaluations should serve as important tools for rewarding good teachers, helping average teachers improve and holding weak teachers accountable for poor performance.
Base evaluations on multiple observations. To guarantee that annual evaluations are based on an adequate collection of information, Wisconsin should require multiple observations for all teachers, even those who have nonprobationary status.
Ensure that new teachers are observed and receive feedback early in the school year. It is critical that schools and districts closely monitor the performance of new teachers. Wisconsin should ensure that its new teachers get the support they need, and that supervisors know early on which new teachers may be struggling or at risk for failing to meet minimum standards of performance.
Wisconsin asserted that it does not require or promote summative ratings. "It is easy to identify educators that are struggling or the most effective. We don't need a system to do that. We have designed a system that identifies for each individual the specific practices they are strong in and those they need to improve and a system that supports them in doing so. As such, we do not focus on overall ratings. An overall rating doesn't provide any specific feedback. We ask evaluators to keep feedback at the most discreet level (critical attributes within the Framework for Teaching) because that more accurately describes, specifically, where a teacher is doing well and where they are struggling. An overall rating blurs this to 'best describe' practice. We do not find that useful in informing change. All educators must be observed at least once every year."
Wisconsin added: "In a few months, we will be releasing a report that directly links implementation of our system to significant positive outcomes. Our system directly impacts teacher satisfaction and retention. And every time implementation in a school improves, so do student outcomes. The impact on student outcomes compounds across years when teachers stay in the building—which, as noted, they do. So our system is working as intended when implemented as intended. We fully intend to support it as such."
7C: Frequency of Evaluation and Observation
Observations serve several purposes, including to provide actionable feedback to teachers and to provide a summative rating that can be used in staffing decisions. Observations can be a rich source of information for teachers, giving them useful feedback to improve their practice.
Multiple data sources should be used in teacher evaluation, including multiple observations by more than one observer. Teacher observations conducted by principals that occur once or twice a year and consist of rating teachers on observable behaviors and characteristics have not proved valid. Research widely finds that the nature of their role as both instructional leaders and summative judges inhibits principals' ability to reliably serve as evaluators. In contrast, observations conducted by peers and other observers with subject knowledge are valid and reliable. Additionally, teacher observations are more effective when they occur in tandem with aligned professional development.
Observations are especially important for new teachers. In the absence of good metrics for determining who will be an effective teacher before he or she begins to teach, it is critical that schools and districts closely monitor the performance of new teachers. States should specifically require that new teachers receive an observation early in the school year. Early feedback may be especially essential for new teachers, given that teachers' performance in their first year is a strong predictor of their performance in later years.
Student reports of teacher quality are a unique and largely untapped source of rich data. Research finds that student input on teacher quality adds value to teacher evaluation systems. Research also finds teachers prefer evaluation systems that include student survey data. Students' first-hand reports of classroom elements (e.g., textbooks, homework, instruction), teacher-student communication, assignments, and daily classroom operations may provide teachers with credible information about their impact in the classroom, as well as serve as a tool for formative evaluation. Student perceptions of learning environments can be reliable and predictive of learning. Including student surveys in teacher evaluation systems strengthens the ability to identify teachers' effects on outcomes beyond standardized test scores. In addition, teacher evaluation systems that include student survey data, which are somewhat correlated with teachers' student growth measures, are stronger, more reliable, and more valid than those that rely solely on administrator reports and observations.