For the first time, Wisconsin would have a standardized system for determining the best and worst educators, under a proposal outlined Monday by State Superintendent Tony Evers.
The system would base half of teacher evaluations on classroom practices and the other half on student results, such as test scores, which have not been used before in the state. Such a system "marks a major shift for Wisconsin," according to a preliminary report from a state task force Evers first convened last December.
"It's a big move for the state," Deputy State Superintendent Mike Thompson said. "It was a big step at the beginning to get some consensus from players around the state as to what a good evaluation system will look like."
DPI is studying the cost and necessary legislative changes to make the system a reality, Thompson said. A system must be in place by the 2014-15 school year for Wisconsin to qualify for a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said he had concerns about the lengthy timeline and any attempt to make the system mandatory.
Districts should be allowed to develop systems on two main principles in the framework — basing 50 percent of an evaluation on student outcomes, and using national standards to evaluate classroom practices, Olsen said.
"I don't care if you build a two-story or a ranch or a bungalow, just as long as the foundation is right," Olsen said. "The two core principles need to be required, but that's as far as it goes."
But Christina Brey, spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Education Association Council, said educators would be less supportive if the entire framework isn't adopted.
"Everybody at the table, including us, was very clear that you're either following the framework or you're not," Brey said. "The idea of taking any single piece out of this would not be acceptable."
The framework released Monday outlines several details, including:
• Half of a teacher's evaluation would be based on a mix of student factors, including improvement on state and local tests; achievement of student, school and district goals; and school reading scores and graduation rates.
• The other half of a teacher's evaluation would be based on standards developed by a national consortium of educators.
• Based on the evaluation, educators would be categorized as "developing," "effective" or "exemplary."
• Teachers evaluated as "developing" for an unspecified period of time would enter an "intervention phase" resulting in possible removal.
• New teachers would be evaluated in each of their first three years, "developing" teachers would be evaluated annually and other teachers would be evaluated every three years. The evaluation would be based on "multiple observations" of classroom practice by a supervisor and possibly a peer.
• Classroom evaluators would be certified through a consistent statewide program.
• Individual ratings would not be subject to the state's open records law.
The framework was developed by a task force consisting of teacher unions, school district associations, university officials, academic researchers and the governor's office.
Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad said he expects to discuss with the School Board in coming months whether the district should pilot the program.
"What this could create is an opportunity to look at our current system and make changes consistent with these recommendations," Nerad said.