What I (Think) I Know About the Educator Effectiveness Initiative

What is the Educator Effectiveness Initiative?
It is the new way we are going to be assessed as public educators. Instead of the once every three year dog-and-pony show, there will be several shorter observations every year. These snapshots of teaching will be collected as artifacts over time. Every three years, you and your supervisor will come to a rating based on the many pieces of evidence collected. A rubric with four ratings (Highly Effective, Effective, Minimally Effective, Ineffective) will be used to make a final determination. It is based on the Charlotte Danielson model for instruction.

Where did this initiative come from?
A little while back, the federal government was offering states Race to the Top funds. States applied for these funds to receive waivers from Adequate Yearly Progress and No Child Left Behind. Wisconsin applied twice and was denied both times. It may not be a bad thing, however. States that were initially accepted for RTTT are now expected to follow through on their commitment on using student outcomes in addition to supervisor ratings for evaluation purposes. There have been some problems with this, especially in states like California. We are being told that Wisconsin is looking at how the other states are progressing when developing our plan.

Will our ratings be public, like principals’ evaluations are now?
No. It was stressed by several organizations representing educators that public educators’ evaluations not be for public consumption. That means newspapers and citizens will no longer be allowed to request this information. Act 166 is the legislation that contains this language.

What will these “more frequent observations” look like?
They can take many forms. A few that were encouraged by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction include walkthroughs and look-fors, narrative feedback, minutes from staff collaborations, student products, video documentation of lessons, peer observations, surveys and more.  Also, the teacher and the principal will work together to develop goals for each year. Observations curated in an educator’s portfolio will be a collaborative effort, although the supervisor will make the final rating.

Say what? We have to create portfolios now?
Not in the traditional sense, but my understanding is yes. There has to be a way to curate and store all of these observations to go back to later. I think technology will play a big part in this. Currently the DPI is still exploring tools for this purpose and is open to suggestions. My thoughts? I think Google Sites could be a great way to house all of this information in a secure way, but I am also open to whatever works for us.

Is this going away?  No, and that could be a good thing

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an 18-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District (http://mineralpointschools.org/). Matt also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD (www.ascd.org) and Lead Literacy (www.leadliteracy.com).

One thought on “What I (Think) I Know About the Educator Effectiveness Initiative”

  1. I am an administrator in Ohio and we have been forced to accept a similar teacher/principal evaluation. I am firmly opposed to such an evaluation, especially one that places up to 50% on student growth measures. When will parents be held accountable for student learning? We do not rank dentists poorly because they frequently deal with folks who have cavities. Furthermore, every person needing to be evaluated every year is simply not possible. The state trainer told us it would take the equivalent of 1 full working day for every staff member to do it justice. In my building that would be 90 days of 185. Not possible.

    The state trainers asked us to think of ourselves as lawyers, collecting evidence to evaluate teachers. The fact is that lawyers manipulate evidence for their benefit. I can collect as much or little evidence and place it wherever I want to make teachers appear how I want. Teaching cannot be standardized (like everything else in education). These are not steps in the right direction.


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