I had the opportunity recently to participate in the Quality New Mexico Conference, thanks to French Funerals Cremations covering my registration expense. Â Keynote speakers provided great insights into the quality journey Â in a corporate setting, but I was particularly interested in breakout sessions presented by JoAnn Sternke, Superintendent of the Pewaukee School DistrictÂ in southeastern Wisconsin.
One of Dr. Sternke’s presentations covered the Wisconsin Framework for Educator Effectiveness (aka, teacher and principal evaluation) recently established by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (the counterpart to the New Mexico Public Education Department). Â Wisconsin’s need for such a system was urgent, explained Dr. Sternke, due to the state’s legislation earlier this year that abolished unions for public employees.
Their system includes 50% of a teacher’s evaluation based on principal observations. Â Principal observations have been the primary source in the past for teacher evaluations, but the Wisconsin framework beefs up the process by adding very detailed observation tools. Â By contrast, New Mexico’s current teacher evaluation system consists of principal observations and an infrequent but comprehensive portfolio for growth in levels of licensure. Â The system proposed in the legislation that did not pass the 2012 legislative session included 25% of a teacher’s evaluation based on observations of teacher practice.
In Wisconsin, the remaining 50% of a teacher’s evaluation comes from student outcomes, but what determines those outcomes is far different than the 50% in the the New Mexico proposed teacher evaluation systemÂ that comes exclusively from a student’s growth on standards-based assessments. Â In Wisconsin, the student outcomes consist of three measures, each worth 15%: the student’s standards-based assessment scores, district measures of student achievement, and teacher-established student learning objectives (read – teacher goals set for student growth over the year). Â The remaining 5% of student outcomes is split equally between the students’ standards-based assessment scores for the school as a whole, and an additional measure that is to be determined by the district.
Clearly there are lots of ways to crack the nut of teacher evaluation. Â Here’s hoping that in New Mexico we will have the opportunity to learn from other states and collaboratively discuss and decide among alternatives.