CPRE, VARC Team Up to Help Build Wisconsin Educator Effectiveness System
In 2010, Wisconsin State Superintendent Tony Evers convened an Educator Effectiveness Design Team, representing Wisconsin educational stakeholders and partners, to develop an evaluation system that would give more detailed and accurate feedback on the performance of the state’s educators. The goal was to offer teachers and principals a meaningful resource to improve their practice and ultimately increase student learning outcomes. Following three years of design and testing, this fall, the Wisconsin Educator Effectiveness System will launch statewide.
To support the work of the Educator Effectiveness Design Team, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) contracted with experts from the Wisconsin Center for Education Research’s Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) and Value-Added Research Center (VARC). These organizations, with extensive research and practical experience on teacher and leader evaluation, helped identify possible measures and evaluation processes to assess teacher and school leader performance for the primary purpose of supporting educator growth in a variety of ways. The CPRE and VARC staff initially supported the Superintendent’s Design Team, which included representatives from the DPI, the governor’s office, and associations representing teachers, school administrators, school boards, and state colleges and universities. Following the Design Team recommendations, the WCER team facilitated work groups to develop specific measures and processes for the Educator Effectiveness System, and helped with the design and evaluation of two pilot evaluation phases of the state evaluation models. This work and the Design Team’s Educator Effectiveness Framework represented policy guidelines that were embraced in Wisconsin Act 166 and the State’s waiver proposal to requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act.
“It’s a great example of committed educators, state leaders, and researchers working together to accomplish something important for educators and students in Wisconsin,” said Steven Kimball (pictured above), the lead CPRE and VARC researcher who has been involved in the Educator Effectiveness project since its inception. “This collective effort holds the potential to create consistency in teacher and leader evaluation across the state.”
Kimball and Bradley Carl, a researcher and associate director at VARC, play especially significant roles, facilitating work groups on teacher and principal evaluation, and student and school learning objectives. CPRE and VARC also assist the DPI team in creating and refining performance measures, drafting evaluation manuals, designing and leading training sessions, carrying out the pilot evaluation, and assisting with communications efforts. Value-added measurements developed by VARC will be incorporated into the educator effectiveness system, and VARC will collaborate with DPI on producing annual value-added reports for teachers in 2017, after a sufficient amount of statistically meaningful data has been collected
“We were glad to have been able to help,” Carl said. “Applying our research and technical assistance experience to help policy makers and ultimately Wisconsin educators is an honor that epitomizes the Wisconsin Idea in action.”
“The DPI is deeply engaged in this initiative and it’s been gratifying to work so closely with them on this important project,” Kimball agreed. Kimball explained that DPI is striving to create a system that empowers educators to own their evaluation and growth opportunities. That fact is being highlighted by the U.S. Department of Education and others both nationally and internationally.
Other key CPRE and VARC personnel on this project include Professor Herb Heneman, and researchers Robin Worth, Jessica Arrigoni, and Clarissa Steele. Curtis Jones, formerly of WCER and now with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, is leading the pilot evaluation study. The WCER team, along with Dr. Jones, will continue to work with DPI and other stakeholders to manage implementation of the Educator Effectiveness system in the fall, and to ensure that it is used to its full potential to improve teaching and learning in the state in years to come, Kimball said.