New Wisconsin Framework for Educator Effectiveness has flaws

State Schools Superintendent Tony Evers announced recently the state of Wisconsin will implement a new way to evaluate teachers.

Known as the Wisconsin Framework for Educator Effectiveness, this new plan will evaluate teachers on three levels: developing, effective, or exemplary.  For teachers who are regularly evaluated as developing, the new framework will require an intervention.

If no improvement is shown, the teacher can be terminated. New teachers will be evaluated each of their first three years, those with a developing rating will be evaluated annually and other teachers with effective or exemplary ratings and at least three years of experience will be evaluated every three years.

Whitewater was originally founded as a teaching school. Today, the university is full of future teachers who this framework will directly effect.

For years government has struggled to find a perfect system for evaluating teachers. The problem is that there are a lot of contributing factors that go into evaluation that are often overlooked such as demographics and poverty levels. While the intentions for this framework were good, lawmakers in Madison missed their mark.

The framework states that 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation will be based on student output — mainly state standardized testing and state reading scores. These standardized tests are a problem in our educational system.

Whether the student is in fourth grade or a sophomore in high school, if they are taking a standardized test that has no bearing on their final grade, what is the motivation? It doesn’t make sense that we should have teachers’ careers and salaries hinge on an optional test for students.

While every student must take the test, it is optional mentally. There is no incentive to do well and no consequence if the students choose to fill in ‘B’ for every answer. While some may scoff at the idea of a student blowing off a standardized test for no reason, this happens often.

Some school districts try to add incentive for students. For example, some high schools excuse students from final exams if they do well on standardized tests.

With this new framework, it gives the students a certain power over their teachers. If a student disliked their teacher they could purposely fail their standardized test.

If the student was younger, all they would need to know is the standardized test ‘isn’t a part of your final grade’ and they would let their minds wander as they completed their required reading test.

Teacher evaluation is difficult because some schools have students with parents who are more highly educated than others. Certain schools have students who are going to be able to succeed easier than others.

If we do want to evaluate teachers using standardized test scores then we must make the students care. Having the results count for an increment of the students’ grades would make them care more about a test being used to determine their teacher’s future.

Teachers are important in our society and we must reward the  best we have. But lets make sure we are evaluating them correctly and fairly to ensure we have the very best in Wisconsin.

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