As Another School Year Starts, New Teacher Evaluations, Standardized Tests Begin

New Teacher Evaluation System Starts Statewide

 teachingpalette (CC-BY)

Tuesday is the first day back in the classroom for many students in Wisconsin’s public schools. The new school year brings some changes, including a new teacher evaluation system that goes into effect statewide and new standardized tests that will be used in the spring.

The state’s new teacher evaluation system has been piloted at many school districts around Wisconsin for last few years, but this school year, it will be implemented throughout the Badger state.

While the practice of teacher evaluation isn’t new, the new system will bring uniformity to the process. Teachers will be rated on their practice and on student outcomes — each of which will count as 50 percent.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Betsy Kippers, the president of the statewide teachers union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, said teachers generally support the system although some are nervous.

“Anytime you have significant change, fear is always there. And fear is sometimes a good thing,” Kippers said. “Because, I think it is going to lead to people working collaboratively to make sure the system is implemented how it was intended to be. It is intended to help students and teachers improve their practice, improved their learning and continue to grow together.”

Some teachers worry that districts might use those performance reviews to make high-stakes decisions that could involve pay or punishment.

State Superintendent Tony Evers said that the new Educator Effectiveness System isn’t meant to be used punitively. He said neither are the results of the new standardized tests that will replace the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WCKE) this year.

“These tests will be online and they will test students at a different level, not just a superficial level,” he said. “And it’s really isn’t to be used in a punitive way. The results will be used for school districts and the individual classrooms to take a look at how their kids are doing and how they can improve.”