Wisconsin Districts consider paying teachers based on evaluations

Erin Richards and Tom Tolan:

At Nicolet Union High School, science teacher Karyl Rosenberg keeps the evaluations she’s received over the past 21 years in neat files: one for each of her first three years of probationary teaching, and one every third year after that.
So far this year, she’s been observed twice briefly by a principal. But how she will be formally evaluated in years to come is still unclear.
That’s because many districts across the state, including Nicolet, are developing new systems for measuring teacher performance that aim to better distinguish superior educators from those who are average or below par. They will likely use student achievement growth as one measure of performance, and the results of the evaluation may help administrators decide whom to promote, dismiss or provide with more targeted help.
Research continues to show that the most significant in-school factor to improve student performance is teacher effectiveness, but Wisconsin districts such as Nicolet have been spurred to action by another factor: the Act 10 legislation signed by Gov. Scott Walker.
The legislation has dramatically limited collective bargaining in about two-thirds of the state’s districts so far, and it allows for pay structures and staffing decisions based on factors other than seniority. But for quality rather than years of experience to be used as a determining factor in such decisions, administrators need an accurate tool to assess it.