Department of Public Instruction:
I am here today to express some concerns over the new proposed statewide educator evaluation system’s equivalency process. I believe that it is important that we have accurate and rigorous measures for teachers in all schools across the state. Identifying high-performing teachers, while using performance data to guide professional development for educators is a keystone for successful human capital management in schools. I applaud DPI’s efforts so far to create a comprehensive system that captures the essential traits of being a highly effective teacher as well as using student outcomes to determine teacher success.
However, it is important that any teacher evaluation system is fair, transparent, and most importantly, works for all schools so they can best serve the needs of their students. The equivalency process is one way to address these concerns, and it should be extended to all charter schools, not just 2R schools. Non-instrumentality charter schools in particular, should be allowed to submit equivalent evaluation plans, as it is crucial for those schools to have autonomy over employee evaluations as their own non-profit organization. Otherwise, the state is giving school districts the responsibility of evaluating another independent school’s employees. Human capital is the key for our most successful schools, and is a critical component of the autonomy that have allowed charter schools in Milwaukee to be the highest-performing sector of public schools in the city.
Another measure that I strongly hope DPI will consider is to provide funding to all schools and districts who apply for equivalency to translate their data to be compatible with the statewide system. If funding is made available through the state in the form of grants for schools to transition to the new system, those grants should also be available to those schools whose equivalency processes have been approved. Schools would then use those funds for the cost of staffing, training, or software upgrades that would assist with the mandated reporting for the new statewide system.
I hope that you will consider the needs of these independent schools when addressing the equivalency rule for the statewide educator effectiveness system. If schools are able to use research-based, high-quality evaluations that better meet their needs, or are even more rigorous than the statewide system, their autonomy in using such a system to evaluate their employees should be protected.
Sean Roberts, Executive Director, Milwaukee Charter School Advocates
700 W Virginia St, Ste 602 Milwaukee, WI 53204