Winona Area Public Schools (WAPS) are aiming to improve student achievement through new, thorough teacher evaluations, which are on track to be implemented this fall, according to WAPS Director of Learning and Teaching Kelly Halvorsen. Teachers will be evaluated on student achievement data, which includes test scores. Teachers will establish instruction and student achievement goals, and the new state legislation requiring the evaluations allows districts to discipline teachers who do not make progress toward established goals.
According to information provided by WAPS administration, the new evaluation process is designed to develop, improve and support teachers and effective teaching practices, while at the same time ensuring that students learn and succeed.
Halvorsen will present information on the new teacher evaluation plan at Thursday’s WAPS Board meeting. WAPS administration and the Winona Education Association (WEA), which is the WAPS teacher’s union, have been working together for the past two years to revise the teacher evaluation process. “The [evaluation process] is the same for all teachers,” Halvorsen said. “All tenured teachers will be evaluated on a three-year cycle.”
The three-year cycle will include three performance observations, a summative performance evaluation report and overall summative report in the first year of the cycle. Following the first evaluation, tenured teachers will establish goals based on observations and summative performances, which will lead into year two of the cycle. Year two involves tenured teachers working on the goals they established in year one as well as reviewing their progress with teaching peers. In the final year of the cycle, year three, tenured teachers will continue with their work to meet their established goals and review progress with peers, which will culminate in a final report presented to WAPS administration. After year three’s evaluation the cycle will start over again with year one. “It is on a three-year cycle that will always continue,” Halvorsen explained.
Probationary teachers, who are teachers within their first three years of teaching, will be evaluated on the first year of the cycle for all three years of their probationary period. Over the first three years of teaching within the district, probationary teachers will receive a total of nine evaluations. Halvorsen noted that these in-class evaluations will be done by school principals. “[The evaluations will be] done by a principal and they can be a principal from another [WAPS] school,” Halvorsen stated. “In order to be a qualified observer you have to have a K-12 Minnesota principal’s license.”
Besides the heavy focus on performance evaluation, which makes up 55 percent of a teacher’s performance review, the new teacher evaluation plan will also include non-summative measures, such as parent and student surveys and comments, which make up 10 percent of a teacher’s performance review, and agreed upon student achievement data, which includes Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) scores as well as other student achievement data for subjects that are not covered by MCA testing. The most recent results from MCA testing, which is done by districts statewide, have already been released to the district but will not be made available for the public until the end of August. Student achievement growth and data will be 35 percent of a teacher’s performance review. “Not everything is evaluated by the MCAs, such as social studies,” Halvorsen explained in reference to various student achievement data that will be used. “The student data for this first year will be agreed upon by the teacher and administration.”