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September 2, 2014

Educator Effectiveness evaluation rolled out

In planning for the past three years, the state’s Educator Effectiveness (EE) mandate goes into place this year for all district teachers, educational specialists and administrators. The Wisconsin Legislature mandated in 2011 that all public and charter schools use a new evaluation system at least the first year of an educator’s employment and every third year thereafter. The frequency of evaluations for the Hamilton School District has not changed, but the process has, according to Human Resources Director John Roubik who, with Instructional Supervisor Katie Little, Ph.D., updated the School Board on the district’s move to a new evaluation system.

After reviewing the state system, the district decided last year to use an evaluation system set up by CESA 6 known as the Effectiveness Project. The system is intended to provide teachers and principals with ongoing feedback and meaningful information about the impact their practice has on student learning and includes:

  • Teachers and principals coach and mentor each other based on identified strengths and growth opportunities, giving educators more control over their professional growth.
  • The EE system acknowledges the critical role educators play and provides the opportunity to reflect and refine practice to continually meet student needs.
  • Evaluators complete rigorous observation training before evaluating teachers and collecting evidence aligned to a specific rubric to minimize evaluator bias.

The system is consistent with the state’s expectation that evaluations are based equally on student outcomes and effective educator practice in the classroom. The Effectiveness Project evaluation for teachers and principals includes self-assessment, observation, a documentation log, survey, interim report, summative report, performance improvement and Student Learning Objective (SLO). All teachers and principals will set SLOs based on student achievement goals.

While the new evaluation system will be time-consuming for teachers and administrators, Hamilton may find itself in a better position than other districts because it has operated with a robust evaluation system for years. In addition, administrators have tried to align the new initiative with work already being done to improve student learning and achievement through school improvement plans and district strategic planning.

Little said the value of the initiative is that it is systematic and systemic in identifying what is needed to be an effective educator.

Variety of assessments ensure instruction needs are met

The district uses a variety of assessments to ensure that instruction meets the needs of students. Instructional Services Supervisor Katherine Little, Ph.D., presented a report on five district assessment program initiatives that the district will focus on in 2014-15:

  • Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) is required for all K4 to grade 2 students beginning this year. The screener will be used in the fall and spring.
  • Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) is used in grades 1-10 in Hamilton and for grades 11 and 12 special education students. Used in the district for more than a decade, the system was developed by the Northwest Evaluation Association. Data is used to help inform instruction and identify students for targeted intervention and extension.
  • District benchmarks are being reviewed in light of increased mandated standardized testing. The district writing assessment was evaluated and updated for rigor and relevance. Expansion to all grades at Templeton is being considered.
  • RtI progress monitoring uses assessment probes to monitor the progress of students involved with specific RtI interventions. The district shifted to AIMS Web as a tool to assess and track student progress for intervention. A refresher training workshop was offered to teachers in August.
  • State assessment will change this year with WKCE slated to be administered only in grades 4,8 and 10 in science and social studies. Smarter balanced assessments will be given in the spring for grades 3-8 in mathematics and reading. Ninth- and tenth-graders will take the ACT Aspire in the spring. The ACT Plus Writing and the ACT WorkKeys will be administered to juniors in the spring.

Curriculum revision process focuses on four areas

During the coming year, music, information and technology literacy, world languages and elementary writing will be content areas that committees will review and revise. Instructional Services Supervisor Katie Little, Ph.D., said committees will identify areas of strength and needed growth, review best practices and align curriculum with standards. Specific learning targets and student “I can” statements will be identified.

Two students admitted into kindergarten early

Two students were admitted early into kindergarten for 5-year-olds last year, according to a report presented by Special Services Supervisor John Peterson. District policy indicates children must be four, five or six years old by Sept. 1 to enter four-year-old kindergarten, regular kindergarten or first grade, respectively. While procedures exist for early admission to regular kindergarten and first grade, no early admission is granted for four-year-old kindergarten.

Personnel business for Sept. 2

In personnel business, the School Board:

  • accepted the resignations of Templeton paraprofessional Anna Zorn, Woodside paraprofessional Lisa Polaske, and Woodside part-time technology integration resource teacher Christine Wesling.
  • appointed Benjamin Helm as Hamilton replacement social studies teacher, Rebecca McGinley as Maple Avenue paraprofessional, Lisa Bennett as Marcy special services paraprofessional, Carisma Rush as Templeton special services paraprofessional, Kelly Downs as Maple Avenue paraprofessional, Jennifer Zuberbuehler as Hamilton special services paraprofessional and Lisa Hauser as Woodside paraprofessional; and
  • modified the contracts of Woodside physical education teacher Jennifer Reuter from 50 to 62 percent, Maple Avenue Early Reading Empowerment replacement teachers DeMaris Gill from 60 to 70 percent and Patricia Kitscha from 40 to 50 percent, and Marcy physical education teacher Devon Hauser from 33 to 40 percent.