The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Test scores now trump seniority when judging teachers

Evaluations factoring in test scores and student performance may now be a more significant factor in faculty retention than seniority for Wisconsin public schools, according to Act 10 legislation signed by Governor Scott Walker last Thursday.

Joan Whipp, an associate professor in education, said she fears tactics in teacher evaluations such as utilizing test scores to discipline educators may lead to undesirable results.

“I worry that this will only encourage more of the ‘teach to the test’ mentality in schools that has already contributed to the erosion of teaching and learning in public schools, particularly urban schools, throughout the country and in Wisconsin,” Whipp said.

The new act judges teachers on the quality of their students’ performance and growth as a means for termination or future advising.

Libby Anvender, a sophomore in the College of Education, said the legislation rewarding quality over seniority would be beneficial.

“I am observing a history teacher at Bayview High School (in Milwaukee), and if I were to write an evaluation, he would not be able to teach anymore because he does so poorly,” Anvender said in an email. “This is actually a problem in much of Milwaukee though … something needs to be done.”

However, not all schools will be affected. Certain schools, like charter school Milwaukee Excel High School have forfeited potential federal grants to avoid having to comply with the evaluation requirements.

Milwaukee Excel principal Nicole Johnson says her high school will not follow the legislation as it is organized under different regulations.

“We have a separate internal organization to discipline teachers,” Johnson said. “Parents are not involved in our decisions. It is just our administration.”

Johnson said she does not know how it would affect Milwaukee Public Schools as many districts like hers operate under separate circumstances. Many non-supporters of the legislation fear it promotes ambiguity because it may not equally affect all schools, she said.

Sam Hartman, a junior in the College of Education, said it is important for quality educators to be rewarded rather than undeserving teachers with seniority.

“I think we should stop keeping teachers (in the educational systems) just because they have been there forever,” she said.

Hartman said she likes the idea of teacher evaluations as a means of improving school systems by weeding out poor educators and praising successful ones. She does, however, have some reserves regarding who conducts them.

“It’s important to think about who is doing these evaluations,” Hartman said. “There is almost always a bias involved.”

Meghan Mountin, a sophomore in the College of Education, said the legislation is needed to improve Milwaukee Public Schools.

“I think that especially since teachers now are getting a lot more field experience and practice, that qualifies them for success,” she said.

Mountin said though experienced teachers might have more developed backgrounds and practices conducive to classroom success, standards are always changing, and it may be beneficial for new teachers with different ideas to serve as replacements.

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