Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV (MIU IV) is one of 29 IUs serving schools in Pennsylvania. Their intermediate unit serves the 27 school districts and 3 vo-techs in Butler, Lawrence, and Mercer Counties.
In addition to providing programs and services requested by area school districts, MIU IV also implements programs mandated by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the General Assembly, and the US Department of Education.
To learn more, please visit www.miu4.org.
Edulink interviewed Melissa Wyllie, Director of Special Education, and Sarah Pegher, Supervisor of Special Education, who were both kind enough to share their experiences using PAETEP.
1. Describe the overall challenges that you face as educators (and how PAETEP helps you overcome them).
Challenge: To effectively evaluate our professional staff considering the significant changes and exceptions from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), with additions, such as the Student Performance Measures (SPM) and a move towards a more collaborative evaluation model.
Solution: PAETEP has brought all the recent changes together into one comprehensive online tool allowing administrators to be more cohesive in their work with professional staff.
As educators, we are data-driven, not only with our students, but in our professional goals. PAETEP supports data-based decisions within the observation process. Features such as student performance measures, performance goal weighting, and the educator effectiveness rating, allow us to guide and substantiate our work with a measurable tool.
As we lead the Special Education Department at MIU IV, we recognize that special education teachers have become more aware of the best practices that will earn distinguished ratings, and strive to meet that standard. Our staff values the continual feedback that they receive from their supervisors in all aspects of their work. PAETEP provides a perfect space to document and engage in conversation about that feedback.
“MIU IV values the long-standing partnership with the Edulink team, because we have found them to consistently stay current and be highly responsive to our specific needs.”
— Melissa Wyllie, Director of Special Education
Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV
2. How has PA-ETEP impacted your workflow and day-to-day operations? How has it saved you time and on which tasks?
Being efficient with time and streamlining tasks is what attracted our organization to PAETEP. The functionality of the tool allows us to save evaluations in draft form, making it easier to complete as time allows. The tool’s automatic notifications each time a user completes a task have been instrumental in eliminating the need for monitoring.
PAETAP helps make our workflow more efficient and streamlined. It is a system that is easy to navigate, saving supervisors and administrators time, and giving us the ability to access past and present documents. Our special education supervisors share evaluation duties for some educators, and the system allows for each supervisor to provide input easily.
3. How has PAETEP improved your evaluation process?
PAETEP is fully aligned with the PDE adopted processes, which ensures fidelity within our documentation. All documentation is housed within PAETEP, allowing our supervisors and educators to have one platform to communicate and reference documents. This web-based tool conveniently eliminates the need for paper documentation and provides easy access to information very quickly.
Due to MIU IV’s unwavering commitment to this tool and using all the functionality to its fullest potential, it has become a part of our daily routine. Our staff is very comfortable with the system and, in fact, our supervisory staff uses the anecdotal notes component to comment on a regular basis regarding staff performance beyond the formal observation process. They appreciate having a place to provide feedback on an ongoing basis.
4. Benefits of PAETEP:
PAETEP facilitates open collaboration and conversation between the supervisor and educator in real time and provides each entry with a date/time stamp. Some examples are requesting a follow-up after a walkthrough, the ability for both the supervisor and educator to add comments within an observation, providing beginning, middle and end-of-the-year updates. Built-in notifications between the supervisor and educator are key to facilitating conversation and growth. A feature that we use often as supervisors is the anecdotal notes feature. This feature has given us the ability to add both positive notes as well as notes of concern or areas for potential growth.
In addition to the improved dialogue with professional employees and administration, our special education supervisors share artifacts and project work with us, as directors. With the PDE and PAETEP’s recent change to include Supervisors of Special Education in the 13-2 evaluation, they now can interact with us in the same manner that teachers interact with their supervisors.
5. Please share why you’ve come to trust the Edulink team and products.
MIU IV values the long-standing partnership with the Edulink team, because we have found them to consistently stay current and be highly responsive to our specific needs.
6. What makes you a repeat customer?
MIU IV is a repeat customer because this product has made the evaluation process efficient for our special education supervisors, interactive and collaborative for our supervisors and staff, as well as a tool that guides our work and continuous growth. PAETEP customer service is always helpful and responsive, educating us on the tool and troubleshooting when necessary.
7. What sets PA-ETEP apart from other tools you have used (pricing, specific features, customer support, other)?
PAETEP is the only electronic portal that MIU IV has ever used. As an organization, we have never had a need to search for a competitor, as they are continually adapting to the changes coming from the state and responding to user feedback. Their customer support performs at a very high level with timely responses. All updates are communicated to users through notifications that appear when the user logs onto the portal. These are accompanied with companion videos that outline the new changes and updates in a systematic manner.