Mich. Senate approves new teacher evaluation standards
Lansing — New state standards for evaluating teachers and school administrators would take effect in the 2017-18 academic year — four years later than planned — under legislation approved Wednesday.
The Republican-led Senate voted 22-15 largely along party lines for the follow-up bill to a 2011 law that overhauled teacher tenure rules.
Starting in the 2017-18 school year, annual evaluations would have to be based in part on students’ standardized test scores, including how students progress over the year. The bill sent to the House would initially base 25 percent of an evaluation on student growth and testing data, rising to 40 percent in 2018-19 and beyond.
The remainder of the evaluation would be based on a local school district’s own evaluation tool, which must have at least two classroom observations of teachers not rated as effective or highly effective on their two most recent year-end evaluations.
The 2011 law, which deferred legislative decisions on establishing a statewide evaluation system that was supposed have begun in the 2013-14 academic year, had called for half of a teacher’s evaluation to be based on student growth and assessments.
Under current law, teachers rated as ineffective for three straight years must be fired. About 2.3 percent of teachers were rated minimally effective and 0.5 percent rated ineffective in 2013-14, according to the state Education Department.
“It really takes the regulation out of evaluation and lets it work naturally at the district level,” legislation sponsor and Senate Appropriations Chairman Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, said. “We have confidence in our leaders at the local level. Less Lansing is better when it comes to evaluations.”
Five Republicans broke ranks and joined all 10 Democrats in attendance to oppose the bill, which will next be considered by the GOP-controlled House. Detractors raised concerns that the measure ignores compromise recommendations from the Governor’s Council on Educator Effectiveness, which was tasked under the 2011 law with proposing a teacher-growth measurement and evaluation tools.
“I agree that many of our local districts are doing an admirable job. However, the fact remains that the council … was instituted to address a critical and identified problem within the evaluation process across the state and that is that there is absolutely no continuity with which teachers and administrators are evaluated,” said Sen. David Knezek, a Dearborn Heights Democrat.
He said the legislation would be too “punitive,” wouldn’t do enough to train teachers nor ensure that new state assessments measure the needed data.
“Is the goal to set up a fair ... system to evaluate teachers, or is the goal to simply punish a group of professionals that has become all too frequent an easy target?” Knezek said.
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