Panel recommends Mich. teacher evaluation system

An independent panel of educators is recommending a new statewide evaluation system for Michigan public school teachers and administrators that would include announced and unannounced classroom observations.
AP Wire
Jul 24, 2013

The recommendations were submitted to Gov. Rick Snyder, state legislators and state education officials on Wednesday, according to the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness.

Legislative hearings could begin this summer or fall, and schools would be required to have the evaluation system in place by the start of the 2015 academic year.

Teachers would be evaluated on their teaching practices and student academic growth based on standardized tests. School administrators, including district superintendents, principals and assistant principals, would be evaluated on their ability to evaluate teachers, progress they make on school improvement plans, attendance rates and other areas.

The evaluations would give three rating levels: "professional," ''provisional" or "ineffective." Ineffective ratings for two consecutive years could result in dismissal.

Teachers would get better and consistent feedback about their classroom work under the system, according to the council.

"Every child in Michigan deserves skillful teachers, not just some of the time but each and every year," said Deborah Loewenberg Ball, the council's chairwoman. "And every teacher deserves the opportunity to develop and continue to refine his or her professional skill — to receive targeted feedback and professional learning opportunities to improve instruction. We believe a fair, transparent and rigorous teacher evaluation system can help transform the culture of the teaching profession and benefit the state's 1.5 million schoolchildren."

One of the goals is to identify weak or underperforming educators and to give them a chance to improve their skills, Ball added.

The council's recommendations are "oriented to student learning and instructional improvement, not building a system that is punitive," she said.

Unlike states such as Colorado and Indiana, Michigan would not tie teacher compensation to evaluations under the recommendations. Ball said there is insufficient evidence to support pay-for-performance programs at this time.

Earlier this year, a Michigan House committee considered a Republican-sponsored bill that would make teacher job performance the primary factor in determining pay.

The council was created in 2011 and the evaluation system is part of changes to the teacher tenure system passed by the Legislature.

Parts of the new tenure law were opposed by teachers unions at the time.

The Michigan Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, said Wednesday it was reviewing the report.

"The MEA supports a workable evaluation system that increases teacher effectiveness and which is supported by ongoing professional learning. The evaluation process needs to incorporate multiple measures when evaluating teacher effectiveness and it must incorporate valid observations of professional practice," the union said in a statement.

David Hecker, president of the American Federation of Teachers-Michigan, said the council came up with "thoughtful" recommendations.

"The council's recommendations leave room for important decisions about evaluation to be made at the district level. It is essential that teachers participate in making these decisions," he said.

More than 800 teacher evaluation systems currently are in place at the state's roughly 850 school districts and charter schools.

 

Comments

ghtbuc

"Every child in Michigan deserves skillful teachers, not just some of the time but each and every year," said Deborah Loewenberg Ball, the council's chairwoman. - Very true, but they also deserve skillful parents who care about their academic success. Too many students go home to empty houses and/or abusive or neglectful parents. Let's work to fix that and see what kind of impact it has on their studies.

Mystic Michael

In principle, these kinds of things always sound like a great idea: High standards, effective oversight, in-service training & support, and discipline. And I genuinely hope that this program - or whatever final version of it might ultimately emerge - will be highly successful, if/when it's ever implemented.

In practice, however, they too often become highly politicized - and punitive; a convenient platform from which to settle old scores - and provoke new confrontations. The MEA is right to be skeptical - or at least careful.

I have zero problem with the concept that professional educators - in ALL roles - should be required to perform consistently at the tops of their games. But its success or failure - and the fairness or lack thereof - is all in the details. And in the implementation.

Let there also be effective safeguards against abuse of the system - including a reasonable appeals process for teachers with grievances, with some actual teeth in it.

MM

Vladtheimp

I agree, as long as the reasonable appeals process does not mean having to retain ineffective teachers for an undue period of time. In that regard, it appears to me that this evaluation system should have its own appeals process legislated to be outside of the realm of collective bargaining.

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