LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness – a state-appointed panel of education experts – is suggesting the state impose a more performance-based teacher evaluation system on Michigan schools after years of research and a pilot study on the issue.
The panel this week made a series of key recommendations to improve teacher effectiveness based on a two-year, $6 million study and pilot program for teacher evaluations conducted in 13 Michigan schools last year, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Among the proposed changes, which the group is submitting to lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder, is the recommendation to base half of Michigan teachers’ evaluations on classroom practices and the other half on student growth on standardized tests.
“The recommendations are tied to changes to the state’s teacher tenure law, which now stipulates, among other changes, that districts cannot lay off teachers based on seniority but can dismiss ineffective educators” after three years of consecutive bad reviews, according to the Free Press.
The council, however, suggests dismissing ineffective educators after two years. Individual school officials would be charged with developing other measures to evaluate teachers who instruct students in subjects not covered by state tests, the newspaper reports.
The Michigan Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, has opposed many of the suggested changes in the past, and had little to say about the council’s proposal.
“We want a workable teacher evaluation system that increases teacher effectiveness and supports ongoing professional development,” union spokeswoman Nancy Knight told the Free Press.
The council also suggested that school administrators be evaluated using student growth and other factors that should include proficiency in evaluating teachers, progress on their school improvement plans, attendance rates, and student, parent and teacher feedback.
“The system, at its core, should raise the performance of all educators because this is what our students need and deserve,” Deborah Loewenberg Ball, council chair and dean of the University of Michigan’s education program, told the Free Press.
“We don’t think there’s lots of people out there under-performing.”
While Ball may think that, there’s no current way to prove it, because administrators in many schools have long been in the habit of rubber-stamping teacher evaluations. A survey last year found that in 30 of Michigan’s largest districts, nearly all teachers were rated effective, despite dismal academic performance in many schools.
Another survey found 69 percent of Michiganders believe teachers need to be held more accountable, the Free Press reports.
The proposed changes would be a great start, but we believe the council could have gone farther with recommendations to tie the evaluations to teacher compensation and make the teachers ratings public, both of which the group advised against.
Lawmakers could take up the teacher evaluation issue in the coming weeks, state Sen. Phil Pavlov, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, told the newspaper.
By Victor Skinner at EAGnews.org
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