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Michigan Legislature OKs delay in teacher evaluation change

Posted at 4:05 PM, Apr 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-30 16:05:53-04

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan would delay a key change in its evaluation system for teachers and schools administrators under measures lawmakers sent Tuesday to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is expected to sign it.

The bills cleared a final procedural step after previously winning overwhelmingly bipartisan support in the Republican-led Legislature.

They would halt, at least for a year, a requirement that student growth and assessment data be given greater weight in educators’ year-end performance evaluations.

Such information now accounts for 25% of an evaluation but is scheduled to rise to 40% this academic year under a 2015 law.

Under the measures , the change would be delayed until the 2019-20 school year.

The legislation is supported by teachers unions, school districts and groups representing administrators.

Legislators said Michigan’s main standardized test, the M-STEP, does not adequately measure students’ learning over time.

“The feedback is not coming back quickly. So when teachers don’t have those tools to look at their feedback to see how they can improve — we’re not getting this feedback for months — then it’s really not helping us out,” said Rep. Darrin Camilleri, a former high school social studies teacher.

The Democrat from Wayne County’s Brownstown Township said he hopes there is a “broader conversation” about the evaluation system and state testing, not just a one-year delay.

Under the evaluation law, the remainder of an educator’s annual review centers primarily on their performance as measured by a scoring tool chosen from a state list or developed locally, including a classroom observation component.

At least two classroom observations must be conducted of teachers not rated as effective or highly effective on their two most recent evaluations.

A district or charter cannot assign a student to be taught in the same subject area for two consecutive years by a teacher rated as ineffective on his or her two previous annual evaluations.

Teachers rated as ineffective for three straight years must be fired.

The Michigan Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, applauded lawmakers for delaying the “drastic” increase in the weight that test scores have on evaluations.

“Based on feedback about evaluations from front-line educators, this delay only keeps a big problem from getting worse,” said president Paula Herbart.

“We look forward to working with the governor and legislators from both parties to fix this system so it helps deliver the highest quality education for every student.”

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