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Legislation Brings Needed Changes to Educator Evaluation Laws

LANSING – Senate Bills 395-396 bring needed changes to Michigan’s time-intensive educator evaluation system and will allow teachers and school administrators to spend more time focused on students, according to the Michigan Department of Education. 

“This legislature has accomplished a great deal this session in terms of much-needed investments in education funding and in addressing flaws in education policy,” saidState Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “Improving educator evaluation laws will be the next major legislative effort to improve public education for students.”

This effort to improve educator evaluation laws is critical for at least two reasons, both associated with time—for children to learn and teachers to teach, Dr. Rice said. 

“First, it is vitally important because we have spent so much time evaluating staff, not to thebenefitof children but rather at theexpenseof time that could and should have been spent educating children,” Dr. Rice said. “Bottom line–we need to pour more time into teaching children.”  

The second reason according to Dr. Rice is that the state legislature will likely not revisit this topic for several years. “What we do on this topic now will affect our children for a decade,” he said. 

The bills before the Senate Education Committee would provide the opportunity for effective teachers to be formally evaluated every three years instead of annually or biennially, but would permit more frequent evaluation if necessary; and provide school administrators time to have a more significant focus on the needs of inexperienced and otherwise struggling staff who require more assistance to become effective teachers of children. 

Dr. Rice said that the committee is making strong progress in improving educator evaluations in Michigan, and that he appreciated the continued work being done in having a measure of student growth or student learning objective included in the educator evaluation process. 

“Although the state summative assessments should never have been part of educator evaluations and should be removed from the evaluation process, we believe strongly that some portion of educator evaluations should be associated with a student growth or student learning objective measure, locally determined between teacher and administrator, based on the teachers’ subjects, grade levels, and individual goals,” Dr. Rice said.

“This is a matter of student growth as well as the professional growth of educators,” he said. “We have to get it right.” 

The Senate Education Committee heard testimony on Senate Bills 395-396 today and is expected to take action on the legislation soon.