Legislative preview: Lansing tackles teaching, roads and inmates

By cori

Teachers, drivers, third-graders and nonviolent offenders are all likely to get a lot of attention in Lansing in coming months, as the Michigan Legislature returns from summer vacation to tackle issues that could have major impact on many Michigan residents.

Here are some of the top issues legislators are expected to grapple with this fall:

TEACHER EVALUATION

Senate Bill 103 is the current incarnation of efforts to put into law a more comprehensive state policy on teacher evaluation.

The issue
Michigan’s 2011 teacher tenure reform gave school districts more flexibility to pick and choose which teachers to lay off, based on evaluations. But the state hasn’t yet told districts what those evaluations should look like – such as what tests should be used to measure student growth, and what other factors can be used. That’s a problem because school districts have no consistent, reliable system to determine which teachers are doing well and which are failing their students and need help to get better.

Who the bill impacts
About 100,000 state teachers and administrators, whose jobs and raises depend on their evaluations. But its most important impact is on every public k-12 student in Michigan, because teachers have the biggest influence on student learning of all factors inside school walls (though outside factors such as income can have an even bigger impact).

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