Teacher Evaluation Debate Strikes Up Again In Senate Panel

By cori

Retrieved from www.MIRSnews.com

A long discussion on the prospect of codifying the evaluation process for teachers and administrators cranked up again in the Senate today as education officials debated the merits of Sen. Phil PAVLOV's (R-St. Clair) latest offering on the matter.

Pavlov's Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0103 retains several key aspects of the legislation brought forward by then-Rep. and current Sen. Margaret [O'BRIEN] (R-Portage) and Rep. Adam ZEMKE (D-Ann Arbor), but delays the implementation of teacher evaluation requirements until the 2017-2018 school year. It was brought up for discussion the first time this session in the Senate Education Committee today.

The bill would require 25 percent of a teacher evaluation be based on student growth in 2017-18, and would up that requirement to 45 percent in the 2018-19 school year.

It also swaps all references to state-approved teacher evaluation models recommended by the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness featured in the House-passed legislation for a set of criteria that potential vendors must meet to be eligible for use in schools (See "Teacher Evaluation Concept Returns Sans State-Approved Models," 2/18/15)

In addition, the bill cuts the $14.8 million reserve fund previously set aside in the state budget for the implementation of such a program.

The bill's strengths lie in its commitment to local control, collaboration between supervisors and those under evaluation and its setup of a system of accountability, said Paul SALAH, associate superintendent of educational services for Wayne Regional Educational Service Agency.

However, Salah said available research is unclear as to how well standardized assessments and state-level data contributes to determining student growth -- he recommended not weighing the student growth percentage by any more than 25 percent.

"I believe that student growth can and should be used as a factor when evaluating educator performance, but we must be thoughtful in our processes," he said in testimony. "If a state assessment must be used, clear, fair and realistic metrics should be defined."

During testimony, the bill saw support from the superintendents of two generally high performing districts - Dennis MCDAVID of Berkley School District and Kenneth GUTMAN of Walled Lake Consolidated Schools.

They, too, said they appreciated the additional local control the bill would give administrators, but noted tests aren't everything when it comes to assessing how well a student has been taught.

"It's really tough to say a test or two tests can determine a teacher's value," McDavid said.

But the bill does little to address the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals' (MASSP) primary concern with the legislation -- that it sets few minimum standards for administrators to follow to as a baseline, said Bob KEFGEN, the association's associate director of governmental relations.

Also concerning to the MASSP is the removal of funding for the evaluation program and the lack of training or support for administrators to ensure adherence to the state-approved process. Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0103 "falls far short of finishing the job" of codifying a useful teacher evaluation system, Kefgen said.

Testimony was cut short due to the start of Senate session, but Pavlov assured the audience the conversation would soon continue.