State panel issues long-awaited report with teacher evaluation recommendations

The Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness this week released its long-awaited recommendations to create what it calls a “fair, transparent and feasible” system for evaluating teachers and school administrators.

If implemented by the state Legislature, the MCEE’s system would replace the more than 800 different evaluation systems employed in districts across Michigan.

Established by the Legislature in June 2011, the MCEE claims to base its system on “rigorous standards of professional practice and of measurement,” with the overall goal of enhancing instruction, improving student achievement and supporting ongoing professional development.

MEA issued the following public statement in response to the report’s release: “The MEA is currently reviewing the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness report. We will be giving it thoughtful examination and thorough study before the MEA is prepared to respond to it. The MEA supports a workable evaluation system that increases teacher effectiveness and which is supported by ongoing professional learning. The evaluation process needs to incorporate multiple measures when evaluating teacher effectiveness and it must include valid observations of professional practice. Enhancing instruction and improving student achievement is the goal of every educator.”

The MCEE’s report identifies and recommends a tool to evaluate teachers; a tool to evaluate school administrators; new requirements for professional teaching certificates; and a waiver process for local educational agencies.

Evaluations

The MCEE recommends that teachers be evaluated and classified into one of three categories: “professional,” “provisional” and “ineffective.” These three categories would replace the state’s current categories of “highly effective,” “effective,” “minimally effective,” and “ineffective.” Evaluations would be based half on observations of their practice, and half on student growth. As it stands, new teachers receive their initial certification at the provisional level for five years, and may renew their provisional license for up to three additional five-year periods. The MCEE recommends tying teacher certification to its proposed performance categories.

Like teachers, administrators would be evaluated based on their practice and student growth. In addition, they would be evaluated based on the “proficiency of their skill in evaluating teachers; progress made in the school improvement plan; attendance rates; and student, parent, and teacher feedback.” Administrators would be classified in the same three categories as teachers, and subjected to the same rewards and sanctions.

Certification

Currently, new teachers receive their initial certification at the provisional level for five years, and may renew their provisional license for up to three additional five-year periods. The MCEE recommends tying teacher certification to its proposed performance categories. Under the MCEE’s proposal, teachers wishing to move from a provisional license to a professional one must achieve three consecutive “professional” ratings under the new evaluation system. Alternately, teachers may receive a professional teaching certificate if they’ve achieved three “professional” ratings in non-consecutive years, provided they receive a recommendation from their current principal.

Local flexibility

The MCEE’s recommendations allow some flexibility for school districts that have developed their own evaluation systems. Under the MCEE’s proposal, districts could receive a waiver provided they can demonstrate that their evaluation system has “the same level of quality and rigor” as the state-approved system.