Some long-awaited proposed changes to the state’s educator evaluation system have been introduced in the Michigan Legislature. Now action is needed to push lawmakers to move the bills.
One pressing issue for educators – the percentage of student growth included in teacher evaluations – has two GOP-sponsored measures awaiting action. That student growth requirement is set to increase from 25 to 40% this spring (after being delayed by legislative action two years ago and the pandemic last spring).
House Bill 4032 would permanently return the percentage of an educator’s evaluation that is tied to student growth measures to 25%. However, Senate Bill 56 would eliminate the student growth portion of teacher evaluations altogether going forward.
“It isn’t fair to the teachers or the students in the end,” the bill’s sponsor – Sen. Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth) – told Bridge magazine in an article that appeared this week.
Latest on Standardized Testing Requirements
Many states across the political spectrum are backing away from stringent requirements for documenting student growth as part of teachers’ scores in formal evaluations—scores which play an increasing role in teacher layoffs and recalls.
Experts say standardized tests were never designed to be tools for educator evaluations, and results do not accurately reflect a teacher’s classroom performance. In addition, the high stakes intensify pressures to teach to the test – discouraging deeper learning and critical thinking.
This school year in particular, the pandemic has disrupted teaching and learning to such an extent that many advocates – including MEA – have argued for skipping statewide standardized testing this spring to focus valuable time and attention on students’ learning and wellness.
However, on Monday the U.S. Department of Education announced it would not issue a blanket waiver for all states to be allowed to forego statewide assessments this year as was done last spring at the start of the pandemic.
Guidance issued by the department offered flexibility on testing length and location, and it allows test scores to be disconnected from teacher evaluations and student promotion – including requirements for third graders to be retained for scoring below a certain mark.
The Michigan Department of Education announced on Wednesday it was “initiating discussions with USED to allow Michigan to waive the federal requirement for statewide summative assessments this school year.”
State Superintendent Michael Rice said districts have continued to administer mandated benchmark assessments this year which can be used by parents and educators to “target resources, interventions and supports for kids.”
“With a majority of our kids at home, with the challenges of getting kids back in school, and with the need for more instructional time to maximize academic and social and emotional focus and growth, this is not the time to engage in state summative assessments,” Rice said.