Key evaluation reforms passed by Legislature

Following passage Wednesday night in the State House, the State Senate concurred with changes to Senate Bills 395 and 396 – the amended bills that address key changes to teacher evaluation now head to Gov. Whitmer for her approval.

Under the bills, the following changes will take effect for the 2024-25 school year:

  • Make teacher evaluations subject to collective bargaining.
  • Remove punitive aspects of the evaluation system to focus on professional development.
  • Change from four rating categories to three: “effective,” “developing,” and “needing support” — a change to reduce competition and increase collaboration between teachers.
  • Require an observation be at least 15 minutes (making observations more meaningful) and require written feedback within 30 days of an observation.
  • Provide effective teachers with biennial or triennial evaluations (subject to bargaining).
  • Require feedback concerning an evaluation be provided, in writing, to the teacher being evaluated. If no written evaluation is provided, the teacher shall be deemed effective.
  • Require all evaluators engage in regular training to reduce individual bias.
  • Change the probationary period for a teacher from five to four school years, when they have been rated as effective on 3 consecutive year-end performance evaluations.
  • Change the student growth requirement to 20% of the evaluation rating, remove the requirement that state M-STEP data be included in evaluations, and require decisions about the use of particular growth assessments or student learning objectives be collectively bargained.
  • Provide a mechanism for teachers to challenge a flawed evaluation system, including binding arbitration through the American Arbitration Association after two consecutive needs support ratings.
  • Also in SB 395 is language that extends the testing window (required by the third grade reading law) for kindergarten students from the first 30 days to the first 90 days of the school year.

These changes are the result of years of lobbying and advocacy by MEA members regarding Michigan’s broken teacher evaluation system, and close work with many members of the Legislature, including bill sponsors Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia, a former educator and current chair of the Senate Education Committee), Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City), and Representatives Matt Koleszar (D-Plymouth, a former educator and current chair of the House Education Committee), Nate Shannon (D-Sterling Heights, another former educator) and Amos O’Neal (D-Saginaw), amongst many others.

Stay tuned for more from MEA on these significant improvements to teacher evaluation – and this major victory for educator voice in our profession.

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