Traverse City Record-Eagle


May 15, 2014

State Senate votes to delay teacher evaluation standards

LANSING (AP) — The Michigan Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to delay implementation of statewide standards for evaluating teachers and school administrators until the 2015-16 academic year, two years later than initially planned.

The standards were supposed to be in effect this school year under a 2011 Republican-backed law that revised teacher tenure rules. But lawmakers are still working on putting the system in place after receiving recommendations last year.

Outstanding issues include how much evaluations should be tied to students’ standardized test scores and an escalating dispute between legislators and the state Education Department over which test to administer to students starting next school year.

The agency is planning to administer new Smarter Balanced tests aligned with new uniform national education standards known as Common Core. But lawmakers have given preliminary approval to budget bills that would instead order the state to revise the existing Michigan Education Assessment Program exams for English and math for the next two years.

Sen. John Pappageorge, sponsor of the bill that was sent to the House, said the 2011 law requires year-end evaluations to be based in part on student growth and assessment data.

“All this bill does is give us time to pick an assessment test,” said Pappageorge, R-Troy.

Current law requires teachers’ and administrators’ year-end evaluations to be based at least 25 percent on student growth and testing data this school year, 40 percent in 2014-15 and 50 percent starting in 2015-16.

The Senate bill would base 25 percent of a teacher or administrator’s evaluation on student test scores in 2015-16 and 2016-17, increasing it to 40 percent in 2017-18 and beyond.

Bills set for House approval as early as Thursday are designed to implement the new teacher evaluation system. In addition to being graded on student test scores, teachers also would be evaluated on classroom evaluations by school leaders.

Costs to school districts could total between $16 million and $42 million, according to the nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency.

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