Monday, April 30, 2012

The State's Teacher Evaluation Plans

A few months ago, the state legislature decreed that there should be a statewide teacher evaluation system. They asked Deborah Ball, Dean of the UM School of Education, to head a committee with a proposal for how to evaluate teachers.

And now the committee has come up with a proposal. According to the April 27th, 2012 Detroit Free Press,
A council tasked with developing an evaluation system for Michigan educators is recommending the state start with a pilot program that will be tested in 12 school districts during the 2012-13 school year.
The Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness issued an interim report late today, with a recommendation the state spend $6 million for the pilot.
Some Republican lawmakers had hoped to have a full system in place statewide within the next year.
But the council has concluded a pilot is imperative, saying rushing to develop a system "would be reckless, both fiscally and technically."
Reading this, I had much more confidence in the committee. Yes, a pilot. In fact, several pilots. They would test different models for using student assessments to assess teachers, and different models for teacher observation.

It sounds pretty good to me. It appears that the committee, at least, is really interested in improving teaching.

I'll bet that much of the legislature won't like it. Why do a pilot and test your ideas when you could jump both feet first into an unproven plan? And if I'm right, that they don't like it? That will just prove that they're not interested in teacher evaluation or in improving teaching. That will prove they're just interested in union busting.


  1. I agree, this report is encouraging.

    Please see the link shown below to learn more about the future of testing (which goes hand in hand with evaluations) in Michigan:

    I can't find any mention of this on,, or the Free Press; considering the significance of such a shift; you'd think there would be more coverage.


  2. Early reaction to the pilot proposal from the Legislature:


  3. Well, the positive noises from the legislative leadership is heartwarming, but it still doesn't address the fact that the evaluation law passed last summer requires that a minimum of 50% of a teacher's evaluation must be based on "objective measures of student growth" (i.e. test scores) computed as a value added measure. Other measures, such as observations and so on, are also technically required but there is no minimum percentage.

    In other words, Dean Ball's report pushes directly in the opposite direction from the intent already enshrined in law (test scores trump evaluation of technique). I don't see the legislature backing down on that centerpiece of modern education "reform."

    Seeing as how the legislature has shown no willingness to add resources to K-12 for this or other purposes, this means we'll have to shoehorn whatever evaluation system emerges into existing budgets. I don't hold out a lot of hope for having it "done right" under those circumstances.

  4. DSwan, thanks for sharing those links! The MLive link also has a link to the actual report if anyone wants to read it.

    Steve, I agree with you 100%. When the job was assigned to the committee, I thought the committee might just go along with the legislature. I'm glad they haven't. I'm pleased that they didn't, and that they are really trying to think thoughtfully about how to support teachers and improve teachers' work.