From the Executive Director: Wanting the Most for Our Kids









This month has been a festive one at my house. My daughter Solana turned three, and we hosted her first big birthday party — complete with a piñata, lots of family and friends, and dancing to kids’ music. We had a ball.

As much fun as the party was, afterward my mind quickly turned to what I think about a lot these days: where to send our daughter to school. Like parents across Michigan, my husband and I want the best public education available for our child — and we know her early years in pre-K and elementary school will lay the foundation for her learning for a lifetime.

Indeed, how well a child is reading in third grade is not only a predictor of K-12 academic success but for life. Children who are learning at high levels by third grade are much more likely to go on to college, participate in the job market and do well on a host of other life well-being indicators. On the other hand, children who are not reading by grade level in third grade are more likely to become young mothers, exhibit aggressive behavior, and struggle in school and the job market for years to come.

This month, The Education Trust-Midwest is launching a new initiative called Michigan Achieves. With partners across the state, we’ll be working to make Michigan a top-ten education state — starting with what we know matters so much for our kids: third-grade literacy.

As an advocate and as a mom, I hope you’ll join this conversation. Already Crain’s Detroit Business and The Detroit News have announced their support for Michigan Achieves. You can get involved at

Today Michigan is on track to be among America’s lowest performing education states for student learning, as our new report shows. But we can change that. Other states have turned around their educational performance. We can, too.

Thank you to all of the school leaders, educators and parents who strive daily to prepare all Michigan students to succeed in school and in life. Michigan Achieves is a clarion call for all Michiganders to join them in strengthening our public schools.

We hope you’ll join us.

 Much work still needed on educator evaluation

Study after study has shown that teaching quality is the most significant in-school factor for student learning. This is why high-quality feedback and support for educators is so critical.

On Wednesday, the Michigan Senate passed Senate Bill 103 (Pavlov), which relates to educator evaluations. While a conversation on how to provide high-quality, research-based evaluations and support to Michigan’s teachers and principals is long overdue, several key pieces are still missing from this bill. As the bill now moves to the state House of Representatives, we urge legislators to make meaningful improvements to this bill.

To ensure that districts use a high-quality evaluation tool, we need clear criteria for what these evaluation systems must include. We also need to ensure that evaluators are well trained and can provide quality feedback that helps drive professional growth. Finally, to make sure that evaluation systems are comparable between districts, when student test scores are considered, we should weigh the state test at least as much as district-level tests.

When Michigan invests in proven methods to improve teaching quality – like a research-based system of educator evaluations and support – we are investing in our students and our future.

Sneak Peak: Making all tests work

Next week, a Michigan educator writes on the importance of assessment and avoiding over-testing. Check out our blog on Monday, June 1st.

From the Capital

Last week, the State Senate passed Senate Bill 103 (Pavlov), which relates to educator evaluations. See above for our suggestions on how the Michigan House of Representatives can improve this legislation as they consider the issue, likely next month.

UPCOMING COMMITTEE MEETINGS Conference Committee on Education, Today, May 26, at 9am in Room 424 of the Capital Building. The conference committee will consider appropriations for the department of education for fiscal year 2015-2016.

Click here to view the full update.