Supporting quality feedback for educators

Last week, state lawmakers in the House and Senate considered important questions about how Michigan provides feedback to educators and supports ongoing improvement. The House Education Committee held an oversight hearing into the current educator evaluation law, passed in 2015. The Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee also held a hearing on proposed changes to this law, which if passed, would reduce the use of data in educator evaluations.

Ultimately, the Senate committee passed a change to the current evaluation law for this year only. If this bill passes the full Senate and House, the legislation would change how educator evaluations are done for the current school year only. Perhaps most concerning, it could also fuel continued policy churn next year by adding uncertainty into the current system.

As Michigan policymakers review our educator evaluation and support laws, the Education Trust-Midwest will continue to support policies that are rooted in data and focus on improvement. This support and policy stability can help Michigan educators always improve and support the needs of Michigan students.

In 2015, Michigan passed bipartisan legislation that focused on providing better feedback to teachers and administrators. With broad support from the education community, the law rightly focused on providing information to educators intended to help drive constant improvement.

A wide body of research shows that the single greatest in-school factor for improving student learning is the quality of classroom instruction. Doing all that we can to provide support and feedback to educators makes sense for helping teachers to teach and students to learn.

Under this policy, teacher evaluations are based mostly on classroom observations (60 percent of an evaluation), along with locally-measured information on student improvement (up to 20 percent of an evaluation) and information on student improvement that is comparable across the state (20 percent of an evaluation).

Similar policies have been key to the success of leading education states. Tennessee – among the fastest improving states for student learning – has used thoughtful evaluations as a key piece of supporting educators. In fact, a 2018 survey of teachers in Tennessee found that nearly three-quarters of educators credited their evaluation system with leading to improvements in their teaching.

Capital Update

The Michigan legislature is on recess this week and next. The House and Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, April 9.

Tweet of the Week

@EdTrustMidwest: What we're reading - by @jchambers_DN @detroitnews: Michigan's history of assessment churn continues as #miched moves to 3 years of SAT prep tests. Students & teachers deserve consistency, not chronic change.