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Guest column: Teacher evaluation measures would make Michigan a national leader

Publication date: Dec 3, 2014

By Amber Arellano, Steve Cook, Kathy Hayes, William Mayes, Tim Melton, William Miller, and Wendy Zdeb-Roper

Few issues in education have brought more Michigan leaders together recently than the need to better support our teachers and school principals. Our leaders have come together to invest in and support the state’s first statewide educator evaluator and support system.

This signals a turning point in Michigan. For many years, we haven’t invested in and developed new systems to better train and support teachers, from the moment they enter a teacher preparation program, to their first years in the profession and beyond. And we’ve done even less for school administrators.

We have the opportunity to change that now – for the better.

It makes good sense. Research shows having a highly effective teacher in the classroom is the most important in-school factor for student success.

In the coming weeks, Michigan has the chance to provide a similar opportunity for our administrators, teachers and students. A bipartisan effort – supported by Michigan’s largest teachers’ union plus administrators and education reform organizations – is underway.

The two bills – House bills 5223 and 5224 sponsored by Republican Representative Margaret O’Brien (Portage) and Democratic Representative Adam Zemke (Ann Arbor) – will help to ensure that every Michigan child has access to a high-quality education. Now we need the legislature to support their hard work and pass these bills by December 31st.

As currently written, these bills will make Michigan a national leader in educator evaluations by ensuring that the evaluation tools that schools are using are research-based. The bills would provide important training so that the system is fair and reliable, while also making certain every educator receives the feedback they need to improve their performance.

By focusing on improvement, the proposed system also puts Michigan on course to become a stronger education state by setting a clear target for what is considered to be “effective teaching” and supporting districts in hitting that target.

It is rare for an issue to bring together Democrats and Republicans, teachers and principals, school boards and education reform organizations. The fact that this work has united Michigan leaders is a sign that this is the right thing to do for our state, our educators and our children.

We have an opportunity to give educators the tools that they need to grow professionally and the chance to help our students improve. Let’s take it.

Amber Arellano is the executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest

Steve Cook is the president of the Michigan Education Association

Kathy Hayes is the executive director of the Michigan Association of School Boards

William Mayes is the executive director of the Michigan Association of School Administrators

Tim Melton is the vice president of state affairs of StudentsFirst

William Miller is the executive director of the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators

Wendy Zdeb-Roper is the executive director of the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals

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