Press Release

Ed Trust-Midwest applauds lawmakers for passing teacher tenure, evaluation reforms that will help good teachers stay in classrooms

LANSING, MICH. (June 30, 2011) — Tonight the Michigan legislature made history by reforming antiquated teacher tenure and other laws that have been powerful barriers to ensuring all Michigan students are taught by effective teachers.  The groundbreaking laws also provide a new potential pathway for the development of more consistent and reliable evaluation of educators and improved professional development for our teachers.

“All of our kids deserve the best teachers that our state and nation can provide. We applaud lawmakers for their courage in passing these reforms despite intense pressure from adult-focused special interest groups,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest, a Michigan-based education policy and advocacy organization.

“We need to credit Gov. Rick Snyder and both Republican and Democratic leaders who promised to reform tenure — not eliminate it — and supported these changes that will make it easier to staff schools with high-quality leaders and teachers, especially in our urban schools,” Arellano said.  “That said, there are important questions still left unanswered in this legislation, including how we define student growth and effective teaching in Michigan.  These questions will need to be addressed so that our teachers can be assured consistent evaluations, and so that our parents and students can have confidence in the quality of staff in our schools.”

Among the reforms passed:

• Performance-based Tenure:  Michigan teacher tenure now is partly based on performance and not simply time clocked in a school.  To earn tenure, new Michigan teachers will need to earn at least three consecutive effective or highly effective ratings on annual performance evaluations.

• Dismissing Chronically Low-Performing Teachers:  Teachers or administrators who earn three, consecutive ineffective ratings on their annual performance evaluations will be dismissed.

• More Feedback for New and Struggling Teachers:  Under Ed Trust-Midwest’s tenure reform plan adopted by the legislature, new teachers also will now receive more feedback and professional development during their formative years in the profession.   School districts are required to provide individualized professional development plans for struggling teachers to help them improve, as well.

• Performance-Based Teacher Lay-Off:  Performance now is the majority factor in determining which teachers in Michigan are laid off, in addition to teachers’ special training and accomplishments and in some cases, teachers’ years of experience.

• Educator Performance based on Student Achievement:   In the coming years, Michigan schools will need to focus educators’ attention on student learning — the central mission of public education.  All schools will be required to evaluate teacher and administrator performance based on student growth data using the following percentages:  25 percent for school year 2013-2014; 40 percent for school year 2014-15; and 50 percent for school year 2015-16.

• Developing a Pathway toward Consistent and Fair Educator Evaluation Standards: Presently in Michigan, every school district defines its own student growth measure, meaning parents and students don’t know how their schools and teachers are doing compared to other schools and districts.  This practice can lead to inconsistent and unreliable performance evaluation.  For example, a teacher in one district might receive an ineffective performance rating while a comparable teacher in another district could receive an effective or even highly effective rating.  The present system provides neither parents nor educators any assurance of consistent, honest or reliable information.  The legislation creates a Governor’s Council on Educator Effectiveness to address these and other outstanding issues.

Many of these legislative reforms follow the recommendations of Ed Trust-Midwest.  For more information about our recommendations, go to:

The Education Trust-Midwest is run by and for Michiganders.  Based in Ann Arbor, our mission is to work for the high achievement of all students, particularly low-income and African American, Latino and American Indian children in Michigan.  For more information about Ed Trust-Midwest, go to: