Valuable and meaningful professional feedback is one of the cornerstones of growth as a person and as a professional. In healthy workplaces, there are clear and common standards of performance. Employees are regularly evaluated against these standards and provided with timely feedback to help them improve. Not only are employees helped by this information, but so, too, are societies that use it to improve whole professions, such as doctors, scientists and professionals.

Michigan educators, parents and policymakers are being cheated out of this sort of feedback. Not only is this a disservice to thousands of individual teachers who are denied the opportunity to improve their practice, but it also hurts thousands of students in our state. A teacher’s effectiveness has more impact on student learning than any other factor controlled by school systems, including class size, school size and the quality of after-school programs – or even which school a student is attending.

Today, there are new methods to understand how well educators are teaching their students, and what areas they need help on to grow. But in Michigan, current law and policies are unclear and unhelpful to school districts.  Without greater state leadership and guidance, school districts are likely to perpetuate a useless patchwork of systems, some good, some not so good. Teachers, parents, and policymakers also will be left with no assurance that evaluation results are trustworthy or comparable.  They won’t know, for example, if their school district’s teacher quality and classroom learning quality are better than other districts.  Parents and students deserve honest, reliable and comparative information about how well their schools and teachers are educating their children.


Published: June 24, 2011