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Education chief unveils teacher evaluation system ahead of possible state House vote

Oct 13, 2015

Lawmakers and the state Department of Education are both weighing in on teacher evaluations.
Credit Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Michigan education officials are moving ahead with plans to improve teacher evaluations statewide.

That’s as the state House nears a possible vote this week to overhaul the way districts assess teachers and administrators.

State Superintendent Brian Whiston says his department can’t wait around while lawmakers debate the bill.

“We want to provide the guidance now because teachers are setting their goals now and will be held to evaluation between now and the end of the school year,” said Whiston.

“So we need to act very quickly if we want to impact this current school year.”

One big question is what percentage of the assessments will be based on student performance on state standardized tests. Senate Bill 103 currently calls for 40 percent of the evaluations to be based on student growth – which could largely be measured by the state assessment.

But Whiston says local tests should also be considered. He says the Michigan Department of Education will help schools develop testing schemes that take both into account.

“Some tests aren’t designed to be used for evaluation purposes,” he said. “So that’s why we want to marry local assessments and the state assessment and say here’s how using both assessments you can come up with a number that makes sense.”

The department will use $12 million it has available in this year’s budget to encourage districts to implement one of four teacher evaluation systems developed by a state commission.