LANSING, Mich. (WZMQ) – Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed two laws to amend the teacher and administrator evaluation systems in public schools. In June, Senator Dayna Polehanki introduced the legislation signed this week by the Governor with the goal of reducing red tape and bureaucracy in schools.
Senator Polehanki was a teacher for almost 20 years before stepping into public office. She said she saw firsthand that Michigan schools needed an overhaul and re-thinking of the teacher evaluation system that had been put in place during Governor Snyder’s administration.
Over 10 months, Senator Polehanki said she worked with other legislators, and stakeholders to figure out what was going to be best for teachers, schools, kids, and parents. The new laws address four main concepts, the first of which changes the frequency of teacher evaluations. Starting July 1st, 2024, teacher ratings will expand from ‘highly effective, effective, minimally effective, and ineffective’ to include the ratings of ‘effective, developing, and needing support’.
Educators who maintain an effective rating for three years will shift to facing evaluations only every third year. Senator Polehanki said this will free up time for principals who would be best served spending their time with new and emerging teachers.
The second part of the law requires student growth to make up 20% of teacher evaluations, but administrators will now manage their own criteria for the way student growth is determined based on district-adopted evaluation tools, objective criteria, and student performance and assessment data.
The third part of the legislation will give teachers due process when it comes to evaluations or when facing disciplinary actions. Senator Polehanki said this will make sure teachers can address their own reviews if they feel they were reviewed unfairly.
Lastly, the law changes the criteria under which teachers are evaluated, moving from four to three categories that Senator Polehanki said are meaningful and well thought out to determine an educator’s success in a classroom.
“It’s important because these categories affect things like tenure, promotion, retention, layoff, recall, and dismissal.” Senator Polehanki said. “So, it’s very important that we get those categories right.”
Schools could experience costs to update teacher and school administrator evaluations and to include collective bargaining agreements as part of that process. Allowing more teachers that show multiple years of effective ratings to be evaluated less often could reduce the annual cost of conducting evaluations. Similarly, allowing some exemption for teachers’ evaluations also would result in savings. The difference in schools, teachers, and collective bargaining makes an overall fiscal impact indeterminate.https://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2023-2024/billanalysis/Senate/pdf/2023-SFA-0395-C.pdf
Governor Whitmer said bills take important steps to further cut unnecessary red tape and reduce government bureaucracy in schools to ensure that educators can spend more time teaching students the fundamentals they need to succeed.
The changes to the review system are expected to take place in July, in time for the 2024-2025 school year.