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New teacher evaluation system proposed to Michigan Legislature

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The Michigan Council for Education Effectiveness is proposing a new way to evaluate teachers and administrators.  The council presented its recommendations to the state legislature, the governor and the state Board of Education on Wednesday.

Michigan currently has statewide standards for teachers, but there is not an evaluation system in place. Current evaluations are conducted differently in each district. This new system would require teachers to be evaluated every year and receive one of three ratings: "ineffective," "provisional" or "professional." The evaluation is based on the teacher's classroom practice and their students' performance.

Deborah Ball is the Dean of the University of Michigan School of Education and a chairwoman of the council. She says this proposed system of evaluation is intended to help teachers improve and isn't meant to be punitive.

"The evaluation system for both teachers and administrators includes direct feedback about the way they carry out their work -- the way they teach, the way they lead -- and looking at the results of their work, that is, how their students grow across the school year," she said.

Joseph Martineauis the Deputy Superintendent of Accountability Services at the Michigan Department of Education. He says the new evaluation standard is focused more distinctly on student performance than current evaluation standards.

"This would bring more specificity to what is required," he said. "Right now there's a lot more flexibility in local development of the education evaluation systems."

He says a statewide evaluation system would streamline teacher evaluations and make them more consistent. He says while the statewide system would still allow local districts to determine how to measure student performance, the proposed system does not tie teacher performance to pay, which is a controversial system implemented by other states.

Ball says the bottom line is helping students grow. She hopes the proposed evaluation system will do just that.

"We sought to develop a system for evaluating educators that was focused on the improvement of practice in schools," she said. "The entire point reminds all of us that it's about improving kids' opportunities to learn and their learning, and supporting the educators who do that work."

The evaluation system awaits approval by the Michigan Legislature. The proposal can be viewed here.

-Sarah Kerson, Michigan Radio Newsroom