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State Lawmakers Approve Teacher Evaluation Overhaul

Kevin Lavery, WKAR

(MPRN-Lansing) State lawmakers have sent a bill to set basic standards for teacher evaluations to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk. 

Senate Bill 103 won overwhelming bipartisan support in the state Senate on Tuesday. That’s less than a week after it sailed out of the House.

Most Democrats, many who opposed earlier versions of the legislation, applauded changes made in the House that reduce the emphasis the evaluations would put on state standardized tests.

“This bill, as amended, will help us hold our educators accountable and ensure that our students are receiving a quality education in the state of Michigan,”

said state Sen. David Knezek (D-Dearborn).

“It allows for more local decision making. And – more importantly – this bill requires training for both educators and observers to ensure they fully understand how this evaluation tool works.”

But some still aren’t satisfied.

“I don’t think this really did anything involving dealing with the real academic issues within the state of Michigan,”

said state Sen. Coleman Young II (D-Detroit), one of only two Senators to vote against the legislation.

The bill is a follow-up to recent changes to teacher tenure in Michigan. That law says teachers could be fired if they’re rated “ineffective” three years in a row. The legislation reduces the percentage of the evaluations that must be based on student performance on standardized tests from 50 percent to 40 percent.

That percentage would be phased in between next school year and the 2018-2019 school year. And the bill was changed so that half of the requirement would be based on a state test and the other half on local tests.

The Michigan Department of Education will offer money to districts that adopt state-approved teacher evaluation tools. But the bill allows local districts to create their own evaluation methods.

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