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Statewide teacher evaluation bill clears big hurdle in the state Senate

May 20, 2015

Credit User Alberto G. / Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A bill meant to improve teacher evaluations across Michigan has cleared the state Senate.

Similar legislation never got out of the Senate last year. Bill sponsor state Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair, says Senate Bill 103 relies less on state standardized tests to evaluate teachers and administrators.

“Less Lansing is better when it comes to evaluations,” said Pavlov.

“We don’t need to be controlling this with a 200-mile screwdriver from Lansing. This is a function of them knowing their personnel. And I think that’s when you get the best evaluation and that’s what’s going to be fairest for teachers.”

40 percent of teachers’ scores would still eventually be based on student growth on standardized tests. Critics say that number is still too high. And they say the bill fails to set appropriate minimum standards for how evaluations should be conducted.

Some opponents also say the bill does not improve local control – especially considering that it’s tied to sweeping changes the Legislature made to teacher tenure in 2011. They say those changes handed down overly prescriptive measures, such as requiring teachers be fired if they’re rated “ineffective” three years in a row.

“It rejects the notion of local control and instead removes from our school districts the right to make personnel decisions at the local level based upon what they feel is best for the students,” said state Sen. David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights.

The legislation now goes to the state House.