teacher performance

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

As Michigan moves into new, uncharted waters in terms of testing and evaluating those who hope to become teachers, there are many views on whether this testing and evaluation is fair, helpful, and an accurate measurement of how students, teachers, and schools are doing.

Mitch Robinson is an associate professor and chair of music education at Michigan State University. A former teacher, his research is now focused on education policy and the mentoring of new music teachers. 

He believes test scores like the beefed-up version of Michigan's teacher certification test aren't telling us anything substantial about students or learning.

Listen to the full interview above.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Lawmakers are in the midst of a debate over how teachers in Michigan should be evaluated.

Hearings were held today at the Capitol and the Michigan Public Radio Network's Jake Neher was there. He joined us today.

*Listen to the audio above.

user alkruse24 / Flickr

There are several complicated questions surrounding teacher evaluations in Michigan. Should there be a state standard for evaluating teachers? What should that evaluation encompass? Should teacher pay be pegged to the evaluation, the pay for performance system?

The Michigan council for educator effectiveness spent nearly 2 years and $6 million on a pilot program in 13 districts, and they’ve now come out with a recommendation for a new statewide teacher evaluation tool.

Jake Neher is the Lansing reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He joined us in the studio today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

user kconnors / morgueFile

How should the job performance of Michigan teachers be evaluated? What should the standard be? Should there be a state-wide common standard used to evaluate teachers?

Those were some of the key questions tackled by the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness. The temporary body recently came out with its recommendations for a new statewide teacher evaluation tool.

The Council is recommending that by 2015-16, half of a teacher’s evaluation should be based on classroom practices and the other half on student growth as determined by scores on tests.

The panel also is recommending that a teacher be dismissed after two years of ineffective ratings.

Many years ago, I had an unscrupulous high school algebra teacher, and the misfortune to have him the last hour of this day. His passion was horse racing, and his deal with the class was this:

He would give us a bunch of problems to solve, breeze through the basic concepts, and then take off for the race track. The understanding was that we wouldn’t squeal on him and everyone would pass. Somehow, he got away with this.

I have no idea if he ever got caught. Now most teachers aren’t like that. For years, I was married to a woman who was ranked one of the nation’s three best AP History teachers. Nor are teachers the only factor in educational achievement, But finding a way to distinguish good teachers from bad is important, and the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness has just submitted new recommendations I think are worth considering.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

First federal bankruptcy hearing today

Detroit kicks off federal bankruptcy hearings today, and the first order of business will be deciding if the city can cut pensions to pay down its debts.

“City officials say the pension funds are $3.5 billion short. But Michigan's state constitution says you can't cut public pensions. That’s why city employees and retirees are suing to block the bankruptcy. A federal judge will consider whether the pension debate is a state or federal issue,” Michigan Radio’s Kate Wells report.

New teacher evaluations submitted to state

A new evaluation system for Michigan teachers has been submitted to the state. Under the new system, teachers would be evaluated by student growth based on standardized test scores and classroom observations of their teaching practice. The recommendations come from the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness. If approved by the legislature, hearings on the new system could start this summer.

Proposed bill to cut funding for the Great Lakes 

"A bill that will drastically cut federal funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was approved by a U.S. House of Representative subcommittee yesterday. The bill will cut funding from the program from an original budget of $285 million down to $60 million for the 2014 fiscal year. The bill also proposes an 80% cut in a loan fund for local sewer system upgrades," Michigan Radio's Lindsay Hall reports. 

It sometimes seems that education reform has become a lot like the weather.  We talk almost incessantly about it these days, but you have to wonder if anybody really can do much to change things.

The Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce’s annual Mackinac Conference begins today, and education is a heavy focus. Michelle Rhee, the controversial founder of StudentsFirst and the former head of Washington D.C. public schools will give a keynote address. There will be a panel on 21st Century jobs and education, and another, moderated by Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White, on early childhood education.