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Evaluation data shows virtually zero educators in Michigan are ineffective

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Because of changes made last year by the Michigan legislature, school districts in the Wolverine State will negotiate over more terms with teachers unions in the coming year as contracts set under the previous rules expire.

One of those changes includes how teachers are evaluated, but the current evaluation system in Michigan may be riddled with inaccuracy. According to the state’s educator effectiveness data, virtually zero teachers were rated ineffective in the 2022-23 school year.

According to MI School Data, the state’s official source of education information compiled by the Center for Educational Performance and Information, 46,130 teachers were deemed highly effective (41%), and 63,398 received an effective rating (57%).

Only 1,547 teachers (1%) received a minimally effective grade, and 197 teachers (0%) were classified as ineffective.

The data show the trend has held constant for the last 10 years, with most educators receiving ratings of effective or more. The percentage of teachers receiving the designation increased slightly after the COVID-19 pandemic when teacher effectiveness significantly dropped.

At the same time, standardized test scores show that Michigan’s public school students performed worse despite rising educator effectiveness ratings. The National Assessment for Educational Progress found the average Michigan student’s test scores were lower than in 2019, and fewer students scored at a basic level or higher than three years earlier.

Teacher evaluations are currently tied to student academic achievement based on standardized test scores.

“Legislation requires that student growth and assessment data must account for 40% of the annual year-end educator evaluation,” the Michigan Department of Education website reads.

“For teachers of grades and content areas measured by state assessment with student growth data available for use, 50% of the student growth portion of evaluations (20% of the total evaluation) must be determined by state assessment student growth data,” the MDE website continues.

But as of next school year, the exact approach will look different for every district and assessments will hold less weight in determining teacher performance. The terms used to describe teachers will also change.

“Beginning July 1, 2024, the performance evaluation system must assign a rating to each teacher of effective, developing, or needing support based on the teacher’s year-end evaluation described in this subsection,” the law reads.

Michigan school districts will negotiate the specific student growth, test score data or learning objectives metrics used with teachers’ unions, but “20% of the year-end evaluation must be based on student growth and assessment data or student learning objectives metrics.”

In Detroit, more employees were investigated by the school district’s office of the inspector general than educators who received an ineffective rating.

In the 2023 fiscal year, the Detroit Public Schools Community District referred 186 employees for administrative discipline. The district’s inspector general does not track cases using type of employment.

According to MI School Data, 25 teachers in Detroit were ineffective, and 127 were minimally effective during the 2022-23 school year.

As Chalkboard reported recently, teachers’ union leaders and other experts have lauded the changes to the evaluation process, saying student testing does not performance is not an indicator of a teachers’ performance.

Critics of the changes argue that it will allow ineffective teachers to remain in schools longer.

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