MCEE’s Building an Improvement Focused System of Educator Evaluation in Michigan Final Recommendations
I will admit when I first decided to review the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness Recommendations, I intended to do so with a huge chip on my shoulders. Without going into specific detail, and in an attempt to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, the evaluation was used unfairly against teachers as a whole in my district in the last school year, due to the recent shift in teacher accountability and pressures placed on administrators.
These pressures led to a lack of understanding the goals and purposes for evaluating teacher effectiveness.
Now the before mentioned chip I was carrying became even larger after perusing the MCEE website and viewing the council itself. Bluntly stated at first glance, there is a clear lack of diversity represented on the council. This was quite disheartening when nearly 50% of Michigan’s children of color are being educated under Emergency Managers or low performing schools within both urban and rural districts. Many believe teacher effectiveness has long been the predominant cause.
It is difficult to understand how the governor could have appointed this council without asserting the necessity for a diverse committee. This point is not to take anything away from the extremely educated and capable members, however in order to promote diversity and effect positive change for all demographics, diversity should be represented in the state’s councils and boards. Michigan Governor Snyder, in conjunction with legislative policy Public 102 appointed the MCEE. The council met for eighteen months, at least twice monthly with one over arching goal in mind. “The MCEE will develop a fair, transparent, and feasible evaluation system for teachers and school administrators. This system is to contribute to enhanced instruction, improve student achievement and support ongoing professional learning.” The legislature also allocated six million dollars for council usage to review, develop, pilot, research, and draft the final outcomes.
Overall the report is impressive! In all 157 pages of the report, (and yes, I read all 157 pages several times) a clear plan of action is defined which presents a thorough investigation, fair and equitable action steps along with ambitious recommenda-tions. Simply stated, teacher evaluations are provided to ensure the improvement of the teaching profession by improving the skills and instructional practices of teachers.
The renaming of evaluation categories to professional, provisional and ineffective demonstrates a clear shift toward teacher focus. Although districts, administrators, and political talking heads may feel evaluation is meant to enforce punitive measures in an attempt to fix a supposedly broken system; this is not accurate! Yet despite all these promulgations the implementation and precise practice seems far from reality for Michigan’s turbulent educational climate. Cost factors are always a concern. And yes, they are astronomical! However, it will be an issue that is not the predominant focus of this response.
There are other issues the recommendations must face including attitudes within the profession of mistrust and skepticism, tangible support for flexible, and improved professional development, and finally cohesive ideology among state government and Learning Education Agencies (LEA).
See Part II to Continue the Discussion