Michigan panel recommends teacher evaluation system

LANSING (AP) – An independent panel of educators is recommending a new statewide evaluation system for Michigan public school teachers and administrators that would include announced and unannounced classroom observations.

The recommendations were submitted to Gov. Rick Snyder, state legislators and state education officials on Wednesday, according to the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness.

Legislative hearings could begin this summer or fall, and schools would be required to have the evaluation system in place by the start of the 2015 academic year.

Teachers would be evaluated on their teaching practices and student academic growth based on standardized tests. School administrators, including district superintendents, principals and assistant principals, would be evaluated on their ability to evaluate teachers, progress they make on school improvement plans, attendance rates and other areas.

The evaluations would give three rating levels: “professional,” ”provisional” or “ineffective.” Ineffective ratings for two consecutive years could result in dismissal.

Teachers would get better and consistent feedback about their classroom work under the system, according to the council.

“Every child in Michigan deserves skillful teachers, not just some of the time but each and every year,” said Deborah Loewenberg Ball, the council’s chairwoman. “And every teacher deserves the opportunity to develop and continue to refine his or her professional skill – to receive targeted feedback and professional learning opportunities to improve instruction. We believe a fair, transparent and rigorous teacher evaluation system can help transform the culture of the teaching profession and benefit the state’s 1.5 million schoolchildren.”

“They don’t understand how health care reform will impact and help them,” Hazaert said. “We really need to be putting resources into educating the public and what their enrollment options are. Unfortunately much of that money has been sent back to the federal government.”

Advocates have asked federal officials to send Michigan’s turned-away allotment to nonprofits or other organizations in the state so the marketing effort doesn’t suffer. It’s not immediately clear what the Obama administration will decide or to what extent it will do its own public relations blitz in a state where it’s solely responsible for the new exchange where people or businesses can buy a government-subsidized private plan.

One health center ramping up outreach efforts is InterCare Community Health Network, which treats low-income patients in six counties in southwest Michigan. More than one-third of the 50,000 people seen at a handful of its clinics are uninsured.

InterCare is using a federal grant to hire five employees to split their time between a health clinic and being out in the community – at county health departments, Head Start classrooms, grocery stores and elsewhere. Each will be expected to sign up 1,000 individuals in a year, or an average of three to four per workday.

Enrollment for the exchange will last from October through March and start again in October 2014, though Medicaid signup go on all year. Tax credits will go to people with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $92,000 for a family of four.

The state Senate is considering whether to approve House-passed legislation that would expand Medicaid eligibility to more low-income adults starting in January.