States

Federal Waivers, an Advocacy Group, and Teacher Evaluations: A Michigan Story

By Andrew Ujifusa — May 01, 2014 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

After the demise of Washington state’s waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act, my colleague Alyson Klein over at Politcs K-12 wrote that Michigan is another state poised to enter the waiver danger zone. On April 29, she reported that the feds are displeased that for the 2014-15 school year, Michigan does not yet require assessment data to be used in teacher evaluations statewide.

As it happens, the state’s lawmakers, per Brian Smith at the MLive news site, are considering a package of bills that include altering teacher evaluations so that they would include students’ performance on assessments. If the bills become law, teacher evaluations across the state would have to be based in part on student growth on state assessments statewide for the 2014-15 school year. That move, in turn, would satisfy the U.S. Department of Education regarding the future of Michigan’s NCLB waiver.

Smith calls the proposed changes “bipartisan” because one Democrat, Rep. Adam Zemke, and one Republican, Rep. Margaret O’Brien, are behind the bills. But that turned out to be not the only thing that was bipartisan about the situation. When the bills were due for official consideration in the House education committee April 30, lawmakers focused much of their attention not on the legislation, but on a K-12 policy-advocacy group, Education Trust-Midwest, which is based in Royal Oak, Mich. The group had emailed legislators to say that if they didn’t pass the legislation, Michigan’s waiver would be in jeopardy (for what it’s worth, the group cited Alyson’s April 29 blog post as evidence).

Lawmakers reacted unkindly to the email.

“I’ve been trying to at least get to neutral on this package, because I do have concerns about cost and other things, but the email from Ed Trust-Midwest did you no favors in trying to get the bill through committee, and bullying and threatening tactics don’t work, neither among strong conservatives nor among strong liberals,” Rep. Bob Genetski, a Republican, told O’Brien and Zemke, according to Smith. Zemke also called Education Trust-Midwest’s claim “completely inaccurate.”

State legislators, understandably, don’t want to feel like they’re being frogmarched by the feds, or anyone else, into approving legislation dealing with a controversial subject like teacher evaluation. But clearly, the education department says some sort of legislative action on evaluations for the 2014-15 school year is important in the context of Michigan’s waiver.

In a statement, Arellano was brief and didn’t mention the dyspepsia about her group’s email: “We know this issue is important to improving educational achievement for Michigan’s students. We are pleased to see the committee is preparing to move ahead.”

The plan now under consideration in Michigan, by the way, would set the student-growth- and assessment-based portion of evaluations at 25 percent for the 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17 years. In 2017-18, it would rise to 40 percent of teachers’ evaluations.

There’s also potential a controversy brewing over what that state assessment used in evaluations would be. The state is set to give the Smarter Balanced test in 2014-15, but some lawmakers apparently would prefer that Michigan give its NCLB-era test, the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP), instead. As Smith details in his once-again excellent reporting, however, state Superintendent Mike Flanagan has said that giving MEAP isn’t an option for the state in 2014-15.

While the Smarter Balanced assessment, which is aligned to the Common Core State Standards, is expected to be a more difficult test for students than NCLB tests like MEAP, that doesn’t automatically mean how states calculate student growth on the tests will be tougher on teachers.

As you might recall, in 2013, Michigan enacted a temporary spending provision on both the common core and Smarter Balanced while legislators undertook an analysis of the standards and the test. While officials ultimately opted to stick with both the common core, which has the support of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, as well as Smarter Balanced, that doesn’t mean all anxiety about the test has been eased. Lawmakers in Florida and Louisiana, to varying degrees, are also looking at how the common core and aligned tests are impacting their accountability systems, and how spreading that impact over more than one year might be in order.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

States During Site Visit From Cardona, Illinois Governor Defends Vaccine, Testing Policies
“The testing regimen is there in order to make sure that they’re not entering the institution where they work and spreading COVID-19.”
Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune
3 min read
The Student Council lead the creation of “sensory hallways” at Western Branch Middle School in Chesapeake, Va.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona looks on as Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks with reporters after touring Access Hawthorne Family Health Center, which is offering COVID-19 vaccines at 3040 S. Cicero Ave. in Cicero, as part of the Department of Education's "Return to School Road Trip" events in the Chicago area, Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 21, 2021.
Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP
States Kentucky Ends All Statewide Mask Mandates After Governor's Vetoes Overridden
The Republican-led legislation strips the Democratic governor's ability to issue statewide mask mandates in schools or anywhere else.
Jack Brammer and Alex Acquisto, Lexington Herald-Leader
4 min read
In this Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, file photo, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear addresses the media in Frankfort, Ky. Kentucky's governor said Sunday, Oct. 11, that he will quarantine after a member of his security detail who drove with his family the day before later tested positive for COVID-19. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear said he and his family feel fine, show no coronavirus symptoms and have tested negative for the virus.
In this Sept. 23, 2020, file photo, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear addresses the media in Frankfort, Ky.
Timothy D. Easley/AP
States Bill to Restrict How Race and Racism Is Taught in Schools Headed to Texas Governor
If the "critical race theory" bill sounds familiar, that's because lawmakers passed a similar one during the regular legislative session.
Eleanor Dearman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
4 min read
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference in Austin, Texas, on June 8, 2021.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference in Austin, Texas, on June 8, 2021.
Eric Gay/AP
States Infographic Which States Are Reporting COVID-19 Cases in Schools?
Some states are reporting the number of COVID-19 cases in their schools and districts. Use this table to find your state's data.
Image shows the coronavirus along with data charts and numbers.
iStock/Getty Images Plus