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Clinton Township, Macomb Township

November 28, 2012

CVS board, administration discuss teacher evaluation changes

By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer

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Michael Reeber, the assistant superintendent of human resources for Chippewa Valley Schools, discusses at the Nov. 19 Board of Education meeting the changes the district made to teacher evaluations for the school year. Teachers’ effectiveness will be based on a 23-section rubric.

CLINTON TOWNSHP — For more than a year, Chippewa Valley Schools has been trying to achieve fairness and consistency when it comes to how it evaluates teachers.

“We’ve been told it needs to be done but not how it needs to be done,” Michael Reeber, assistant superintendent for human resources, told the CVS Board of Education at its Nov. 19 meeting.

More than a year ago, the Michigan Legislature mandated that districts rate teacher effectiveness. But Reeber said a lack of direction from the state has left the district scrambling to define an “effective” or “highly effective” teacher. Last year’s evaluations were admittedly “crude,” Reeber said. So, throughout the summer and early fall, CVS administrators sat down with teachers to receive their input on how to define the categories.

As a result, teachers will have a rubric with 23 sections of teacher performance and student growth to determine how they will be rated.

“A teacher could look at the sections and see what they need to do to be ‘highly effective,’” Reeber said.

The evaluations will also include an appeal process for teachers, if they feel they were evaluated incorrectly.

Like last year, teachers will be evaluated on four different levels — “highly effective,” “effective,” “minimally effective” and “ineffective.” But the rubric will spell out what levels they have to reach to be “highly effective” teachers and how they can better improve their performances.

“We’re hoping to make this more consistent and transparent as possible,” Reeber said. “We’re trying to get something in place that will help our teachers and administrators in the evaluation process.”

Next year, Reeber said the layoff-and-recall process will be based on effectiveness ratings.

“We’re just as nervous as the teachers are about how that will roll out,” he said.

The new system comes as the state is in the middle of developing a Michigan-wide evaluation system.

Superintendent Ronald Roberts said Michigan is spending $5 million on pilot tests in several districts to determine the best way to evaluate teachers.

“By the end of this year, what they want is to make a recommendation for probably two different tools districts could adopt for evaluation,” Roberts said.

But he fears that the tools will link student educational growth too strongly with teacher performance: something that has not been accurately correlated.

“No one can point to anything that’s happened in our nation where they can test kids and accurately attribute that to a teacher under our current system,” Roberts said. “Our state needs to do something that no other state has done, which is accurately measure student growth based on teacher performance in the classroom.”

Board President George Sobah said it is typical of the state to require change without funding or guidelines.

“It’s not unlike the state to make mandates without direction and telling you have to squeeze it in among everything else you have to do with no additional financing for it,” Sobah said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robert Guttersohn at rguttersohn@candgnews.com or at (586)218-5006.