Updated 2:48 p.m., 4:43 p.m.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law on Tuesday two bills that will delay changes to the way the state evaluates its educators, narrowly beating the deadline before which they would have taken effect.
Senate Bills 122 and 202, introduced by state Sen. Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth), will prevent a planned increase in the share of formal evaluations based on student data from standardized testing — the former regarding those for teachers and the latter those for administrators.
“As I continue to visit schools across the state, nearly every educator says the same thing: they are forced to spend more time on testing than actually teaching their students how to learn,” Whitmer said in a statement. “We know that test scores are only one piece of the puzzle and not the whole story. I’ve put forth a real solution in the budget to boost student performance, and I look forward to working with the legislature to get it done.”*
The original plan was enacted under Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder and would have taken effect for the 2018-19 school year if the current legislation was not adopted by early May.
After unanimous passage in the Senate last week the bills passed nearly unanimously in the House today, with only state Rep. Matt Hall (R-Emmett Twp.) voting against the bill. Hall also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last week, House Education Committee Chair Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Twp.) told the committee she was “not doing this again next year,” saying she was “frustrated that we are worried about our adults before we are worried about our kids.”
The Michigan Education Association and other interest groups lauded the legislation’s passage. The union said it gave the state “a window of time to fix our broken teacher evaluation system.” The MEA did agree with critics of the bills, like Hornberger, in saying that their enactment will only prompt further action, noting that “this delay only keeps a big problem from getting worse.”
MEA spokesperson David Crim told the Advance today that although the organization is “not popping champagne corks here” over a one-year delay, they believe the bipartisan agreement that the currently proposed standards are unacceptable is encouraging, and hope to move toward a system where the state “returns to a collaborative process between administrators and educators over what the evaluations should contain.”*
Under the new laws, the standards originally proposed from 2015 will take effect beginning with the 2019-20 school year, unless an alternative plan is signed into law.
This story was updated with further comment from the MEA and Gov. Whitmer.