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Northville Teachers to See New Criteria for Evaluations, Merit-Based Pay

The school board approved changes to get the district to get in line with recent legislation.

Northville Public Schools have seen a lot of changes this year – from sizeable concessions in the new teacher's contract to a recently privatized bus system.

Add to that list a new method of teacher evaluation.

Michigan law now requires school boards “to adopt and implement a rigorous, transparent and fair performance evaluation system," superintendent Mary Kay Gallagher told the school board at its last meeting. The Board of Education approved changes to the annual teacher evaluation forms earlier this month. Northville educators will soon see a greater emphasis on "student growth" and less emphasis on teacher tenure.

Teachers will be evaluated in five areas: classroom environment, preparation and instruction, student growth trend data, professional responsibilities and goal-setting with administrators.

Test scores and the rubric data will be used to rate teachers as highly effective, effective, minimally effective or ineffective.

There was some concern among board members that using the rubric is too subjective and may be a problem later. Others worried that the subjectivity wouldn't allow for equality in measuring from school to school.

“There’s a lot of soft language,” board member Joe Hige said. He added that it leaves the opportunity for teachers with low evaluations to challenge the findings.

“What I saw was 100 percent subjective,” he said.

Gallagher said that by quantifying the results, other problems would arise.

“There’s always someone at the bottom with a forced ranking,” she said.

She further explained that even if all of the teachers were highly effective or effective, a ranking system resulting from quantifying the results would unfairly put one of those teachers at the bottom of the list. And parents might begin to think that they can’t send their children to a school with someone at the bottom, despite how effective they may be.

The district also approved the following criteria for merit-based pay, according to district documents:

  • Three or fewer non-work related absences during the year
  • Ratings of 'effective' or higher in four of the five evaluation areas
  • Consistently high levels of student growth and achievement
  • "Exceptional commitment and involvement in leadership, professional development and staff collaboration."
  • "Significant contributions to district goals and commitment to leadership at the building and district level."

The school board approved the language outlining merit-based pay and teacher evaluations with the caveat that it could be revised later.

The next regular school board meeting is set for Sept. 27 at .

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