Answering Your Superintendent Evaluation Questions

Joel Gerring

By Joel Gerring, MASB Assistant Legal Counsel

DashBoard, Oct. 5, 2016

Recently, the Legal Team has been fielding a number of questions regarding the administrator evaluation laws that were put into effect last November. We will address the answers to a handful of the most common questions in a series of FAQs over the next few weeks.

Question: Does the administrator evaluation tool that we use have to be on the Michigan Department of Education’s approved list?

Answer: No. The law specifically states that districts “are not limited to only using the evaluation tools that are included on the list.” See Section 1249(b)(3).

The fact that a particular evaluation tool is not currently on the MDE “recommended” list does not mean that that tool does not comply with the law and therefore cannot be used. Currently, the MDE list consists of only two evaluation tools and, to the best of our knowledge, neither of these tools have necessarily been “vetted” by MDE as being compliant with the law, although it is safe to assume that the creators of those tools have done everything that they can to ensure that their tools are compliant (just as every other entity that has developed a tool is sure to do).

Question: If we pick one of the two tools that are currently on the MDE list is it safe to assume that they comply with the law?

Answer: Not exactly.

The two tools currently on MDE’s “recommended” list were placed there as a directive from the statute itself, which specifically mandated that the list “shall include at least the two evaluation models recommended in the final recommendations released by the Michigan Council on Educator Effectiveness in July 2013.” (Again, see Section 1249(b)(3).) These two were the School Advance and the Reeves tools, which is why they are the only two currently on the list. In addition, if you explore either of these two evaluation tools in any detail, at least from the links provided on the MDE site, you will notice that much of the information provided actually predates the law itself.

Every entity that is currently providing an evaluation tool, including the developers of the Reeves and School Advance tools, are striving to meet the letter of the law which, at present, merely means complying with the website posting requirements of Section 1249(3)(c). This includes releasing information regarding the research basis for the evaluation framework and identifying the authors of the tool, as well as demonstrating its validity, efficacy and reliability among other things. (See MDE Memorandum dated Sept. 1, 2016.)

The bottom line is that a particular tool’s inclusion on the list is not a guarantee of its compliance with the law; and likewise, the fact that a particular tool is not on the list is not a sign that it doesn’t comply with the law.

Question: This law was passed last November; why haven’t more tools been added to the list?

Answer: MDE is in the process of developing the rules, standards and procedures that will be necessary for having a tool added to (or removed from) their list, but have indicated that this process will not be completed until “early summer of 2017.” In the meantime, only the two tools “mandated” by the statute will appear on the list. However, again, the statute also makes it clear that it is permissible to use tools that are not listed.

Read More DashBoard Articles