Currently, section 1249 of the Michigan Revised School Code requires that student growth be weighted 50% during the 2015-2016 school year. The Michigan Legislature is considering various drafts of Senate Bill 103, that would reduce the percentage weight allocated to students' growth; however, there is disagreement on aspects of these bills, that is impeding adoption of a revised bill. It is not known if the weight will be reduced to 25%, 40% or something in between, as the latest substitute bill drafts contain variations in the percentages assigned to student growth.
As a result, we recommend that Districts comply with section 1249 as written, and explain to staff that the District reserves the right to amend its performance evaluation system during the upcoming school year, as the legislation may evolve. Districts may wish to amend their current guidelines, regulations and performance evaluation systems to state that growth will be weighted as determined by the District, and in accordance with applicable law.
Our advice is founded in large part upon the Michigan Teachers' Tenure Act, specifically MCLA sections 38.83a and 38.93, that require school boards to evaluate probationary and tenured teachers using performance evaluation systems that comply with section 1249. Recent court decisions also inform us that districts may act at their peril if they make high stakes personnel decisions (such as layoff and recall) based on performance evaluation systems that are not compliant with section 1249.
In the meantime, we encourage you to make your policy preferences known to your local representatives of the House and Senate, and to encourage adoption of a new bill before the start of the school year, or as close to the beginning of the year as reasonably feasible.
If you have any questions about your District's performance evaluation systems, please contact Barbara A. Ruga at (616) 608-1105 | firstname.lastname@example.org or another member of Clark Hill's Education Law Practice Group.
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