LANSING, Mich. (March 17, 2022) — Today, Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia) introduced Senate Bill 969 to temporarily eliminate the annual year-end teacher evaluations for the 2021-2022 school year.

Under the law for this school year, 40% of a teachers’ annual year-end evaluation is based on student growth from Fall 2021 to Spring 2022, despite the challenges faced during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, only 25% of student growth was a part of the evaluation.

“It’s difficult to measure the standards of teaching when nothing about the past two years has been standardized for our teachers,” said Sen. Polehanki, a former teacher and teacher of the year award recipient. “It’s only right and fair that we provide some relief and job safety for teachers, who have tirelessly worked to provide a quality education throughout the pandemic, and that’s what my bill intends to do.”

In a non-pandemic year, an evaluation that is weighted so heavily on student growth is daunting for teachers, but in a pandemic year, it is particularly unfair for the following reasons:

  • In-person learning, which is superior to virtual learning and is essential to achieve academic growth, was paused for periods of time that varied across school districts due to the pandemic.
  • Outside factors related to the pandemic and student mental health no doubt affected the extent to which students achieved academically.
  • For some teachers, evaluations must be based on a blend of past years’ standardized test scores. With students opting out of testing and the disruptions caused by the pandemic, these teachers cannot calculate student growth with accuracy.
  • Not only do (Michigan Department of Education) MDE-approved benchmark testing companies recommend that their product not be used to evaluate teachers, but many students took their benchmark testing at home this school year, which makes testing reliability nearly impossible to measure.
  • Due to the teacher shortage and some teachers having to quarantine, many students did not experience continuity of instruction with their assigned teacher(s).
  • Michigan’s laws require that teacher layoff/recall decisions be “based on” effectiveness. To choose which teachers to lay off or recall based in large measure on student growth during the pandemic is unfair.

The legislation has support from Sens. Jon Bumstead (R-Newaygo) and Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan), who have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill.