The Senate Republicans dropped a massive, 11 bill education reform package this week. The bills cover everything from evaluation to assessment and substitute teachers to additional reporting requirements. While the phrase "huge education reform package" is likely to inspire more fear or angst than hope among educators, there is lots to like in the Senate package. But there are also some things to dislike too.

These bills are on a FAST track. MASSP was given 72 hours to submit feedback on the bills after they were introduced and there is a hearing already scheduled for Tuesday, March 23 at 5pm. We fully expect them to be voted out of the Senate by the end of next week. There may still be some changes made around the edges to tweak these bills, so at this point, it's not worth digging too deeply into the minutia. In that spirit, here are the quick and dirty highlights that Principals will want to know:

Educator Evaluations

  • Would permanently lower the student growth component required in educator evaluations down to 25%.
  • For the 2020-21 school year only, the requirement to use state data would be eliminated.
  • Michigan would move to having only three rating categories:  ineffective, emerging, effective.
  • Districts could choose to conduct biennial evaluations for all teachers and administrators rated at least effective.

State Assessment Waiver

  • The bills would waive the state-level requirement for districts to administer the MME for the 2020-21 school year.
  • Districts would be required to OFFER the PSAT and SAT to students in grades 8-11, but no other test would be required.
  • Michigan would still need federal approval to completely waive state assessments, but this would at least clear the way for things like WorkKeys to go away for this year.
  • NOTE: It is going to be VERY difficult for the legislature to pass this legislation before leaving for spring break. If they don't then it won't pass in time for the spring administration of PSAT, SAT, and WorkKeys.

Individual Academic Recovery Plans

  • Would require districts to develop and send to parents written summaries of academic performance for each individual pupil they teach and send them to parents by May 15.
  • Each teacher would also be required to develop and send to parents a written learning recovery plan for each pupil they taught during the 2020-21 school year not later than August 14.

Other Provisions in the Package

  • Until August 31, 2021, allow districts to utilize any employee who has been with the district for at least three years as a substitute teacher, regardless of whether they have 60 credit hours.
  • Require districts to report student benchmark assessment results to CEPI through the regional data hub network. Require CEPI to develop reports on the data disaggregated at the district, building, and grade level.
  • Create a new Statewide Summative Assessment Improvement Advisory Commission composed of political appointees to develop an RFP for a new state summative assessment to replace M-STEP. The new assessment would have to offer benchmark assessments as well as a summative assessment. The RFP would be issued by an ISD rather than the MDE.
  • Delay third grade reading retention until the 2021-22 school year.
  • Create a process for parents to request that their students be retained. If a district received such request by July 1, 2021, the district would be required to honor it.

MASSP will continue to keep members apprised as these bills move through the process.