Contents of this issue:

  • Teacher evaluation talks begin
  • Some will get certificates, not diplomas
  • Back to semesters in West Ottawa
  • From 'Green' to 'Emerald,' 'Evergreen'
  • Support staff may switch unions


DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. - Michigan is moving into "unchartered territory" as school districts look for new ways to evaluate teachers and administrators, a school administrator told The (Dearborn) Press and Guide.

Under new school reform legislation, school districts must take student performance into account in evaluating educators.

Superintendent Laurine VanValkenburg of Crestwood School District told The Press and Guide that she expects student performance on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program and Michigan Merit Exam to make up 40 to 60 percent of the new evaluation process.

Other ways of evaluating teachers will be determined through collective bargaining, she said, according to The Press and Guide.

One question is how best to measure the effectiveness of teachers in elective areas that are not directly measured by standardized tests, such as art or music, she said, The Press and Guide reported.

Right now, Crestwood evaluates non-tenured teachers annually and tenured teachers every other year, VanValkenburg told The Press and Guide.

The (Dearborn) Press and Guide, "Race to top creates new issues for districts," Feb. 16, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Teacher Quality Primer: Using Value-Added Assessment to Define Teacher Quality," June 30, 2008


BAY CITY, Mich. - Bay City Public Schools is developing a policy under which students who do not meet Michigan's new graduation requirements would receive a "certificate of completion" rather than a diploma, according to The Bay City Times.

Public school districts are mandated by the state to have a certification plan, but are allowed to set the qualifications locally, according to the report.

The Class of 2012 will be the first group of seniors charged with meeting the new Michigan Merit Curriculum standards, according to The Times. Douglas Newcombe, Bay City interim superintendent, told The Times that the certificate of completion would acknowledge a certain level of academic work.

Offering a certificate may give students an incentive to continue in school rather than drop out, Brian Johnson, curriculum director, told The Times, though others suggested it would encourage students to settle for a certificate rather than work for a diploma.

In Bangor Township Schools, which already has a certification policy, Superintendent Tina Kerr told The Times that she anticipates most cases will involve students who cannot meet math requirements.

The Bay City Times, "Bay City schools ponder alternative certificate for students who can't meet new graduation requirements," Feb. 11, 2010

Michigan Education Report, "Well-intentioned folly: School psychologist suggests 'high standards' may leave some behind," Feb. 29, 2008


HOLLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. - A west Michigan high school is switching back to semesters in 2010-2011 as a way to save $500,000 annually by hiring fewer teachers, according to The Holland Sentinel.

West Ottawa High School will move to a two-semester school year rather than continue the trimester calendar it has been on for six years, The Sentinel reported. Jim Nicolette, the district's assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, said that the semester schedule will require seven fewer teachers, according to the report.

He said that teacher retirements may allow the switch to take place without layoffs, but that is not certain, according to The Sentinel.

He also said that the shift may help students academically because it will eliminate cases in which a student studies a subject for the first two trimesters of one year, but does not return to that subject until the second two trimesters of the next year, The Sentinel reported.

The Holland Sentinel, "West Ottawa to save $400-$500K, 7 teaching positions with switch to semesters," Feb. 16, 2010

Michigan Education Report, "New high school graduation requirements in action," May 6, 2008


LANSING, Mich. - State legislators are considering a bill that would expand Michigan's "Green School" program to a three-tiered system recognizing higher participation in "environmental stewardship," according to a report at Michigan Capitol Confidential.

The state Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 904, which would create "Emerald" and "Evergreen" designations for schools that meet criteria ranging from having students check the tire pressure on school buses to hosting guest speakers from the Sierra Club, the report said.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is a new, online news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which also publishes Michigan Education Digest.

The 2006 law that created the "Green Schools" program required schools to meet 10 of 20 criteria; the new bill would modify and add to those as well as recognize schools that implement 15 or 20 criteria as "Emerald" or "Evergreen," respectively, according to Capitol Confidential.

Diane Katz, the former director of science, environment and technology policy for the Mackinac Center, said in 2006 that, "(f)ew states or school districts have actually evaluated the veracity and impartiality of environmental curricula," Capitol Confidential reported.

Senate Bill 904 is now in the House Great Lakes and Environment Committee, according to Capitol Confidential.

Michigan Capitol Confidential, "State Encourages Students to Clean School Refrigerator Coils, Check Bus Tire Pressure," Feb. 10, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "An Alternative to Green Orthodoxy," April 3, 2006


SOUTH LYON, Mich. - South Lyon Community Schools support workers will vote March 2 on whether to switch union affiliation from the Michigan Education Association to the Teamsters, according to a report by The (Detroit) Observer & Eccentric Newspapers.

Teamsters Local 214 President Joe Valenti told The Observer & Eccentric that the vote will include bus drivers, food service workers and custodians.

The district recently announced it will lay off 14 full-time and five part-time custodians on April 1 in order to reduce spending, according to the report. The district also is considering a change in the cleaning schedule that would cut spending by $729,000 if implemented in 2010-2011, according to The Observer & Eccentric.

"We think there is a lot the MEA owes its members," Valenti told The Observer & Eccentric.

The (Detroit) Observer & Eccentric, "District union expected to leave MEA for Teamsters," Feb. 18, 2010

Michigan Education Report, "Union voted out at American Indian school; staff policies under review," May 24, 2007

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (http://www.educationreport.org), an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (http://www.mackinac.org), a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Lorie Shane at

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