News Story

State’s Faltering District Managers All Given High Rankings

Every EAA administrator received high marks

Earlier this year, a group investigating reform options for Detroit’s public schools recommended that the state's Education Achievement Authority (EAA) be ended. The EAA was created in 2011 to take over management of the state's lowest-performing schools — which currently means 12 schools in Detroit.

The Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren wrote in its March report: “Fifteen years after the state took over our school system, three years after the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) took control of the city’s lowest-performing schools, academic achievement remains tragically low, by far the worst of any big city in the country.”

When the Great Lakes Education Project released a list of 20 schools in 2013 it said should be closed for persistent poor academic achievement, 13 were under EAA control.

The EAA says it is achieving success.

Despite criticism and calls for closure, the EAA’s own evaluations of its top leaders gave all administrators high marks. Michigan’s public schools rate teachers and administrators with four ratings — “highly effective,” “effective,” “minimally effective,” and “ineffective.” In the two most recent evaluations (the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school year), EAA’s administrators didn’t have one administrator rate lower than “effective.”

In 2012-13, five administrators were rated “highly effective” and the remaining 21 were rated “effective.” The next school year, one administrator was rated “highly effective” and the remaining 36 were “effective.”

The Michigan Department of Education defines “administrators” as superintendents, assistant superintendents, administrators, principals and assistant principals.

Mario Morrow, spokesman for the EAA, said the EAA board of directors evaluates the chancellor, who reviews the performances of associate chancellors, central office administrators, and network leaders. Network leaders evaluate principals, who review assistant principals.

The EAA has recognized the problems with its evaluations and has worked to correct them since Veronica Conforme was appointed chancellor in November of 2014, Morrow said.

“Those evaluations didn’t contain well-defined performance benchmarks, an issue that was identified during the districtwide review that took place when Chancellor Conforme was appointed,” Morrow said. “A new evaluation system for the administration that better incorporates feedback is being developed to ensure that all EAA staff is evaluated objectively and accurately for their performance.”

Evaluations play a role in determining layoffs as well as merit pay in Michigan.

In 2013-14, 229 of the 232 EAA teachers were given the “effective” rating for their evaluations.

“If school districts want to improve student learning, they’re going to have to get serious about honestly evaluating the performance of their employees,” said Michael Van Beek, the director of research at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “The research is very clear that principals and teachers matter when it comes to boosting student achievement, and, unlike a student’s socioeconomic background, this is something schools have direct control over.”


See also:

Detroit Public Schools Gave 8 of 10 Teachers Highest Rating Despite Being Nation's Worst Urban District

Detroit's Reform District Doesn't Have On Great Teacher According to Evaluations

Teacher Evaluations in Michigan Public Schools: All Size Fits All