A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

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Seniority No Longer Supreme For Teacher Recalls

Blanket 'effective' rating no longer works for Muskegon, other districts having to layoff and recall teachers

All of Muskegon Public Schools' teachers will receive a layoff notice and will be called back based on their performance not their seniority, according to an article on MLive.

However, the district may have a problem trying to figure out which teachers to keep because of how it has conducted its teacher evaluations.

For the 2011-2012 school year, 91 percent of its teachers were rated as "effective," according to the Michigan Department of Education. There were 299 teachers rated as "effective," 19 teachers rated as "highly effective," four teachers rated as "minimally effective," and five teachers rated as "ineffective."

In an email, Muskegon Public Schools Superintendent Jon Felske referred to the state law that mandates that all schools must evaluate its teachers. Felske didn’t address how the district would differentiate between teachers it has rated “effective” when determining who gets called back from layoff.

Principals in the district are in the process of evaluating their teachers for this school year and the results could be drastically different than last year given the layoff situation and the state law. Previously, teachers were recalled from layoff based on seniority.

Muskegon is not the only district to have high numbers of teachers given the same evaluation rating.

For example, Hazel Park School District rated every one of its teachers and principals as "highly effective" despite district-wide failing grades for student achievement. 

"Failure to differentiate among teachers based on performance is not just a problem in Muskegon, it's an issue statewide," said Michael Van Beek, education policy director at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. "To be fair, this is brand new territory for nearly all schools, but if they honestly want to improve the quality of teaching they offer students, they cannot continue to rubber-stamp these evaluations."

Out of 95,000 public schools teachers in Michigan, less than 1 percent of them were rated "ineffective" last year.

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See also:

Less Than 1 Percent of Michigan Teachers Rated 'Ineffective'

Failing School Ranks Every Teacher and Principal 'Highly Effective'

Failing Schools Able to Mark Themselves Up to a Passing Grade

State Gives Failing Schools Perfect Grades For Paperwork

State Says Schools in "Distress" Are Making "Adequate Yearly Progress"

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