Monday, March 06, 2017

ESSA - State of Michigan seeks comments on proposed educational changes

The Michigan Department of Education is seeking public comment on the new proposed ESSA standards that gives schools letter grades (A-F) for success.

On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), reauthorizing the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and replacing the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the 2001 reauthorization of ESEA.
Michigan’s ESSA plan is drafted and open for public comment through March 16, 2017. 

Here is my Email and Comments:

Thank you for asking for Public Comments to the new ESSA Legislation proposed for the state of Michigan.

I have commented over the years on various initiatives the state has proposed but never heard back from one source. Perhaps my comments are not worthy but I will try again from and end-to-end perspective. Basically this means from a "Systems Thinker Perspective." 

My background is both in business and education. I retired from the telecommunications industry where I held a number of Quality related positions. I have been a national director for quality and process improvement, certified auditor, manager and instructor. I have also been a part-time instructor in college as well as an administrator and mentor in a K-12 school.

With so much high level detail in the 153 page document which I have read twice a couple if things jump out at me that I would like to comment (2) on that I hope will be taken in to account.

Overall, I like the concept but implementation is the key and the who and the what are identified but the "How (By What Method)" is where success will lead to failure if not done properly. There is much written about results but not process. Explained below.

I am pleased by the the amount of detail written about the needs of having good teachers and the on-going support required to keep them skilled, excited and hopefully retained for a long period of time.

Concern # 1 -  There is no mention of how are teachers are trained - by this I mean - Who trains/create our teachers? Michigan creates an  "Educator Preparation Institution (EPI) Performance Score Report" -
but I see no mention of it as it relates to this study.

How can there not be a correlation to the suppliers of our most needed resource (Teachers/Principals) to the success of our educational system. Clearly, the number of schools that exceed the "Met Score (Results)" do not translate in to the number of ineffective schools/teachers we have according to the numbers in the state's reports/findings. Nobody wants to take on and really hold the colleges/universities to a higher standard - What a shame.Colleges should not be telling K-12 schools how and what to train. It should be K-12 telling colleges what they need and them doing it or they will no longer higher any of their teachers (Products).

I propose giving the higher level institutions letter grades too as a means to rate their effectiveness for preparing/supplying educators. If you do not correct the upstream process the results will remain the same regardless of the changes you propose in grades K-12. Would you like verification? Survey a number of teachers and ask them if they were prepared for what the classroom is really like?

Concern # 2 - This will be short - I ddi not see much about the people who will rate the schools - I have great concern about the way assessment/accreditation are done.

I have been involved in a number of AdvancED and MANS accreditation and I must say the people conducting them are not trained enough or have the fortitude to make an honest assessment. They are not given the skills and the tools to make good judgments in a 2-3 day period. They follow standards they do not understand. There is no true follow-up and they change their methods so often the previous assessment can not be taken in to account to create a systemic measure to establish trends for proper measurements.

These assessments are much needed but should be done by a team of professional experts and just educators (Many on team are 1st time auditors who are there because their school will soon be audited so they are there to learn). Most teachers/administrators will not criticize their own because they bring in their own feelings and experiences as to what is wrong and are afraid it reflects on them.

 Thank you,