FARMINGTON, Mich. – In a week and 1/2 Michigan's public schools will open.
The classrooms are being prepared across the state. This school year won't be too much different for the students, but it will be for the teachers.
In Farmington, teachers knew they had a choice: Fight or get involved. Teachers union board member Jeff Danziger said they got involved by taking the penalties out and putting more of the fairness in.
"It absolutely should not be punitive and when people feel that it is, you run into a different set of issues in building them to be the professionals to be for our students and community," Danziger said.
Dr. Michelle Harmala worked with more than 100 Farmington teachers to come up with what they call the Farmington Model, a test program to help teachers prepare for the new evaluations system.
"I tell my staff this is 'problitunity,'" she said. "They studied the legislation and then said, 'Wow, this is really powerful.' It could be about teacher growth, not just trying to decide who is effective and who is not."
Farmington came up with a two-tiered plan: 1. They are attacking the required elements of the MEAP for elementary and middle schools, the ACT for high schools and the Michigan Merit Exam for the 11th grade students and their teachers. 2. They also worked out a selected group of subjects allowing for what they call common assessments for less-testable subjects such as art and drama.
"It's a way to give everybody a chance to grow and become the best teacher and help the students sitting in front of them learn as much as possible," Danziger said.
The test programs are ongoing and it's likely that by this time next year the state will move forward with the program.