The State of Michigan established the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan (EAA) during school year (SY) 2011–12 to function as a local education agency (LEA) that assumed the administrative operation of 15 of Michigan’s lowest 5 percent of persistently low-performing (PLP) schools. EAA designed the Pay for Excellent Performance (PEP) performance-based compensation system (PBCS) to award classroom-level teacher and schoolwide principal student achievement growth incentives, as well as compensation for demonstrated skills and knowledge, assuming additional responsibilities, and working efficiently in hard-to-staff schools. EAA anticipates operation of 48 schools from across the state of Michigan over the next five years.
EAA's PEP project goals are to: (1) improve student achievement by increasing teacher and principal effectiveness, (2) reform teacher and principal compensation systems so that teachers and principals receive rewards for increases in student achievement, (3) help ensure the ability to attract and retain effective educators, and (4) create and set up a sustainable PBCS.
EAA's PEP program evaluation will include both formative and summative assessments and will measure factors such as teacher and principal effectiveness, the number of teachers teaching in high-need ields/subjects, their respective performance levels, and the number of participating schools that use the results of PEP to make school-level human capital management system (HCMS) decisions. The evaluation will also assess the extent to which the schools implement the PEP project with fidelity.
In September 2012, EAA took over 15 (3 charters and 12 direct-run) schools from Detroit Public Schools. The 12 direct-run schools participate in the Teacher Incentive Fund-Pay for Excellence Performance program. The EAA piloted its teacher and principal evaluation systems, which included at least two formal observations and four performance levels for overall district evaluation ratings, of which a significant part is based on student growth. EAA provided more than 150 hours of targeted professional development to all educators. Each EAA school also provided focused instructional support and professional development to staff that did not meet the standards outlined in the evaluation rubrics. Additional training included content area (math, reading, science, social studies, and English language arts) instructional strategies, evaluation, rater-reliability, coaching, and learning management systems--PD 360, Observation 360, and BUZZ Teaching Learning Platform. The EAA provided all educators with an electronic portfolio to capture their personal goals and objectives; manage their professional development activities; gain access to real-time feedback from walkthroughs and observations; and collaborate in local, national, and international professional learning communities.
In 2013-14, the EAA maintained the 15 schools from Year 1--12 direct-run and 3 (non-participating) charter schools. The EAA successfully moved two schools from the bottom 5 percent of low-performing schools, based on Michigan's Top to Bottom list. The EAA expended $386,568 in 2013-14 grant funds for targeted instructional and leadership supports, mentor teams to build capacity, and on-demand and job- embedded professional development to retain many of these educators.
The EAA experienced a change of leadership in November 2014 with the appointment of Chancellor Veronica Conforme. One of the first projects by the new Chancellor was listening to teachers' concerns with the current educator evaluation system. She enlisted their feedback and support to design a new system going into 2015-16. Along with the new educator evaluation system, there were several other changes made, which led to an announcement of new strategic priorities in the summer of 2015. The TIF grant would be redirected to support these new initiatives and would be led by Associate Chancellor, David Donaldson.
The recently announced strategic priorities have been welcomed with open arms as the district set a vision that had been lacking in the past. Teachers are optimistic that their voices are being heard and considered with the new initiatives. The EAA has launched a new teacher evaluation system, career pathways, which includes a master and lead teacher positions and a Chancellor's Teachers Council.
EAA uses the summary ratings from the district-, board-, and state-approved evaluation system to determine PEP eligibility. This overall rating must be Highly Effective or Effective in order to be eligible for PEP. The PEP 2012-13 and 2013-14 rubric include three categories: Student Growth (35 percent or up to $3,500), Observed Practice (50 percent or up to $5,000), and Professional Growth (15 percent or up to $1,500). These components will also be revised in 2014-15 to align with changes to the teacher and principal district evaluation goals and objectives for implementation in the 2015-16 school year.