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Education Policy Center

Pending Changes to Teacher and Administrator Professional Development and Continuing Education


Mary L. Mason, Education Policy Center at Michigan State University

May 1, 2016

If enacted, the resulting law will impact local and intermediate school districts, charter schools, and the Education Achievement Authority—their teachers, administrators and school boards—and service providers. It will also have implications for teacher and administrator preparation and continuing education programs.”

This brief discusses the following bills as passed by the Michigan House of Representatives on March 3, 2016 and now pending in the Senate:

House Bill 5156 – Professional development for teachers

House Bill 5157 – Continuing education for administrators

House Bill 5158 – Probationary teachers and new administrators

House Bill 5159 – State aid penalty

As part of legislative efforts to improve teacher quality,1 the Michigan House of Representatives recently passed the above four bills2 changing the requirements for teacher and administrator professional development and continuing education. That legislation now awaits consideration by the Senate education committee.

Though required by Michigan law, legislators have indicated that teachers almost universally condemn most professional development as a waste of time.3 The pending legislation aims to bridge that disconnect. If enacted, the resulting law will impact local and intermediate school districts, charter schools, and the Education Achievement Authority—their teachers, administrators and school boards—and service providers. It will also have implications for teacher and administrator preparation and continuing education programs.

Purpose and Goals

The bills were developed in a work group including the House of Representatives, the Senate, the governor’s office, and the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). Legislators have identified three primary problems: first, that professional development is too general and not helpful to individual teachers; second, that some districts ignore the requirement or comply only with the letter, but not the intent, of the law; and third, that there is no enforcement mechanism.

The stated purpose of the legislative solutions is to require more focused and productive professional development, while still allowing local flexibility, and to provide a means of enforcement through greater involvement by the MDE and a financial penalty for noncompliance.4 For administrators, the changes are also to provide extra support for the new teacher evaluation requirements.

During the hearings,5 legislators expressed a desire to support teachers and the teaching profession. They had sought teacher input and described consistent teacher complaints about professional development. Administrators and school boards were blamed for not complying with existing requirements and for poor overall quality. It is not clear whether the input of administrators or school board members was sought when drafting the bills. Representatives of teacher unions and principals associations testified on the bills.

Key Changes (See Appendix A for a more detailed summary of changes.)

The changes apply to administrators and to teachers, with additional changes for probationary teachers. The overarching change is the requirement for professional development (for teachers) and continuing education (for administrators) to be based on an individual professional development plan or, for teachers, the school improvement plan. Offerings would be targeted at the needs of individual teachers and administrators in groups with common needs. To increase focus and flexibility, for teachers the required time is measured in hours rather than days with sessions to be not less than 45 minutes.

Mentors are another focus of change. Administrators would have to have a mentor for the first three years. For teachers, mentors would have to be rated “effective” on at least three of the last five annual evaluations. Further, continuing education for administrators would be required to include specified training on teacher evaluations, collaboration among teachers and administrators, and use of student data.

Finally, an initial penalty is imposed for non-compliance in the amount of 5% of state aid for the year. After notice of noncompliance, the penalty may be eliminated by submitting a satisfactory compliance plan. However, if the plan is not followed, the 5% penalty will be imposed for the next year. The MDE is responsible for creating guidelines to meet all of the requirements and for determining non-compliance and assessing the penalty.

Costs and other Concerns

Because the change from days to hours does not increase the total time required, those costs are not expected to increase and are already covered in district appropriations.6 But the House Fiscal Agency identifies other requirements with potential cost increases for districts, 7 including:

  • increase in the number of separate training sessions;

  • additional substitute teachers;

  • for administrators, new content and additional time for continuing education;

  • mentors for administrators, if hired from outside the district; and

  • reduction of state funding in cases of non-compliance.

Though generally supportive of the bills, those testifying were concerned about uncertainty over the guidelines and implementation. At the time, most neither opposed nor supported the bills while seeking clarification through ongoing discussions with MDE. Most controversial is the 5% state aid penalty. For the most part, those who supported the other bills did not support the penalty bill (HB 5159).8 As a result, the committee made changes that give districts opportunities to avoid the initial penalty by submitting a satisfactory compliance plan. (But the penalty would still be imposed for non-compliance with the plan.) State aid penalties are imposed in other laws—the penalty for hiring uncertified teachers in the amount of the teacher’s salary is an example—but the magnitude of this penalty makes it different. It is indicative of the importance attached to professional development by the majority of the Senate education committee.

The MDE gains a great deal of authority and responsibility in this legislation, with no particular guidance. It is tasked with developing guidelines, working with districts and other providers to implement those guidelines, reviewing and approving or disapproving district plans, determining non-compliance, and assessing penalties. Are the resources—staff, funds, knowledge—available to meet these responsibilities? Together with the likelihood that most districts will see increased costs (as noted above), full compliance may be difficult without additional funds at both the state and local levels.


School districts, including boards, administrators and teachers, are the Legislature’s primary targets. They would have to work more closely with MDE, especially in the early implementation and with new guidelines, to be certain to comply and avoid penalties. Others would also be affected. Teacher and administrator professional development and continuing education service providers, including private providers and higher education institutions, would have to adjust their offerings. And, though not directly affected, the overall philosophy, provisions, and the stated coordinated approach of the legislature to teacher quality mean that teacher education and administrator preparation programs should also pay attention.9

Overall, this package of bills has the potential to greatly improve the relevance and quality of professional development for teachers and administrators. The focus on teachers and their individual and group needs is crucial and welcome. Given the broad responsibility of MDE, the need to work with the varying existing programs and needs of districts across the state, and the potential added costs at both the state and local levels, full implementation may be difficult, especially in the short term.

As of this writing, the Senate education committee has not yet scheduled a hearing on these bills. When it does, interested parties may present written or in-person testimony. In the meantime, comments on these bills may be directed to any of the committee members: Senators Pavlov (chair), Knollenberg, Booher, Colbeck and Knezek.10 Input from interested parties led to changes as the bills were considered by the House committee and can have an effect in the Senate committee as well.


Significant Changes and Additions to Existing Requirements

2016 House Bills 5156, 5157, 5158 and 5159

(See the text of the bills for complete details.11)

  • Teachers and Administrators

    • Professional development and continuing education are to be based on:

      • an individual professional development plan or, for teachers, the school improvement plan, and

      • State Board approved standards for professional learning.

    • MDE is to develop and implement guidelines within 90 days.

  • Teachers

    • All teachers

      • Change days to hours to allow and encourage shorter, more focused sessions.

        • From 5 days/year to 30 hours/year

        • Sessions not less than 45 minutes

      • Sessions specific to groups of teachers

        • Targeted to the common needs of the particular group

        • Best able to benefit from the information

      • Department of Education guidelines to require at least:

        • compliance with requirements for probationary teachers (MCL 38.83a), which include

          • individualized development plans and

          • year-end performance evaluations based on classroom evaluations;

        • that part be embedded throughout the school year: and

        • targeted to a group of teachers based on commonality of needs established in individual development plan or school improvement plan.

    • Probationary teachers (in addition to the requirements for all teachers)

      • Mentor teachers must be

        • rated at least “effective” on at least 3 of last 5 annual evaluations, and

        • meet qualifications established by the state superintendent.

      • Change days to hours

        • From 15 days/year to 90 hours/year over at least 15 days

        • Sessions not less than 45 minutes each day

  • Administrators – superintendent, principal, assistant principal, or other individual whose primary responsibility is administering instructional programs (Changes do not affect chief business officials.)

    • Continuing education is to be based on an individual professional development plan.

    • Requires a mentor for the first 3 years.

    • In addition to existing requirement for a Michigan school administrator’s certificate (MCL 380.1536) and for continuing education, MDE guidelines are to include educational experiences in

      • conducting evaluations of teachers and other administrators, including at least training on

        • evaluation models,

        • practicum experiences using those models,

        • rater reliability, or

        • providing coaching and feedback;

      • methods for improving teacher-to-teacher and teacher-to-administrator collaboration; and

      • interpreting and using student data to improve student learning.

  • Enforcement and penalty

    • Gives MDE authority over enforcement.

    • Establishes a penalty for those districts that do not comply.

      • 5% of total state aid for the year

      • 30 days after notice of noncompliance to submit a compliance plan

      • Penalty is applied if

        • a compliance plan is not submitted on time, or

        • MDE determines that the compliance plan will not correct the violation.

      • Failure to comply with the plan results in forfeiting 5% of state aid for the next state fiscal year (with no provision to avoid this penalty).

Notes and References

1 Representative Yonker noted that these bills are part of a comprehensive plan beginning with the teacher evaluation requirements enacted in 2015 (PA 173) and to be followed by new legislation for teacher preparation programs. Senate Education Committee, January 14, 2016 meeting video,

2 House Bills 5156, 5157, 5158, and 5159 can be found at

3 Statements by Representatives Zemke and Yonker. Senate Education Committee, January 14, 2016 meeting video,

4 House Fiscal Agency, Legislative Analysis of House Bills 5156, 5157, 5158, and 5159, complete to 2-11-16,

5 Hearings on these bills were held on January 14, January 28, and February 4, 2016. Minutes and written testimony are available at:

Video recordings are available at:

6 Senators Yonker and Garcia. Senate Education Committee, January 14, 2016 meeting video,

7 House Fiscal Agency. Legislative Analysis of House Bills 5156, 5157, 5158, and 5159, complete to 2-11-16.

8 At the hearing on February 4, 2016, representatives of both the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals and the Michigan Elementary & Middle School Principals Association indicated opposition to the penalty bill while supporting the remaining bills.

9 According to Representative Yonker, legislation affecting universities is being formulated in consultation with Dr. Ball at the University of Michigan. Senate Education Committee, January 14, 2016 meeting.

10 Contact information for Senate education committee members can be found on the committee website at

11House Bills 5156, 5157, 5158, and 5159 can be found at


Citation of Published Version