News Story

Failing School Ranks Every Teacher and Principal 'Highly Effective'

State has Hazel Park schools as failing, but its teachers all get highest marks

Every teacher and principal in the Hazel Park School District's four elementary schools, junior high and high school were given “highly effective” ratings in 2011-12 by administrators despite district-wide failing grades for student achievement.

The state of Michigan gave Hazel Park High School an "F" for student achievement in 2011-12 in all four of the measured subjects — reading, science, social studies and math. Yet every teacher was given the highest rating in the new state-mandated evaluation of teachers.

A state law in 2011 ordered schools to rate teachers and administrators by using one of four ratings: highly effective, effective, minimally effective and ineffective.

Every teacher and principal in the Hazel Park district received the highest evaluation despite student achievement getting an “F” from the state in 10 of the 16 measured categories in the four elementary schools and in the junior high and high schools.

Hazel Park Junior High registered a “C” in reading and was the only school not to get a "D" or "F" among the six buildings.

Shirley Atcho, secretary to Superintendent James Meisinger, said the superintendent had no comment at this time.

Statewide, there were 42 individual school buildings that rated all of their teachers as “highly effective.” Across the state, 97 percent of the estimated 95,000 teachers were rated “effective” or “highly effective.”

Leon Drolet, chairman of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, blamed the legislature for creating an evaluation system with no credibility.

“The legislature has allowed this to come into play,” Drolet said. “It’s probably because they can claim they did something. They can say they raised the bar. As long as the politicians can claim they voted to do that, what happens in reality doesn’t matter to them. This system suits everyone very well except the students and parents. The school district can brag that they are All Stars without having to back it up. And the politicians can crow at election time that the demanded schools be rigorously evaluated. The only losers are the kids because this system appears to suit the needs of the education class and the political class. The only class that suffers are the kids in the classroom. Unfortunately, they come last.”

Michael Van Beek, education policy director at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said the district would hurt morale among truly highly effective teachers.

“It does a disservice to the teachers themselves if the district is not going to differentiate and define what good teaching is,” Van Beek said. “It doesn’t help anyone. Think how insulting it is for a good teacher in that district. They know they are putting in the extra time but are getting the exact same rating as one who may not be good at all. That’s not treating teachers as professionals.”

The Hazel Park school board president and vice president did not respond to requests for comment.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.