News Story

Detroit Public Schools Gave 8 of 10 Teachers Highest Rating Despite Being Nation's Worst Urban District

79 percent of DPS teachers rated as 'highly effective' which is twice the state average

When Gov. Rick Snyder recently proposed creating a new school district organization to serve Detroit schoolchildren, he cited a “lack of educational success” and “failing academics” and pointed out that Detroit is the “nation’s lowest performing urban school area.”

However, the Detroit Public School district's most recent evaluations of its own teachers paint a picture of success in 2013-14. The district gave 8 out of 10 teachers the highest evaluation possible — “highly effective.”

Starting with the 2011-12 academic year, school districts have been required by state law to report on their teachers, classifying each into one of four different categories of effectiveness: highly effective, effective, minimally effective and ineffective.

According to data filed with the Michigan Department of Education, 2,542 DPS teachers (79 percent) were rated “highly effective,” 541 teachers (17 percent) were rated “effective,” 73 teachers (2 percent) were rated “minimally effective,” and 52 teachers (2 percent) were rated “ineffective.”

The percentage of teachers rated highly effective by DPS was twice the state average of 38 percent in 2013-14, the latest year statewide data is available.

“Detroit Public Schools administrators seem to believe they have twice as many highly effective teachers as the statewide average,” said Audrey Spalding, the director of education policy for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “And yet DPS is in academic and financial array. How can the state justify taking $50 from each Michigan student to bail out DPS when the district won’t even acknowledge that its teachers are underperforming?”

Snyder’s plan to reform schools asks that the state fund a new school district at a cost of $72 million a year. According to an analysis by the Citizens Research Council, the proposal would cost each school district in the state about $50 per pupil.

Jennifer Mrozowski, spokeswoman for Detroit Public Schools, said the district has been working on improving its evaluation tools since they were first used in 2011-12.

"DPS teachers are a passionate, hard working group of individuals dedicated to providing the students of Detroit Public Schools with the a quality education," Mrozowski said in an email. "Our teachers face a multitude of issues such as poverty, homelessness, and hunger that affect their students' ability to learn and achieve academically. That being said, the state of Michigan has mandated teacher performance evaluation, and DPS is in compliance with that mandate."

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.