News Bite

Link Teacher Pay To Quality? But Annual State-Required Ratings Fail To Separate Best

Michigan’s public school establishment and teachers unions have long resisted efforts to reward superior teachers with higher pay. Many school districts have defied or undermined a state law that requires some form of merit pay for above-average teachers.

A nonprofit called The Education Trust-Midwest generally promotes views and policies that are closely aligned with status quo public school interests. But in a new report, the group says, “Many studies indicate that increased pay . . . improves teacher retention,” and that when combined with other workplace improvements, it “increases the likelihood of hiring effective educators.”

The document includes an anonymous quote from a person at the Hope Academy, a Grand Rapids school, to reinforce the claim:

“If you keep losing teachers because you can’t pay teachers equitably, you will have poor or low-quality instruction as a result. Guess what? It's systemic. The issue of teacher pay is not going to go away. The state plays a key role in cultivating and developing a climate where teacher pay remains at the forefront of the educational process. If not, we will not have a strong system where teachers will want to come and stay.”

According to year-end performance evaluations that school districts are required to perform for every instructor, Michigan has no shortage of excellent teachers.

In 2018-19 (the most recent full year of teacher evaluation data), 41% of the state’s teachers were rated as “highly effective” while 58% received the second-highest rating of “effective.”

Just 1% of teachers were rated as “minimally effective,” and the number in the lowest category of “ineffective” (just 201) is so small that it computes statistically at 0%.

From 2014-15 to 2018-19, the percentage of teachers in each year rated as “highly effective” was 42%, 42%, 39%, 40% and 41%.

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.