Tenure : Michigan

Identifying Effective Teachers Policy


The state should require that tenure decisions are based on evidence of teacher effectiveness.

Best Practice
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Tenure : Michigan results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/MI-Tenure--8

Analysis of Michigan's policies

Commendably, Michigan has discontinued its policy of automatic tenure. The state now bases the leap in professional standing from probationary to nonprobationary status on evidence of classroom effectiveness. 

Michigan's recently passed tenure legislation has increased the probationary period for new teachers to five years. The state also now articulates that a teacher has not successfully completed this probationary period unless he or she has been rated as effective or highly effective on the three most recent annual performance evaluations. 

Further, teachers who are rated ineffective on three consecutive annual evaluations are dismissed.

Because Michigan's teacher evaluation ratings will be centered primarily on evidence of student learning as of the 2015-2016 school year (see Goal 3-B), basing tenure decisions on these evaluation ratings ensures that classroom effectiveness will be appropriately considered. 


Recommendations for Michigan

State response to our analysis

Michigan recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

Research rationale

Numerous studies illustrate how difficult and uncommon the process is of dismissing tenured teachers for poor performance. These studies underscore the need for an extended probationary period that would allow teachers to demonstrate their capability to promote student performance.

For evidence on the potential of eliminating automatic tenure, articulating a process for granting tenure, and using evidence of effectiveness as criteria for tenure see D. Goldhaber and M. Hansen, "Assuming the Potential of Using Value-Added Estimates of Teacher Job Performance for Making Tenure Decisions." Center for Reinventing Public Education. (2009).  Goldhaber and Hansen conclude that if districts ensured that the bottom performing 25 percent of all teachers up for tenure each year did not earn it, approximately 13 percent more than current levels, student achievement could be significantly improved. By routinely denying tenure to the bottom 25 percent of eligible teachers, the impact on student achievement would be equivalent to reducing class size across-the-board by 5 students a class.

For additional evidence see Robert Gordon, et al., "Identifying Effective Teachers Using Performance on the Job," Hamilton Project Discussion Paper, Brookings Institute, March 2006.