Unsatisfactory Evaluations: Michigan

2011 Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy


The state should articulate consequences for teachers with unsatisfactory evaluations, including specifying that teachers with multiple unsatisfactory evaluations should be eligible for dismissal.

Nearly meets
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Unsatisfactory Evaluations: Michigan results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/MI-Unsatisfactory-Evaluations-10

Analysis of Michigan's policies

Michigan requires local districts to put teachers on "individual development plans" if they receive an ineffective or minimally effective rating on the annual year-end performance evaluation. Teachers have 180 days to demonstrate progress toward individual development goals.

The state's new evaluation policy requires that "if a teacher is rated as ineffective on three consecutive annual year-end evaluations, the school district, public school academy or intermediate school district shall dismiss the teacher from his or her employment." 


Recommendations for Michigan

Make eligibility for dismissal a consequence of unsatisfactory evaluations.
Teachers who receive two consecutive unsatisfactory evaluations or have two unsatisfactory evaluations within five years should be formally eligible for dismissal, regardless of whether they have tenure. While Michigan has taken steps in the right direction, the state should adopt a policy that ensures that teachers who receive such unsatisfactory evaluations are eligible for dismissal. 

State response to our analysis

Michigan was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. The state noted that all teachers rated as ineffective receive individualized development plans and that all probationary teachers automatically have a yearly IDP. The state added that while three ineffective evaluations results in dismissal, "less than three can also result in dismissal." 

Michigan also pointed out that a teacher with one ineffective evaluation must show progress within 180 days and have a mid-year progress report as well as an end-of-year evaluation. The state concluded that "dismissal is definitely a consequence of unsatisfactory evaluations in Michigan."

Last word

NCTQ agrees that Michigan has a strong policy in place that makes dismissal a consequence of unsatisfactory evaluations. However, while the intent of the new legislation might be to stipulate that a teacher can be eligible for dismissal after less than three consecutive ineffective evaluations, the current policy is vague on this front. NCTQ encourages the state to consider clarifying this policy to ensure that two unsatisfactory evaluations make a teacher eligible for dismissal. 

How we graded

Negative evaluations should have meaningful consequences.

Teacher evaluations are too often treated as mere formalities rather than as important tools for rewarding good teachers, helping average teachers to improve and holding weak teachers accountable for poor performance. State policy should reflect the importance of evaluations so that teachers and principals alike take their consequences seriously. Accordingly, states should articulate the consequences of negative evaluations. First, teachers that receive a negative evaluation should be placed on improvement plans. These plans should focus on performance areas that directly connect to student learning and should list noted deficiencies, define specific action steps necessary to address these deficiencies and describe how progress will be measured. While teachers that receive negative evaluations should receive support and additional training, opportunities to improve should not be unlimited. States should articulate policies wherein two negative evaluations within five years are sufficient justification for dismissal.

Employment status should not determine the consequences of a negative evaluation.

Differentiating consequences of a negative evaluation based on whether a teacher has probationary or nonprobationary status puts the interests of adults before those of students. Ideally, weaknesses and deficiencies would be identified and corrected during the probationary period; if the deficiencies were found to be insurmountable, the teacher would not be awarded permanent status. However, in the absence of meaningful tenure processes based on teacher effectiveness, limiting significant consequences to the probationary period is insufficient. Any teacher who receives a negative evaluation, regardless of employment status, should be placed on an improvement plan, and any teacher who receives multiple negative evaluations, regardless of employment status, should be eligible for dismissal.

Research rationale

To review the process and types of personnel evaluations observed in other job sectors, including the problems inherent to some evaluation systems see, for example, Gliddon, David (October 2004). Effective Performance Management Systems, Current Criticisms and New Ideas for Employee Evaluation in Performance Improvement 43(9), 27-36.