Distributing Teacher Talent Equitably:
Michigan

2017 General Teacher Prep Programs Policy

Goal

The state should publicly report districts' distribution of teacher talent among schools to identify inequities in schools serving disadvantaged children. The bar for this goal was raised in 2017.

Nearly meets

Analysis of Michigan's policies

School-level data about teacher performance: Michigan provides Educator Effectiveness Snapshots, which provide evaluation ratings for all teachers at the school level. Aggregate numbers and percentages are provided regarding the four possible evaluation ratings: highly effective, effective, minimally effective, and ineffective.

Annual teacher absenteeism rate: Michigan does not make available annual teacher absenteeism rates reported for the previous three years, disaggregated by individual school.

Additional data provided: Michigan provides, at the school level, complete longevity reports. However, the state does not provide an "Academic Quality" index for each school that also includes factors such as:

  • The percentage of first- and second-year teachers employed as teachers of record at a certain date;
  • The percentage of teachers on emergency credentials; and 
  • The percentage of effective teachers disaggregated by student subgroup, by school, and by teaching area.

Citation

Recommendations for Michigan

Report the annual teacher absenteeism rate.
Michigan should publicly report the annual teacher absenteeism rate as a three-year average. A strong reporting system that reflects effectiveness data along with data on teacher absenteeism can lend much-needed transparency to those factors that contribute to staffing instability and inequity.

Publish other data that facilitate comparisons across schools.
Michigan should collect and report other school-level data that reflect the stability of a school's faculty, including the percentage of first- and second-year teachers employed as teachers of record at a certain date and the percentage of teachers on emergency credentials.



State response to our analysis

Michigan recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it also reports aggregated data on equitable distribution of educator talent [number of classes taught by highly qualified (HQ) status based on the schools' poverty and minority status]. 

How we graded

7F: Distributing Teacher Talent Equitably 

  • Teacher Performance Data: The state should make aggregate school-level data about teacher effectiveness publicly available, consistent with applicable privacy constraints.
  • Teacher Absenteeism Data: The state should make aggregate school-level data about annual teacher absenteeism rates, reported as a three-year average, publicly available, consistent with applicable privacy constraints.
  • Teacher Characteristics Index: The state should provide a publicly available Teacher Characteristics index for each school that, consistent with applicable privacy constraints, includes research-based factors associated with teacher effectiveness, such as:
    • Percentage of first- and second-year teachers
    • Percentage of teachers on emergency credentials
    • Percentage of effective teachers, disaggregated by school, student subgroup, and teaching area
Teacher Performance Data
One-half of the total goal score is earned based on the following: 

  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if it makes aggregate school-level data on teacher performance publicly available, consistent with applicable privacy constraints.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will be eligible for one-quarter of a point if data on teacher performance is publicly reported only at the district level, consistent with applicable privacy constraints.
Teacher Absenteeism Data
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it publicly reports aggregate school-level data on annual teacher absenteeism rates for the previous three years, consistent with applicable privacy constraints.
Teacher Characteristics Index
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following: 

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it provides a Teacher Characteristics index for each individual school that, consistent with applicable privacy constraints, includes at least one factor, for example: the percentage of first- and second-year teachers employed as teachers of record; the percentage of emergency credentialed teachers; the percentage of effective teachers disaggregated by student subgroup, school, and teaching area.

Research rationale

Distribution data on teachers across schools should show more than just teachers' years of experience and highly qualified status. Transparency is one of the most important tools states have to promote the equitable distribution of teachers within and across higher and lower-need schools and districts.[1] States generally publicly report little more than what is mandated by federal requirements, which highlight years of experience and highly-qualified status. However, while teaching experience matters, the benefits of experience are largely accumulated within the first few years of teaching.[2] School districts that try to equalize experience among all schools are overestimating its impact. There is no reason why a school with many teachers with only three or five years' experience cannot outperform a school with teachers who have an average of more than 10 years' experience.

For this reason, states need to report data that are more informative about a school's teachers. As more states require evaluation systems based primarily on teacher effectiveness, the most important distribution data that a state can make available is school-level data about teacher performance. This is not to say that individual teacher ratings should be reported, but school level data would shine an important light on whether all students have access to effective teachers.

In addition to performance data, states and districts should also track and report school-level teacher absenteeism rates. When a teacher misses ten or more days of school, the decline in student achievement is often proportionate to the differences in achievement seen between students taught by a new teacher compared to those taught by a teacher with two to three years of experience. Further, studies have found that teachers serving low income and minority students have higher absence rates, on average, which may contribute to the achievement gap. In fact, it is well-documented that these averages are not representative of the bulk of teachers, as 16 percent of teachers account for almost one-third of teacher absences.[3]

States can also provide meaningful information by using an index for quantifying important teacher credentials found to correlate with student achievement. A good example of a strong index is the academic capital index developed by the Illinois Education Research Council, incorporating teachers' average SAT or ACT scores, the percentage of teachers failing basic skills licensure test at least once, the percentage of teachers on emergency credentials, average selectivity of teachers' undergraduate colleges, and the percentage of new teachers.[4] These factors are complicated, so the state should install a system that translates them into something more easily understood, such as a color-coded matrix indicating a high or low score for a school.

States need to report data at the level of the individual school. Only by achieving greater stability in the staffing of individual schools can districts achieve the nation's goal of more equitable distribution of teacher quality. A strong reporting system reflecting effectiveness data and the index described above, as well as data on teacher attrition, teacher absenteeism, and teacher credentials, can lend much-needed transparency to those factors that contribute to staffing instability and inequity.

The lack of such data feeds a misconception that all high-poverty schools are similarly unable to retain staff because of their demographics. Yet, staff stability actually varies considerably across schools with similar numbers of poor and/or minority children. Within-district comparisons are crucial in order to control for as many elements specific to a district as possible, such as a collective bargaining agreement (or the district's personnel policies) and the amount of resources.


[1] For comprehensive review of the literature on teacher quality and distribution, see: Rice, J. K. (2010). The impact of teacher experience: Examining the evidence and policy implications (Brief No. 11).  National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research. Retrieved from http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/1001455-impact-teacher-experience.pdf; For more about how poor and minority children do not get their fair share of high-quality teachers, see: Feng, L., & Sass, T. R. (2017). Teacher quality and teacher mobility. Education Finance and Policy, 12(3), 396-418. Retrieved from http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/EDFP_a_00214?journalCode=edfp; Sass, T. R., Hannaway, J., Xu, Z., Figlio, D. N., & Feng, L. (2012). Value added of teachers in high-poverty schools and lower poverty schools. Journal of Urban Economics, 72(2), 104-122.; Peske, H. G., & Haycock, K. (2006). Teaching inequality: How poor and minority students are shortchanged on teacher quality: A report and recommendations by the Education Trust. Education Trust. Retrieved from
http://www.edtrust.org/dc/press-room/press-release/teaching-inequality-how-poor-and-minority-students-are-shortchanged-on-t; Education Trust also produced an analysis of the first set of state Equity Plans that pointed out the inadequacies of most states' data systems to produce reliable information about teacher qualifications and experience levels in schools disaggregated by poverty and racial composition of schools. Although almost all states were required to resubmit their plans and earned approval for them, many of the shortcomings of state data systems remained. For example, few states are equipped to identify by school, teachers' years of experience, meaning they cannot identify the ratio of new teachers to the full school staff. See: Education Trust. (2006). Missing the mark: States' teacher equity plans fall short. Retrieved from  https://edtrust.org/resource/missing-the-mark-states-teacher-equity-plans-fall-short/
[2] For more about teachers' effectiveness in the early years of teaching, see: Gordon, R., Kane, T. J., & Staiger, D. O. (2006). Identifying effective teachers using performance on the job (The Hamilton Project Policy Brief No. 2006-01). Brookings Institution. Retrieved from http://www.brookings.edu/views/papers/200604hamilton_1.pdf; See also: Rice, J. K. (2003). Teacher quality: Understanding the effectiveness of teacher attributes. Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute.
[3] Nithya, J., Waymack, N., & Zielaski, D. (2014, June). Roll call: The importance of teacher attendance. National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from https://www.nctq.org/dmsView/RollCall_TeacherAttendance
[4] For an example of a teacher quality index, see: White, B. R., Presley, J. B., & DeAngelis, K. J. (2008). Leveling up: Narrowing the teacher academic capital gap in Illinois. Illinois Education Research Council. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED502243.pdf