As any parent knows, teachers matter.  A teacher’s effectiveness has more impact on student learning than any other factor controlled by school systems, including class size, school size, and the quality of after-school programs—or even which school a student is attending. In Michigan, our teachers often do not get the support or professional development they need and deserve. Research shows our brightest teachers are not evenly distributed across different schools and districts.  Low-income and minority students—the very students who could benefit most from our very best teachers—are typically taught by a disproportionate share of our least able teachers. This teacher quality gap contributes mightily to our student achievement gap.

To tackle this issue in the Great Lakes State, Michigan must address its fragmented and incoherent teacher policies.  Our state lacks an organized set of policies, systems, and practices that focus on improving teacher effectiveness — from preparation through recruitment, placement, compensation, strong professional development and reliable evaluation.   Our state needs to build the overdue systems and standards needed to ensure teachers are reliably, meaningfully evaluated and supported.  This work will require years of leadership at the state level, and a commitment among educators across our state.


Published: June 24, 2011