For decades, individual teacher compensation levels in Michigan public schools have been set with no consideration of “outputs” — concrete measures of whether students actually learned anything. Instead, pay is based on various “inputs” with no proven relationship to student learning — government certifications, number of pedagogy degrees, years on the job, etc.

This will begin to change under reforms passed last year. New laws require schools to measure and reward teachers based on student learning gains, their classroom performance, and other things parents actually care about.

Legislation now under consideration in the House Education Committee (House Bill 4645 and House Bill 5013) would go further by eliminating some burdensome requirements the state still imposes on new teachers. Among these are “continuing education” mandates that force teachers to spend hours on additional training of dubious value (except to the trainers and colleges who collect their tuition payments).

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Research has consistently demonstrated just how much teachers matter to improving student learning — and just how little certification and pedagogical degrees contribute to this goal. For example, a 2006 survey conducted by Stanford and Amherst economists failed to find a single study (of 34 different high-quality studies) that could find any statistically significant positive relationship between teacher education/certification and student performance.

Based on the research, policymakers would do no harm by removing these needless mandates. With the shift toward rewarding and paying teachers based on "outputs" instead of “inputs,” it makes sense to leave it up to teachers themselves to decide whether they want additional training. Under a performance-based system, if this training actually helps teachers boost student learning, they’ll have financial incentives to pursue it.

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