Race and Gender Differences in Teacher Evaluation Ratings

Over the past decade, Michigan has made changes to a number of laws related to teachers and teaching in the state’s public school system. These changes include new requirements for teacher evaluation, and the use of teacher performance ratings for decisions such as teacher tenure, dismissal and retention. Since 2011, state law has required local education agencies (districts) to rate teachers as highly effective, effective, minimally effective or ineffective. These ratings must be based on classroom observations and, for most teachers, a measure of achievement growth for students assigned to each teacher. Since 2016, state law has also required districts to adopt valid and reliable classroom observation protocols, and new training for teacher evaluators.

In this brief, authors from the Education Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC) examine differences in teacher evaluation ratings in schools across the state from the 2011-12 through the 2015-16 academic years. They pay special attention to differences in ratings between male and female teachers, White teachers and teachers of color, and teachers in traditional public schools and public school academies (PSAs, or charter schools). These comparisons are important because evaluation ratings can significantly affect teachers’ job security, and because the overall supply of teachers in Michigan—and especially of Black teachers—has declined considerably over the decade.


  • Statewide, nearly 19% of Black teachers in Michigan received a low rating from 2011-12 to 2015-16, compared to just 7% of White teachers.
  • Teachers of color—especially Black teachers—are 50% more likely to receive low evaluation ratings than White teachers within the same school.
  • Teachers of color in schools with high numbers of White teachers are more likely to receive low ratings.
  • Male teachers are more likely than female teachers to receive low ratings.
  • First-year teachers more likely to receive lower ratings than more experienced teachers.
  • Teachers in charter schools are more likely to receive low ratings than those in traditional schools.
  • Teachers rated below effective are more likely to leave their school after receiving their rating; low-rated teachers of color are not more likely to leave than low rated White teachers.
  • Colleagues matter:
    • Black teachers are less likely to receive low ratings in schools with higher percentages of Black teachers.
    • Male teachers are less likely to receive low ratings in schools with male administrators.

For more, see https://epicedpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/race_and_gender_policy_brief4WEB.pdf