The Michigan Merit Curriculum and Teacher Compositional Change

October 2012
Susan Dynarski, Brian Jacob, Kenneth Frank, Barbara Schneider

In the spring of 2006 the state of Michigan enacted the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC) with the intent to increase the rigor of student course-taking, improve student performance, and increase college matriculation rates. This policy brief focuses on corresponding changes in the composition of teachers in Michigan high schools from the time period prior to the introduction of the MMC to after implementation. Because schools were required to offer more rigorous coursework for students, they may have also needed to hire more teachers to teach the new courses or otherwise respond to the demands of the reform. Our goal is to understand how schools have managed the changing human resources requirements associated with the MMC as a way to contextualize other findings about changes in student course-taking, academic performance, and variation in district outcomes. To answer these questions, we use state administrative data from the Registry of Educational Personnel (REP) about teacher hiring and personnel assignments from 2004 to 2011.1 Following convention in the literature, we report student-teacher ratios in this brief. However, it is important to note that while these ratios represent statewide access to different kinds of teachers, they do not indicate actual class sizes.

We thank Elizabeth Covay for being a contributing author of this paper.

We thank the following researchers for their outstanding contributions to these analyses: Quentin Brummet, Paul Burkander, Hassan Enayati, Kaitlin Obenauf, Elizabeth Quin, and Guan Saw.

We thank our partners at the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and Michigan’s Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI) for providing the data used in these analyses: Thomas Howell, Venessa Keesler, and Joseph Martineau. We are also grateful to these data analysts for answering numerous questions and providing outstanding assistance: Trina Anderson, Rod Bernosky, Melissa Bisson, Laurie Campbell, Oren Christmas, Karen Conroy, Mike House, Carol Jones, and Mike McGroarty.

Finally, we thank Christina Mazuca and Julie Monteiro de Castro for excellent project management.