By Victor Skinner

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan’s teacher evaluation system is still worthless.

The latest state data on teacher evaluations conducted last year makes that abundantly clear.

“The new state data find that about 97 percent of the state’s 96,000 teachers were rated effective or highly effective during the 2011-12 school year – the first year districts had to assign one of four ratings to teachers,” the Detroit Free Press reports.

In other words, only three percent of Michigan teachers were rated “minimally effective” or “ineffective,” the lowest two categories.

The results defy logic, especially for the state’s worst schools.

“… (Forty-eight) of the state’s priority schools – so named because they are in the bottom 5 percent academically – rated all of their teachers in the top two categories. Several said all of their teachers are highly effective,” according to the Free Press.

State officials told the newspaper the evaluation results weren’t unexpected, and should change “once there’s a more common system and a common measurement.”

Parents and taxpayers have been waiting for a better system for decades.

But fear not, the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness is developing a statewide system for evaluations, although schools aren’t required to use it. Individual districts can still create their own evaluation systems.

Unfortunately, that means school districts across the state will be forced to discuss the details of the process with local teachers unions, which typically try to avoid teacher accountability like the plague.

Teachers unions in Michigan and across the country have a long documented history of fighting proposals to use student performance as part of the evaluation process – a component we believe is critical.

In Scranton, Pennsylvania the local teachers union recently threw a fit – and passed a resolution of ‘no confidence’ in district administrators – because they had the gall to conduct unannounced classroom observations.

The bottom line is teachers unions don’t care what the new evaluation system is. If it involves closer scrutiny of their members, they will do anything in their power to fight it.

So far, they’ve done a bang-up job.

On paper, 97 percent of Michigan’s teachers are top-notch. That’s how it’s been for decades.

And next year it will be the same story, if the teachers unions have anything to say about it.