The best and worst states for teacher policy

By Meris Stansbury, Associate Editor, @eSN_Meris
February 10th, 2014

Teacher policy report discusses what makes for good teacher policy and which states still have work to do

teacher-policy-NCTQTeacher quality has been a hot, if polarizing, topic in education recently, with many states making what some perceive to be progressive steps in teacher policy. One new report gives grades to states in how well they’re implementing these teacher policies, from teacher preparation to dismissal.

The report, “State Teacher Policy Yearbook,” by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) provides an analysis of every state law, rule and regulation that “shapes the effectiveness of the teaching profession,” it says, from teacher preparation and evaluation, to compensation, professional development (PD) and dismissal policy.

According to the report, states in the U.S., including the District of Columbia, averaged an “improved” C- for their teacher policies in 2013, up from a grade of D+ in 2011 and D in 2009.

“The improvement in the state grades in this year’s [report] proves it is both possible and practical for states to drive teacher effectiveness through smart policies,” said Kate Walsh, president of NCTQ. “Many states once argued that implementing policies such as evaluations of teacher effectiveness, tying tenure and dismissal policies to student achievement, and raising the bar for teacher prep couldn’t be done. Now, these policies are on the books in increasing numbers of states across the nation, helping ensure that all children have effective teachers.

(Next page: The best and worst states; measures)

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3 Responses to “The best and worst states for teacher policy”

Once again, using a business model of evaluating teacher performance through objective student assessment and alternate pathways into teacher licensure does not evaluate a teacher’s expertise. Multi-source growth models are the only effective means for evaluating student growth. Once a year, high stakes, standardized assessments are only one small piece for students and even less for teacher effectiveness. Multiple variables that play into student performance. As far was alternate means to teacher licensure, content knowledge does not always translate into the ability to meet students where they are, where they need to be, what their differentiated needs are, and how to provide individual instruction in a group setting. One size does not fit all. Students are not “widgets”! They’re human beings that come to education with different backgrounds, needs, and abilities.

    You are exactly right. Learning is a process and does not conform to the business model of specific metrics. The statistical value-added model that is presently being used is inexact, inappropriate, and unreasonable in the implications that are being asserted with respect to teacher effectiveness. It’s a red herring. It’s smoke and mirrors. Those who drive the politicalization of education can’t even begin to understand the true nature of learning. They are arguably self consumed by ego, possibly greed, or maybe just ignorant. My fervent wish is that those who perpetuate this harm will be enlightened.

One of the biggest flaws in education as a business model is the failure to recognize the essential differences between students and employees. When employees do not produce, management fires them and hires employees who will produce. When students do not produce, it is the fault of the teacher (manager) who is then at risk of firing or loss in pay.
And the emphasis on test scores has other negative impacts. I see so many excellent teachers who no longer offer the incredible learning experiences they used to because they are so pressured to have students score well on standardized tests. It does take longer to teach Shakespeare when you have the students role play and recreate the scenes from the play. However, those students will understand the play much better and develop a better appreciation of the literature. Those educational experiences fall by the wayside due to the increased content required by the test and the decreased time provided in the classroom.
Another issue is what those tests actually test. Do they test the student’s appreciation and understanding of a literature form? Or does the test ask the students to match synonyms? Is it testing the upper levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy or the lower levels? The upper levels creativity, evaluation, and analysis are hard to measure with a standardized test.