The best and worst states for teacher policy (continued)

The five states that received the top scores, ranging from B+ to B-, are Florida (the highest-scoring in the nation), Louisiana, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Arkansas. The five states that received the worst scores, ranging from D to F are Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, Vermont, and Montana (the worst-scoring in the nation).

Many of the policies that gave the top-scoring states an advantage are policies that are quickly gaining traction in states across the country:

  • Annual evaluations for all teachers: In 2013, 28 states require, without exception, annual evaluations of all teachers.
  • Significant use of student growth data in teacher evaluations: In 2013, 35 states require that student achievement is a significant—or most significant—factor in teacher evaluations (compared to just 4 states in 2009 and 17 states in 2011).
  • Tying teacher performance to tenure and other personnel policies: In 2009, not a single state awarded tenure based on “objective evidence of teacher effectiveness,” says the report; in 2013, 20 states now require this measure.
  • Dismissing ineffective teachers: 29 states now have in writing that classroom ineffectiveness is grounds for a teacher’s dismissal, compared to just 13 states in 2009.
  • Factoring performance into layoffs: Today, 18 states are using performance information (rather than time on the job alone) to make better staffing decisions when, and if, layoffs become necessary, up from 11 states in 2011.

Many states are also placing higher expectations on what teachers need to know and are able to do before they are licensed to become teachers, explains the report.

For example, spurred by Common Core, 19 states now require elementary teacher candidates to pass subject-matter tests that separately measure adequate knowledge in each core subject they teach. Not one state had this requirement in 2009.

(Next page: Areas for improvement)

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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.