The best and worst states for teacher policy

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)

Meris Stansbury

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