Rapid modernization surrounding teacher policies has largely slowed in the past two years, with few states initiating new actions to improve policies guiding teacher selection, preparation, evaluation, and retention, according to a new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).
Florida and Louisiana are this year’s top-performing states, each earning a B+, according to NCTQ’s biannual 2017 State Teacher Policy Yearbook. Overall, however, the 2017 Yearbook finds that state grades have mostly stagnated, with more state grades decreasing than at any other time in the Yearbook’s 10-year history. No state has ever earned an A.
From 2007, when NCTQ began tracking state progress, until 2015, many states took aggressive action to improve their teacher policies, including raising the bar for entry into the teaching profession, overhauling teacher evaluation policies, implementing tenure reform, and requiring that districts consider teacher effectiveness when making personnel decisions.
“Our review indicates that a pressing need still exists to tackle anachronistic and counterproductive teacher policies, perhaps because policymakers are paying attention to where the political winds are blowing at the expense of improving teacher quality,” said Elizabeth Ross, Managing Director of State Policy at NCTQ. “Notably, many of these policies are noncontroversial – for example, whether teachers can transfer a teaching license across state lines without unnecessary barriers and whether states are ensuring that special education teachers know how to teach struggling readers. Adopting and implementing new, more effective policies would benefit school districts, teachers, and, most importantly, students.”