Report Shows Best and Worst State-Level Policies that Affect Teacher Quality

A new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality shares a detailed analysis of policies enacted at the state level that impact teacher effectiveness.

by / December 8, 2015

The National Council on Teacher Quality has released its ninth annual State Teacher Policy Yearbook. The 294-page report, made public on Dec. 8, includes a state report card, analysis of each state, and nationwide trend data on the quality of the nation's teachers and the programs that create them.

Florida ranked highest on the report with a grade of B+. Montana earned the lowest score with an F for the fourth year in a row. Overall, states are improving the quality of their teachers: In 2009, no state earned a grade higher than a C, but in 2015, 13 states earned grades between B- and B+.

States on an upswing include Delaware, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina and Utah. States that lost points on their score this year include Alabama, California, Colorado, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Rhode Island also lost ground, but still earned a respectable B-.

The bottom five states for teacher quality according to the report are Alaska, Nebraska, Montana, South Dakota and Vermont.

The report concludes that states have a lot of work left to do. The average state grades across all areas of analysis is C-.

The report takes into account a vast array of factors that include things like tenure, dismissal policies, accreditation standards, special education licensing, layoff policies, the role of seniority, pay rates and teacher education level requirements.

The report breaks its analysis into five areas that assess how states are faring in:

  • delivering well-prepared teachers;
  • expanding the pool of teachers;
  • identifying effective teachers;
  • retaining effective teachers; and
  • exiting ineffective teachers.

The average score across all states for each of the five areas is C-.

Each of the five areas is separated into a series of goals. For instance, the area of delivering well-prepared teachers consists of goals like only providing teacher preparation programs to candidates with strong academic records, for which Delaware, Rhode Island and West Virginia are the best-practice states; ensuring teacher preparation programs provide teachers with a broad liberal arts education so they can provide a foundation for college- and career-readiness; and ensuring that teachers know the science of reading instruction, for which California is a best-practice state.

The 2015 State Teacher Policy Yearbook can be downloaded for free from the National Council on Teacher Quality website.

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