While it is easy to poke holes at some of the National Council on Teacher Quality's seemingly ideologically-driven work (such as, I believe, its excessive focus on teacher pensions), much of its state policy analysis has a strong foothold in research and is one of the most comprehensive and regular analyses of state teacher policies. Like it or not, there is an increasing alignment between the NCTQ's scorecard and that employed by the U.S. Department of Education in the Race to the Top competition. The entire report should not be dismissed because of who they are (or are perceived to be). States should feel challenged by some of the analysis within the Yearbook and should consider looking to the "best practice" states identified under some of the metrics.
Here's a brief summary of the report's findings:
- State teacher policies are "broken, outdated and inflexible."
- Evaluation and tenure policies take too little or no account of classroom effectiveness. 47 states "allow tenure to be awarded virtually automatically."
- States are "complicit" on keeping ineffective teachers in classrooms. Only 1 state separates dismissal policy for poor performance from criminal and moral violations.
- Few states provide robust enough alternate routes into teaching.
- States' requirements for elementary teacher, middle-school teacher and special education teacher preparation are inadequate.
- There is too little accountability for teacher preparation in state policy. Only 5 states set minimum standards for teacher preparation program performance.
- States "cling to outmoded compensation structures," including the single salary schedule.
I won't beat this horse any further today, but check out these past posts for greater substance on what I'm getting at here with regard to the inadequate focus on the developmental needs of new and veteran teachers:
Race To The Top: Under The Hood
RttT: Redefining Teacher Effectiveness
Measurement Is Not Destiny
In other news, experts are doubting the likelihood of a 2010 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, so these state teacher policies with an added dose of Race to the Top reforms is likely to be where it's at over the next year plus.