Friday, February 12, 2010
How Does Your State Measure Up?: The NCTQ Report Card
From teachers to taxpayers, I’d say it’s safe to assume that folks are going to be curious to see how their state’s education system did on The National Council on Teacher Quality report card. Unfortunately, most of these folks are about to find out that their state earned a C- or lower in how it handles its teachers.
The NCTQ evaluates each state in five key areas: teacher preparation, evaluation, tenure and dismissal, alternative certification and compensation. Connecticut, where I live and teach, earned an overall grade of D+. New York, where I taught for the first eight years of my career, also earned a D+. I sure know how to pick’em!
Florida’s C was the highest grade overall. Washington, DC squeaked by with a D-. Some say that a D- is the ultimate kindness and it made me wonder if the NCTQ is the teacher too nice to fail any of her kids. Then I read about Montana, Vermont, and Maine.
Connecticut’s highest area of achievement was “expanding the teacher pool” for which we earned a B-. But what good does this do when you get an F in “retaining teachers”? In particular, Connecticut was criticized for not offering incentives like retention bonuses. There was also little compensation for those teachers willing to work in high-needs schools and subject areas. If a special education teacher at a vocational school in New Haven can’t get a break on his mortgage, who does? And if you are a teacher in Connecticut and don’t yet know about Hartford’s inability to fund our pension plan, you are in for a rude awakening. This failure earned the expected grade: F.
It isn’t just The Nutmeg State, though. Nationwide, there are some disturbing trends. For example, 47 states grant tenure “virtually automatically,” meaning that there is no real process; no rubric or set of benchmarks to be met. Can you imagine if high school diplomas were granted that way? Without a requirement for credits and passing grades in order to earn those credits? Believe it or not, only five states require elementary school teachers to take a test in reading instruction.
Mathematicians, shield your eyes… Only one state requires such a test in math instruction.
The state-by-state evaluations are not without their faults, but I applaud the effort at accountability. The analysis does not seem politically-motivated, even if Randi Weingarten isn’t a fan, and the NCTQ does not receive any federal money. Among its many funding sources is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. So, see how your state fared. Let us know how you and your school fit into this bigger picture and if you have any ideas as to how to fix this mess please share!
For a quick look at all of the states: http://www.nctq.org/stpy09/
For in-depth information: http://www.nctq.org/stpy09/reports.jsp
For something related: http://www.publicagenda.org/pages/new-analysis-suggests-teachers-voices-do-not-have-a-strong-influence-policy-agenda