Days of Reckoning: Are States and the Federal Government Up to the Challenge of Ensuring a Qualified Teacher for Every Student?
Phyllis McClure, Dianne Piché, William L. Taylor
Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights
This report by the D.C.-based Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights (CCCR) criticizes federal and state governments for shirking No Child Left Behind's teacher quality provisions. These provisions require two basic things: 1) all teachers of core academic subjects must be "highly qualified" by 2006, and 2) states and districts must ensure that poor and minority pupils have equal access to qualified teachers. CCCR examined U.S. Department of Education site-visit reports from forty states in 2004. The commission concludes that states' compliance with the HQT provisions was woefully inadequate that year. The authors allege that "many states provided highly suspect and misleading data during the early years of the law, claiming that virtually all of their teachers had already met the law's goals with regard to teachers' qualifications and their equitable distribution to schools." In reality, no state was even close to meeting the requirements. (One of the study's authors wrote as much here.) The report also blames the Department and the Bush Administration for waiting a full four years after NCLB's passage to begin enforcing teacher quality provisions. And even Secretary Spellings's recent tough talk on highly qualified teachers doesn't satisfy these critics, who rue the Department's decision to allow states showing "good faith" an extra year to achieve compliance. The authors make eleven recommendations for raising teacher quality, organized into four general categories: transparency and open records, data quality, fostering innovation, and enforcement. These are all fine as they go, but they don't address the fundamental problems with the HQT provisions in the first place--namely their reliance on teacher certification and their wimpiness when it comes to subject-matter knowledge (see here). You can find the report here.