Spanning a manageable 2,000 pages, this sixth edition of the National Council on Teacher Quality’s (NCTQ’s) annual teacher-policy yearbook focuses attention on states’ teacher-preparation policies (one of five areas tracked by NCTQ as part of this initiative). And, once again, NCTQ finds them wanting. Across the items investigated (including the rigor of admission requirements in teaching programs, student-teaching expectations, and accountability systems linked to the performance of prep programs’ alumni when they reach the classroom), the U.S. averages a D-plus. Only four states earn respectable marks (still a meager B-minus): Alabama, Florida, Indiana, and Tennessee. Three others (Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming) earn Fs. Looking closely at specific policies is even more depressing: Just three states (Indiana, Minnesota, and Tennessee) require high school teachers to pass content-area tests in their subjects without allowing loopholes (most of which are for math and science teachers). And Texas is the only state that norms its admissions exam to the general college-bound population (all others norm it to the prospective teaching population, setting a lower bar than for other college and university students). Still, NCTQ acknowledges that states are slowly moving in the right direction. In 2007, when the organization began scrutinizing these data, no state held its prep programs accountable for the quality of their graduates; today, eight do. And since 2011, fourteen states (including Ohio) have improved their teacher-preparation policies in some way. Kudos to NCTQ for continuing to spotlight one of education reform’s greatest ironies: that the work to improve the teaching profession often is done without thought to improving the quality of the folks we admit into it in the first place. Look for more from them in the spring with the release of their Teacher Prep Review. (Indeed, if you can’t wait, this year’s policy yearbook offers a few “sneak peeks.”)
SOURCE: National Council on Teacher Quality, 2012 State Teacher Policy Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: National Council on Teacher Quality, January 2013).