Through the din of cheering, back-patting, and high-fiving
from school-choice advocates over their legislative
successes in 2011
, it’s been hard to hear about states’ recent
improvements to teacher policy
. This fifth edition of the National Council
on Teacher Quality’s report on state teacher-quality policies lends a megaphone
to this cause. (And at more than 8,000 pages—150 pages or more per state—it’s quite the
hefty and detailed
megaphone.) It finds that twenty-eight jurisdictions have improved (on NCTQ’s
) over the past two years. Indiana clocked the greatest gains,
followed by Minnesota and Michigan. Of the states that improved, twenty-four
now consider student achievement as part of teacher evals (up from fifteen in
2009). Thirteen states can now dismiss teachers because of classroom
ineffectiveness and twelve states weigh teacher effectiveness—not just
seniority—in rewarding tenure. In 2009, the highest grade issued was a middling
C (to Florida). This report sees NCTQ’s first B-level grades ever issued:
Top-ranking Florida earned a straight B, while Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and
Tennessee each garnered B-minuses. Mostly good news, but there is yet more to
be done. Even now, just thirteen states allow teachers to be dismissed because
of classroom ineffectiveness. And only twelve weigh teacher effectiveness when conferring
tenure. There’s much more data to parse in each of the states’ individual
reports—and the yearbook’s practical policy recommendations should be
read by all.

2011 State
Teacher Policy Yearbook
(Washington, D.C.: National Council on Teacher
Quality, January 2012.)

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