Education: Report grades down California's school




How the nation’s most populous states ranked in teacher preparedness according to the 2017 State Teacher Policy Yearbook:

California: D-

Texas: B-

Florida: B+

New York: B

Pennsylvania: C

To see the full 2017 State Teacher Policy Yearbook go to nctq.org.

For information on each state’s teacher policies go to nctq.org/yearbook/home.

California ranks below 31 other public-school systems and earns just a D+ in ensuring teacher quality, according to a new report aimed at spurring states to improve teacher preparation.

The Washington, D.C.-based National Council on Teacher Quality’s 2017 State Teacher Policy Yearbook evaluated and graded states on teacher preparation, evaluation, compensation and other factors that contribute to successful teaching. Since its last survey in 2015, the nonprofit, non-partisan council found that California and most states stagnated in their progress.

“States’ teacher policies have an enormous impact on the quality of education in the state,” said Elizabeth Ross, the council’s managing director of state policy in a statement on the report’s findings.

In an emailed response Tuesday, California Board of Education President Michael Kirst called the organization that produced the report “an advocacy group with its own arbitrary criteria for state grades.”

“There are other interstate organizations that accredit teachers and university preparation programs,” Kirst said, “and they have different criteria than NCTQ.”

California has resisted efforts to regulate teacher education and to tie teacher evaluations to students’ learning. The state also hasn’t defined what goes into good teaching or teacher training. When the Obama administration two years ago proposed grading credential programs, universities that offer credentialing objected, drawing reformers’ ire.

“The inability of California to name what an effective teacher is creates the conditions where we go round and round,” Tony Smith, former superintendent in Oakland, Emeryville and San Francisco and a regulation backer, said at the time. “One of the key components of effectiveness is that a child makes a year’s growth in a year’s time.”

Representatives of state teachers unions did not respond Tuesday to requests for comment on the report, released Dec. 14.

The council looked at nine policy areas in reviewing the 50 states and the District of Columbia. California earned an F in hiring, in teacher and principal evaluation and in retention of effective teachers. The golden state failed to meet the council’s goal of using student growth to measure teacher effectiveness, or of maintaining data needed for teacher evaluation. The state also did not meet similar goals for ensuring the effectiveness of school principals.


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California has consistently earned a D+ since the council’s first survey in 2009, although it dropped to a D in 2015. In a 2014 council survey of just teacher credential programs, the council rated California universities a D+.

No states earned an A overall. Eight earned Bs, and top scorers Florida and Louisiana each earned a B+. Two states — Montana and South Dakota — earned F’s. While California’s scores are not impressive, 10 states performed in the same range as California, and nine states earned a lower grade.

Among the nation’s other most populous states, Texas earned a B-, New York a B, Pennsylvania a C and Illinois a C+.

But all is not terrible. California earned a B, its highest mark, in teacher compensation — although absolute salary levels do not reflect the high cost of living in pricey areas such as the San Francisco Bay Area. The council praised the state school districts’ practice of offering different pay scales for high-need schools and for teaching particular subjects.

The yearbook also flagged a standout practice in preparing teacher candidates to teaching reading to elementary, secondary and special-education students.

California earned the most needs-to-improve marks in the area of teacher and principal evaluation. Specifically, the council recommended that the state include evidence of student growth in teacher evaluations, require student surveys be part of teacher evaluations and ensure that teacher evaluators are trained and certified.

The council also recommended that California require teachers be evaluated annually and observed multiple times, offer appropriate training and improvement plans for teachers, equitably distribute teacher talent among schools, effectively evaluate principals, and place ineffective ones on improvement plans.

In the past decade, many states focused on improving the teaching profession. Those efforts received a boost by the Obama administration, which pushed hard in particular to improve teaching of poor and immigrant children.

But the council noted that since 2015, few states took initiative to improve how teachers are selected, prepared, evaluated and retained. It’s not clear why progress leveled off, or whether it was linked to the end of the No Child Left Behind Act. That signature law of George W. Bush favored standardized testing and punitive measures to hold schools accountable for teaching the most struggling students.

The council was created in 2000 and has links to education-reform foundations, including some that advocate for “market-style” and standards-based reforms. For its critical evaluations of teacher quality and the credential programs, it has been savaged by teachers, teacher unions and universities’ schools of education — many of which have refused to cooperate with the council’s surveys.

Report card

How the nation’s most populous states ranked in teacher preparedness according to the 2017 State Teacher Policy Yearbook:

California: D-

Texas: B-

Florida: B+

New York: B

Pennsylvania: C

To see the full 2017 State Teacher Policy Yearbook go to nctq.org.

For information on each state’s teacher policies go to nctq.org/yearbook/home.



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