The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released its bi-annual 2017 State Teacher Policy Yearbook, finding that states’ previous rapid progress to modernize their teacher policies has largely slowed. Between 2015 and 2017, Georgia’s overall grade for its teaching policies stayed flat at a B-grade. By comparison, during this time period the overall grade nationally also stagnated, staying at a C- grade.
From 2007 until 2015, most states took aggressive steps to improve the teaching profession. However, since the last edition of the Yearbook in 2015, few states have initiated any new actions to improve their policies guiding how teachers are selected, prepared, evaluated, and retained. As a result, state grades have mostly stagnated, with more state grades decreasing than at any other time in the Yearbook’s history.
This year, among all 50 states and the District of Columbia, just six states earned a higher grade than Georgia, five states performed as well as Georgia, and 39 states earned a lower grade. Florida and Louisiana both earned B+ grades, the highest in this year’s Yearbook.
“States’ teacher policies have an enormous impact on the quality of education in the state,” said Elizabeth Ross, Managing Director of State Policy at NCTQ. “By highlighting opportunities for improvement, as well as strong policies, this Yearbook is designed to catalyze state action. We know the progress states are capable of making and urge them to do so. Teachers and students deserve nothing less.”
Georgia has a few key opportunities to improve. In its 2017 Yearbook, NCTQ reported that the state earned an F grade in Special Education Teacher Preparation and a D in Elementary Teacher Preparation. The state’s high grades were B grades in Alternate Route Teacher Preparation and in Teacher and Principal Evaluation.
The Yearbook designated Georgia a “Best Practice” state in four areas:
● Student Teaching, for requiring that cooperating teachers be selected based on evidence of effectiveness, that the clinical practice experience be full time and last at least 10 weeks, and that candidates for licenses with broad grade spans be required to have experience in at least two different developmental grade levels;
● Middle School Content Knowledge, for requiring that middle school teachers pass a rigorous single-subject content test;
● Data Systems Needed for Evaluation, for its adequate definition of teacher of record, process in place for teacher roster verification, capacity to link student-level data and teacher performance, and publishing of teacher mobility data; and,
● Layoffs, for requiring evidence of effectiveness to be the most important factor districts use when determining which teachers to lay off during reductions in force.
The full 2017 State Teacher Policy Yearbook is available here, with comprehensive information regarding each state’s teacher policies available in NCTQ’s State Teacher Policy Database.