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Majority of States Improved Teacher Policies in 2013


1/30/2014

NCTQ report finds continued policy improvement in Illinois and Indiana, modest gains in Minnesota.

In 2013, 31 states made significant progress to strengthen policies that shape the teaching profession and improve teacher effectiveness. That’s one key finding from the 2013 State Teacher Policy Yearbook – an annual study released by National Council on Teacher Quality that grades all 50 states and the District of Columbia on policies that govern many dimensions of teaching, including teacher preparation, recruitment, evaluation and effectiveness, retention, and dismissal. The Joyce-supported report found that states averaged a grade of “C-“ for teacher policies, up from a “D+” in 2011 and a D in 2009. NCTQ observed a “seismic shift” in state policy with regard to states’ progress on evaluating teachers in the classroom and leveraging of teacher effectiveness measures to inform personnel decisions. Key Findings with Implications for Teacher Effectiveness:

  • Twenty-eight states now require, without exception, annual evaluations of all teachers (compared to 15 states in 2009).
  • Thirty-five states now require that student achievement is a significant or the most significant factor in teacher evaluations (compared to just 4 states in 2009 and 17 states in 2011).
  • Twenty states now require that student performance is factored into the decision to grant teachers tenure, a significant boost since 2009 when NO state tied objective evidence to tenure.
  • Twenty-nine states articulate that classroom ineffectiveness is grounds for a teacher’s dismissal, compared to just 13 states in 2009.
  • Eighteen states are using performance information (rather than time on the job alone) to make better staffing decisions when, and if, layoffs become necessary (up from 11 states in 2011).

Individual state reports indicate steady progress in Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota – states in which the Joyce Foundation invests and its grantees work to improve teacher quality. 

Indiana: Indiana is ranked in the top 10 states with strong teacher policies overall, with a B-. In addition to requiring that all teachers be evaluated annually, the state’s policies for performance pay and salary scales, and provisions that make performance the top criterion to determine layoff decisions were highlighted as national best practices. The report indicates that induction support for new teachers and alignment between professional development and findings from teachers’ evaluations are significant areas for improvement.   

Illinois: Illinois is nationally ranked among the top third of states overall, earning a C+. It leads on evaluating and identifying effective teachers, and it serves as a national exemplar for incorporating classroom performance in dismissal and layoff decisions, and providing mentoring to new teachers. NCTQ identified retention of effective teachers, along with the failure to differentiate pay based on teacher performance, as the state’s primary policy weaknesses.     

Minnesota: Nationally, Minnesota’s teacher policies rank in the middle of the pack, earning a C-, as the state is making modest gains in creating policies to improve teacher effectiveness in the classroom, including provisions that allow districts to participate in the state’s performance pay program. Although in 2014 the state will have developed a teacher evaluation system with the capacity to provide evidence of teacher effectiveness, not all teachers are required to be evaluated annually, nor are tenure decisions connected to evidence of teacher performance. In addition, ineffective classroom performance is not grounds for dismissal, and seniority, rather than a teacher’s performance, is the primary determinant for making decisions to lay off teachers during reductions in force. In addition to grading each state, NCTQ offers concrete policy recommendations to strengthen state laws and regulations, and the organization provides resources to states to develop policies that strengthen the teaching profession to improve the quality of classroom instruction and student performance.  

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