This week the National Council on Teacher Quality released the latest edition of its State Teacher Policy Yearbook report, which focuses on the ways states ensure that only prepared teachers enter their classrooms. The report also grades each state on the policy steps they take to promote teacher preparedness.
Although a number of states improved their showing from last year, the states still only averaged a D+ on the full set of their policies. Three states – Alaska, Montana and Wyoming – all received failing grades.
On the flip side, only four states – Alabama, Florida, Indiana and Tennessee – received the report's highest grade, which was only a B-. No state received a rating higher than that.
NCTQ President Kate Walsh said, "With so much attention on the issue of teacher effectiveness, the relative lack of attention to how candidates for teaching are prepared for the job in the first place is puzzling. The Yearbook provides a roadmap for policymakers on how to get teacher effectiveness right from the start – by setting higher expectations for what teachers need to know and are able to do before they are licensed to become teachers. Our teachers deserve the very best preparation so that they can step into the classroom and help our students prepare to be the most successful in the world."
Several states took steps to improve the policies and regulations in order to "deliver well-prepared teachers." Among them were Alabama, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin. The most progress was recorded in in Alabama, Connecticut, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Included in the report are policy ideas for the lawmakers interested in bolstering their teacher quality. One of the suggestions echoes a proposal made by Stephen Sawchuck of EdWeek who called on teacher preparation colleges to embrace the principles of supply and demand and raise their admission standards.
Another suggestion made in the report calls for reworking the curriculum used to train teachers to align it with the Common Core Standards soon to be implemented in the majority of the states.
This year's Yearbook comes in advance of NCTQ's forthcoming (Spring 2013) Teacher Prep Review of the country's higher education-based teacher preparation programs. A key area of focus in both reports is admission standards, and the 2012 Yearbook includes a sneak peek of the Review, which finds that just 556 of the 1,730 percent of undergraduate teacher preparation programs reviewed are sufficiently selective. All others fail to ensure that candidates come from the top half of the college-going population.