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NCTQ Report Offers Glimpse into Teacher Effectiveness Policies

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The National Council on Teacher Quality (NTCQ) recently released "State of the States 2012: Teacher Effectiveness Policies," which offers a glimpse into changes in K-12 teacher evaluation policy across the country this year. The brief builds off a similar report NTCQ completed in October 2011, "Trends and Early Lessons on Teacher Evaluation and Effectiveness Policies" that I discussed in a previous post. I also provided an update on educator evaluation legislation in January.

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Here are some of NCTQ's latest findings:

Teacher Evaluation
NCTQ's State of the States report cites:

• Since 2009, 37 states have updated their teacher evaluation policies. Alaska, California, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, and Vermont have not made any changes.
• Between October 2011 and October 2012, 15 states made changes to their tenure and/or evaluation policies. While Hawaii, Maine, Oregon, and West Virginia altered policy, they do not require annual evaluations for all teachers. Meanwhile, 24 states require annual evaluations for all teachers compared to the 15 states that had this requirement in 2009. While only 48 percent of states require annual evaluations for all teachers, an overwhelming majority of states (86 percent or 43 states) require annual evaluations for all new teachers.
• Twenty-six states, in comparison to 17 in 2011, now require evaluation rating systems that differentiate by utilizing multiple categories of performance.
• According to the 23 state profiles on page 14 through 25 of the report, 3 states use a 5-scale rating system; 16 states use a 4-scale rating system; Maryland uses 3 levels; and Louisiana law offers two possible ratings. Idaho, on the other hand, lets districts decide, but the state requires that all evaluation systems have at least two possible ratings. And, Minnesota's legislation did not specify evaluation ratings/categories.

The Use of Growth/Achievement Data
Every district and state I am currently working with, and many others across the country, are debating how to incorporate data in teacher evaluations. NTCQ provides an update on the progress of several states in this area.

• Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Tennessee are all using student achievement/growth as the "preponderant factor" in teacher evaluations, compared to the four states who utilized this data in 2009.
• In nine other states, including Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, measures of student achievement/growth are required to "significantly" inform teacher evaluations.

Tenure has been a hot topic in education over the past several months, but I had yet to see much data on changes to tenure policy across the country. The NCTQ report provides information on how long it takes for a teacher to earn tenure in each state.

• In 2009, not a single state awarded tenure based primarily on teacher effectiveness.
• As of October 2012, the average teacher in the U.S earned tenure in a little more than three years.
• Nine states, including Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Tennessee, all require that performance play an integral role in the decision of whether or not a teacher is awarded tenure. Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York consider "some evidence of student learning" when making tenure decisions. NCTQ notes that tenure in the other 34 states is "virtually automatic."

Student-Teacher Linkages
Inaccurate teacher-student linkages threaten the success of all measures. Teachers could be given credit for students they've never taught, or students might be linked to teachers they've never met. When there's a gap between reported class rosters and reality, educators can (rightfully) lose faith in measures. Put another way, linkage ensures that Bobby's math scores are attributed to his 5th grade math teacher and not the other 5th grade math teacher in the building. NCTQ found that while "most states are able to match student records to teacher records, there are some important mismatches between capacity and policy." The report notes that three states currently require teacher evaluations to include student achievement data, but they "appear to lack capacity to link data." At the same time, 12 states have the capacity to link teacher and student data, but do not require teachers to review their data.

Licensure Advancement
NCTQ's report explains that "44 states require teachers to complete general, nonspecific coursework before conferring or renewing teacher licenses." However, "while targeted requirements may potentially expand teacher knowledge and improve practice, the general requirements found in these states merely call for teachers to complete a certain amount of seat time." Also of note:

• Delaware, Louisiana, and Rhode Island are the only three states that require "objective evidence" of effectiveness in confirming licenses as teachers advance. Illinois, Maryland, and New Mexico require some objective evidence of effectiveness to be considered.
• Eight states, including Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New York, and Oregon require a master's degree or equivalent in coursework for professional licensure "despite extensive research showing that master's degrees do not have any significant correlation to classroom performance."
• Alaska, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Utah, and Washington consider teacher performance in licensure decisions, but it is not performance in the classroom.

No matter your position on current education reform efforts, I would encourage all teachers, administrators, union leaders, board members, parents, and other stakeholders to read NCTQ's report. It provides a wealth of information on several key topics being debated in states and districts across the country.

For more resources and information on human capital and data-driven process improvement in education, you can follow me on Twitter, @EmilyDouglasHC.

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