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PA Receives 'C-' In Teacher Effectiveness Policies

A “C-” typically isn’t a grade you’d run home to put on the fridge, but Pennsylvania is doing just that.

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) Thursday released its seventh annual report on teacher effectiveness policies, and Pennsylvania made the jump from a “D+” to a “C-.”

The “State Teacher Policy Yearbook” measures effectiveness in delivering well-prepared teachers; expanding the teacher pool; identifying effective teachers; retaining effective teachers; and dismissing ineffective teachers.

The average grade across all 50 states is a “C-.”

NCTQ Vice President Sandi Jacobs said teacher effectiveness is becoming increasingly important in faculty decisions.

“Across the country we see states and districts taking the information that they’re getting from teacher evaluations about teacher performance and connecting it to decisions about tenure, to decisions about licensure advancement to professional development and compensation,” she said.

Pennsylvania is one of 28 states that requires annual educator evaluations and is one of 35 that factors student achievement into the evaluations. Although Pennsylvania is one of 29 states that has stated classroom ineffectiveness is grounds for teacher termination, the commonwealth received its lowest grade, a “D-,” for its policies on dismissing ineffective teachers.

Jacobs said the study also found that preparation standards have increased in the state, but there’s still room for improvement.

“We need to look first at teacher preparation and make sure that we’re giving teachers the tools they need before they enter the classroom,” she said. “And states set all the requirements for teacher preparation programs and set the requirements for licensure, so states really have a lot of influence.”

Pennsylvania is one of seven states that require a 3.0 minimum GPA for admission to teacher training programs. But the state falls short in reading instruction tests for teachers, and the study suggests a state content test should be required for all secondary educators in every subject they are licensed to teach to ensure effectiveness.

The report also finds teacher recruiting and retaining lags in almost all states. Pennsylvania does not require all teachers receive feedback from evaluations, but the state does require improvement plans for teachers with poor ratings. The commonwealth is also one of 26 states that does not support performance pay.

Jacobs said Pennsylvania is on the right track with its teacher evaluation requirements.

“Implementing that system well and then using the information in ways that really support effective teaching is going to be key to move forward on these policies,” she said.

The Erie, PA native has been a fellow in the WESA news department since May 2013. Having earned a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Duquesne University, he is now pursuing an M.A. in multi-media management. Michael describes his career aspiration as "I want to do it all in journalism."
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