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Pennsylvania Nabs C- Grade For Policies On Teacher Effectiveness

National Council on Teacher Quality

  Pennsylvania can do a lot more to bolster the effectiveness of its teachers, according to a report released earlier this month from the National Council on Teacher Quality.

The group's annual "yearbook" found state policymakers' efforts have remained steady over the past three years and on par with the national average. The report focuses on five areas: how teachers are prepared, expanding the teacher pool, policies for effective teachers, retention policies and dismissal policies.

“This year we gave Pennsylvania a C-, which is also the average grade across all 50 states,” said Sandi Jacobs, senior vice president for state and district policy with NCTQ.

The grade is an improvement from its initial D+ in 2009, the first year the organization compiled and released report cards. Pennsylvania’s grade rose to C- in 2013, where it has remained.

“Pennsylvania, like most other states, has considerable room for improvement for making sure that the policy framework that underpins the profession is really as solid as it could be to set teacher up for success,” Jacobs said.

The five categories considered received the following grades:

  • Delivering well-prepared teachers          C-
  • Expanding the teacher pool                     C+
  • Identifying effective teachers                  C+
  • Retaining effective teachers                     D
  • Dismissing ineffective teachers              D-

The report card reiterates that in Pennsylvania teachers can be fired for ineffectiveness and that how well they perform is tied to tenure, but also found that teachers are given tenure almost automatically after three years without taking into account their performance. Under current law, tenure status is also transferable to future professional positions in other in-state public school districts.
Overall, Jacobs said states should be looking at helping teachers before they even step into the classroom.

“States have put a lot of attention over the last few years on issues like teacher evaluation and teacher tenure and focusing on teachers in the classroom with less attention on teacher preparation and making sure that we’re setting teachers up to be successful from the beginning,” she said.

Jacobs emphasized that the report card looks at the state’s laws, polices, rules and regulations, not individual teacher performances.

Deanna fell in love with public radio in 2001, when she landed her first job at an NPR station: KRWG-FM in Las Cruces, NM, where she also attended college. After graduating with a degree in journalism and mass communications, she spent a summer in Washington, D.C. as an intern at NPR's Morning Edition. Following that, she was a reporter/All Things Considered Host at WXXI in Rochester, NY. Before coming to Pittsburgh, Deanna was the local All Things Considered host for KUNC in northern Colorado. In her spare time, Deanna enjoys watching movies and TV shows on DVD (the Golden Girls and Little House on the Prairie are among her favorites), bicycling, yard work, and reading.