NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

States Get Low Marks On Upgrading Teachers

November 16, 1999

A group led by noted education expert Chester Finn reports that states have done a poor job of improving their teachers. The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation surveyed efforts in 49 states and gave them an overall grade of D-plus, based on 29 indicators of policy and practice.

In the foundation's report, "The Quest for Better Teachers: Grading the States":

  • Only Texas and Florida were granted A's.
  • Seven states got B's -- California, Colorado, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and North Carolina.
  • Thirteen states flunked altogether, and Oregon and the District of Columbia did not participate.
  • The group found that principals in 21 states are allowed permanent tenure -- making it nearly impossible to replace them even if their schools fail.

Only two states -- Mississippi and New Mexico -- permit ineffective teachers to be replaced easily. In every other state, tenure makes firing difficult.

Only six states prohibit teachers from teaching out of their field. In the rest, teachers may teach outside the subjects in which they have been trained and licensed.

Source: Tamara Henry, "States Get D+ on Efforts to Make Teachers Better," USA Today, November 16, 1999.


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