NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 21, 2004

The No Child Left Behind Act requires states to certify 100 percent of their teachers as "highly qualified" by next year, particularly in high-poverty areas.

But many promising urban teachers often work for a few years and then leave for a variety of reasons. Therefore, high-risk schools are more likely to employ inexperienced teachers and teachers who are not fully certified either in general or specific subject matter.

Those left behind are the same teachers who are expected to meet the No Child Left Behind goal for every student in the country, observers say. According to many education policy experts, we have the wrong people, trained in the wrong ways, using the wrong teaching methods.

In addition to concerns about teachers' abilities, education schools seem to be doing little to prepare teachers to deal specifically with low-income and minority students, students who do not speak English well, and students with disabilities -- the three types of students who struggle most to succeed in U.S. schools.

  • According to an Education Department study, 82 percent of teachers said they taught students with disabilities, but only 31 percent had received eight or more hours of training in the last three years on how to teach special-education students.
  • About 40 percent of teachers said they taught students who spoke English poorly, but only 12 percent said they had received recent training to help the students.

"If you want qualified teachers and support professionals, you need resources to recruit and retain, develop and train," National Education Association President Reg Weaver said. "All teachers want their kids to learn," says Lew Soloman, executive president and a teaching expert at the Milken Family Foundation. "They just don't know how to do it."

Source: Brian Friel, "No Teacher Left Behind," National Journal, September 11, 2004.


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