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In new report, California gets ‘D’ in supporting teacher effectiveness

Craig Clough | December 8, 2015

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MaleMathTeacherA new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) finds that not only is California behind most other states and the nation on enacting policies that support effective teaching, but it has also slipped from its already low position of a few years ago.

The 2015 State Teacher Policy Yearbook report, released today, gives California a “D” grade in teacher policies, down slightly from the “D+” it received in 2013 and 2011. Nationally, the average for all 50 states and Washington D.C. was a “C-.”

The report analyzes every state law, rule and regulation on the books in five key areas. Here is how California fared:

  • Delivering Well-Prepared Teachers: D+
  • Expanding the Teacher Pool: D+
  • Identifying Effective Teachers: F
  • Retaining Effective Teachers: C+
  • Dismissing Ineffective Teachers: F
  • Average Overall Grade: D

“With the exception of the state’s commendable efforts to align its teaching standards with the requirements of K-12 college- and career-readiness standards, California falls behind other states on teacher policy,” the group said in a press release.

While the NCTQ board of directors is made up of Democrats, Republicans and independents, the report was funded by organizations such as The Walton Family Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that are strong supporters of a number of polarizing reform policies the report directly touches on, including the controversial Vergara ruling.

In giving the state an “F” in dismissing ineffective teachers, the report makes a direct reference to the Vergara case, in which Judge Rolf Treu struck down the current teacher employment laws that govern seniority, dismissal and layoffs, saying they helped keep ineffective teachers in poor performing schools. The ruling is currently under appeal and has not taken effect.

The report notes that California is one of only eight states that do not require any objective measures of student achievement to be included in teacher evaluations, that teachers are granted tenure after only two years, that the state does not articulate that ineffectiveness as grounds for teacher dismissal and makes no effort to require districts to consider teacher performance (rather than only seniority) in making layoff decisions.

“Nationwide the glass is really starting to look half full on states’ efforts to drive teacher effectiveness through smarter policy,” NCTQ Senior Vice President for State and District Policy Sandi Jacobs said in a statement. “California has not kept pace with the progress being made on teacher effectiveness policy across the country.”

Jacobs was a witness for the student plaintiffs who sued the state and its largest teacher unions in the Vergara case.

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