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Topic: Who should teach? The states decide.
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
Who should teach? The states decide.
Posted: Jan 15, 2000 12:53 PM
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From Education Week, Volume XIX, Number 18, January 13, 2000, pp. 8-9
[Executive Summary]
Note: Quality Counts 2000, the fourth annual 50-state report by Education
Week, looks at one of the most critical questions in education: What are
states doing to attract, screen, and keep good teachers? The answer, based
on the most exhaustive survey of state teacher policies to date: Not enough.
To order one copy of Quality Counts 2000, go to: where you can order by the
internet. If you prefer, you may fax your order to (301) 280-3250, or call
(800) 346-1834. Quantity discounts are available. Call (800) 346-1834 to
order more than 10 copies


Sidebar -- States are not doing enough to attract, screen, and retain
competent teachers.

Who Should Teach? The States Decide

Good teaching matters. Savvy parents have long known this, and research is
confirming it. With U.S. schools needing to hire about 2 million teachers
in the next decade, the push is on to make sure that the people who take
those jobs are qualified to teach to the higher academic standards now
expected of students.

Quality Counts 2000, the fourth annual 50-state report by Education Week,
looks at one of the most critical questions in education: What are states
doing to attract, screen, and keep good teachers? The answer, based on the
most exhaustive survey of state teacher policies to date: Not enough.

Despite universal agreement that teachers should have basic literacy skills
and know the subjects they teach, Quality Counts found states playing an
elaborate shell game. While they set standards for who can enter the
profession on the front end, most keep the door cracked open on the back
end. As a result, millions of students sit down every day before
instructors who do not meet the minimum requirements their states say they
should have to teach in a public school. And far too many teachers who have
acquired basic credentials are not receiving the training, support, and
encouragement they need to remain-and grow-in their profession. For example:

Thirty-nine states require prospective educators to pass a basic-skills
test. But 36 of those states have loopholes that allow at least some people
to teach who have failed such exams.

Twenty-nine states require high school teachers to pass tests in the
subjects they plan to teach, and 39 require them to have a major, a minor,
or an equivalent number of course credits in their subjects. Yet all of
those states, except New Jersey, can waive those requirements, either by
granting licenses to individuals who have not met them or by permitting
districts to hire such people.

The situation is even worse for middle school teachers. Fewer than half the
states expect middle school teachers to earn secondary licenses in the
subjects they plan to teach. The rest allow them to use "generic"
elementary school certificates. Only nine states require all middle school
teachers to pass tests in their subjects.

Moreover, even licensed teachers are often assigned classes for which they
have not been trained, a practice known as "out of field" teaching. Eleven
states do not require special permission for teachers to spend part of the
day teaching outside their areas of expertise. Only 22 states have the
authority to penalize schools or districts for having out-of- field
teachers, such as by revoking accreditation or cutting state aid. Only one
state requires notification of parents when their children are taught by
out-of-field teachers. And no state has published information about
out-of-field teaching on school report cards for the public.

Quality Counts 2000 also looked at the incentives states offer to attract
bright college graduates into teaching. It found that most such incentives
are weak and rarely focus on the schools or subjects where teachers are
needed most.

Only Massachusetts offers "signing bonuses" to lure talented people into
teaching. Maryland will begin doing so next school year.

Twenty-seven states have scholarship or loan-forgiveness programs for
prospective educators. But only 18 target such programs to specific
shortage fields, such as math and science. Only 10 aim those programs at
candidates who are willing to work in urban or rural schools, schools in
impoverished neighborhoods, or low-performing schools.

Forty states have programs that provide an accelerated pathway into
teaching, particularly for career-switchers and liberal arts graduates. But
with the exception of California, New Jersey, and Texas, such alternative
routes serve few comers.

Twenty-seven states have Web sites that list teacher vacancies in their
states, but most do not require all districts to participate. Only nine
permit teachers to submit résumés, job applications, or related personnel
information electronically.

Beyond such shortcomings in the "pipeline" for beginning teachers, states
are not doing nearly enough to help teachers reach their full potential as
educators and to keep them from quitting the profession.

A special study conducted for Quality Counts, based on data from the U.S.
Census Bureau, found a growing salary gap between public school teachers
and other college graduates.

Teachers ages 22 to 28 earned an average $7,894 less per year than other
college-educated adults of the same age in 1998. The gap is three times
greater for teachers 44 to 50, who earned $23,655 less than their
counterparts in other occupations.

The gap is worst among those with master's degrees ages 44 to 50. Teachers
in that category earned $43,313 in 1998, compared with $75,824 for
nonteachers-a difference of $32,511.

From 1994 to 1998, the average salary for master's-degree holders outside
teaching increased 32 percent, or $17,505, after adjusting for inflation;
the average salary for teachers with master's degrees increased less than

Moreover, salaries alone won't keep teachers in the classroom, and studies
show that far too many leave the profession within the first five years.
Many states have induction programs that give new teachers support and
advice from more experienced colleagues. But while 28 states have laws that
require or encourage districts to offer such programs, only 19 states
require districts to provide that help to all beginning teachers; of those
states, only 10 foot some or all of the bill.

Though 27 states require principals or other individuals to observe and
evaluate beginning teachers, only four states require that the evaluations
be conducted by a team that includes someone outside the school. And only
Connecticut and New York require novice teachers to pass a
state-administered performance assessment.

Together, these piecemeal policies and lackluster incentives steer people
away from teaching. The result is a teacher pipeline that more closely
resembles a leaky faucet.

For Quality Counts 2000, Education Week conducted a special analysis of the
first federal study to follow college graduates into the workplace.

Based on that analysis:

Nearly half (49 percent) of the 1992-93 college graduates who prepared to
teach while in school had never worked in a K-12 public school four years

At every step of the way, the less academically able chose teaching, as
measured by college-entrance exams. Both those who prepared to teach as
undergraduates and those who went on to do so were less likely to have
scored in the top 25 percent on such tests than their peers who chose other

Of the college graduates who began teaching by 1993-94, nearly one in five
had left within three years.

The brightest novice teachers, as measured by their college-entrance exams,
were the most likely to leave.

Poor working conditions contribute to the high turnover. Teachers who did
not participate in an induction program, who were dissatisfied with student
discipline, or who were unhappy with the school environment were much more
likely to leave than their peers.

This year's edition of Quality Counts also continues to chart the progress
-- or lack of progress -- toward education improvement in the 50 states. In
addition to the analysis of teaching policies, here is what Education
Week's reporting found:

Achievement- Seven states posted significant gains from 1992 to 1998 in the
percentage of 4th graders reading at the "proficient" level or above on the
National Assessment of Educational Progress: Colorado, Connecticut,
Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, and Mississippi.

Standards, Assessments, and Accountability-Every state but Iowa has adopted
academic standards in at least some subjects, and 44 have standards in all
four core areas.

The number of states that administer tests matched to their standards in at
least one subject climbed from 35 in 1997-98 to 41 this school year. The
number of states that test whether students are meeting standards in all
four of the core academic subjects rose from 17 to 21. Less movement
occurred on the accountability front. For example, while California added
monetary rewards for successful schools, Oregon and South Carolina killed
funding for such programs.

School Climate- Since last year, three more states have passed laws
permitting charter schools. And 29 states now allow parents to shop among
public schools within a district or across the state. But few states have
made noticeable gains in increasing parent or student involvement.

Resources-Forty-three states increased their per-pupil spending from 1997
to 1998. In 38 of those states, the increase was large enough to at least
keep pace with inflation. Twenty-two states increased per-pupil spending by
more than 5 percent, and eight had gains of more than 10 percent.

Quality Counts 2000 is divided into two sections. "Who Should Teach?"
focuses on our theme for this year. "The State of the States" looks at
student performance and more than 75 indicators of the health of each
state's public education system. State-by-state updates relate state policy
changes in education over the past year.

-The Editors
Quality Counts is produced with support from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618) 453-4244
Phone: (618) 453-4241 (office)
(618) 457-8903 (home)


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