The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has released its fifth annual comprehensive (an encyclopedic 9,000 pages of analysis packed into 51 state volumes and a national overview report) review of everything there is to know about the state policies that shape the teaching profession today—the 2011 State Teacher Policy Yearbook.
It was a year like no other since NCTQ started the Yearbook project. NCTQ documented more changes in teacher policy than any previous review of the laws and regulations governing the profession.
In this not-so-ordinary year, the nation finds itself just one state shy of half the states requiring that objective measures of student achievement be included in teacher evaluations. More states than ever before are opting to take evidence of teacher effectiveness in the classroom seriously in making decisions about teacher tenure and dismissal.
Largely driven by policy adoption around teacher evaluation, 28 states improved their standing since the last time NCTQ graded the states, in our 2009 Yearbook.
Seven states—Florida, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio—earned the highest grades we've ever handed out. States topping the list for the most progress on teacher policy include Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois and Rhode Island.
But it wasn't an extraordinary year for all the states or for all areas of teacher policy. Some states—Alaska, California, Mississippi, Missouri and Montana—made no progress whatsoever on even a single one of the Yearbook's 36 research-based teacher goals. The not-so-insignificant state of California ranks dead last in the nation on teacher policy progress. The average of all state grades is a mere D plus and the lowest grades of all are for teacher preparation policies, where the states average a D for dismal.