A 5½-year-old federal requirement that calls for staffing most classrooms with “highly qualified” teachers doesn’t appear to be doing much to improve student achievement or make teachers more effective, according to a study released last week by the Center on Education Policy.
Researchers for the Washington-based center surveyed education officials in all 50 states and in a nationally representative sample of 349 districts. While officials in 83 percent of the districts reported that they were fully complying with the teacher-quality provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, few seemed to think it was working.
Officials in two-thirds or more of the districts said the requirement had had little, if any, effect on improving student achievement or in creating a more effective teaching force.
Compliance was spottier at the state level. At the time of the survey—late fall of last year and early winter of this one—only three states said they had staffed 100 percent of core academic and fine arts classes with “highly qualified” teachers. Fourteen more expected to reach that goal by the end of the school year.
In more than half the states polled, state-level officials said the teacher-quality provisions’ impact on student achievement had been small or negligible. Administrators in 19 states gave the same assessment to the impact on raising teacher quality.
Schools’ biggest challenges were finding special education and secondary school mathematics and science teachers who met the federal definition for high-quality teachers, according to the report, “Implementing the No Child Left Behind Teacher Requirements.” The administrators gave more mixed evaluations on whether the mandate had helped promote a more equitable distribution of experienced, qualified teachers among schools.
A version of this article appeared in the August 29, 2007 edition of Education Week