Teaching Profession

Teacher Quality Might Be More Elusive Than Cited

By Bess Keller — November 12, 2003 2 min read

A study suggests that many states’ own perspectives on how close they are to meeting the federal requirement for a “highly qualified” teacher in every classroom is a little too rosy, and that significant policy changes may be required to meet the goal.

“Meeting NCLB Goals for Highly Qualified Teachers: Estimates by State from Survey Data” is available from the Council of Chief State School Officers. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

The study from the Council of Chief State School Officers, in Washington, looks at data from a federal survey of 60,000 public school teachers conducted in the 1999-2000 school year to gauge how many teachers in grades 7-12 are highly qualified in the subjects they teach.

Called the Schools and Staffing Survey, it drew on a representative sample of teachers in each state, who were asked to report on whether they held full certification for the subjects they taught and had college majors or the equivalent in those subjects.

Those criteria are the two primarily used to define a highly qualified teacher in the No Child Left Behind Act and were employed in the study to measure how far states had progressed by 2000 in putting such teachers in secondary school classrooms. For each state, the report estimates the percentage of secondary teachers who are fully certified and have majors in their subjects.

Downward Trend

While the states are able, under the law, to establish other criteria that substitute for a college major, tallies of teachers who meet the two primary criteria allow states and subjects to be compared on a roughly equal footing, according to the study.

It is also possible to look at trends in teacher qualifications over time because the same data were collected in the 1993-94 school year, the author, Rolf K. Blank, writes.

Looking at the proxy data, Mr. Blank concludes that “only about two-thirds of secondary teachers in science and math would meet the current NCLB criteria of highly qualified.” The rate is higher in English and particularly social studies, according to the research.

Only Arkansas, Minnesota, and Rhode Island, for instance, had more than 85 percent of their math teachers with both full certification and college majors or minors. In science, just four states—Minnesota, Idaho, Iowa, and New Jersey—had more than 85 percent with those qualifications.

That picture contrasts somewhat with that drawn from data on teachers provided by the states themselves under the federal law. Those figures for all 50 states were made public for the first time last month.

A majority of states said at least four out of five classes in all the core subjects were taught last year by highly qualified teachers. (“States Claim Teachers Are ‘Qualified,’” Oct. 29, 2003.) Some experts observed then that those figures made meeting the federal mandate for teachers seem imminently achievable in most states.

What’s more, the figures from the two federal surveys used by Mr. Blank show that in all four academic subjects, the proportion of highly qualified teachers “did not improve in the majority of states during the 1990s.” The reasons, he writes, may include growth in enrollments, increases in teachers per student, and decreases in class sizes, sometimes mandated under state law.

Given the downward trend for the proportion of teachers with both qualifications, the paper says, “the prospect of states meeting the standard of highly qualified teachers set by NCLB ... appears very difficult to accomplish.” To do so, Mr. Blank adds, most states will need to take significant policy actions.

Events

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Embracing Student Engagement: The Pathway to Post-Pandemic Learning
As schools emerge from remote learning, educators are understandably worried about content and skills that students would otherwise have learned under normal circumstances. This raises the very real possibility that children will face endless hours
Content provided by Newsela

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Teachers Walk Off the Job at Chicago’s Urban Prep
With just two weeks left to the school year, teachers went on strike over what they say is a lack of support for special education students.
Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune
3 min read
Images shows hand drawn group of protestors.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Teaching Profession Opinion Compassion Fatigue Is Overwhelming Educators During the Pandemic
Educators need acknowledgment and healing while dealing with their own and others' grief. Here’s what administrators can do to help.
Shayla Ewing
5 min read
Illustration of empty shirt and cloud
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Teaching Profession Is It Time to Relax Teacher Dress Codes?
After teaching at home in comfortable clothes, some school and district leaders support casual attire for teachers returning to classrooms.
4 min read
Illustration of clothes on hangers
Getty
Teaching Profession Opinion I Started Teaching During the Pandemic. Here's What I Learned
What’s it like launching a teaching career over Zoom? Kindergarten teacher Alicia Simba reflects on an unusual first year in the profession.
Alicia Simba
4 min read
Illustration of paper figures connected in a line.
JamesBrey/E+