WASHINGTON— States are making progress in improving academic standards, student outcomes and teacher effectiveness, but are still moving too slowing, according to national studies on state education policy.
Education Week magazine, the National Council on Teacher Quality and StudentsFirst released reports that grade states on their teacher quality, student outcomes, academic standards and school choice, with the goal of helping policymakers improve school systems.
“We are trying to give policymakers a blueprint or a roadmap,” Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, said Wednesday at a New America Foundation panel discussion that examined how states can improve.
Education Week and NCTQ’s reports focus on student outcomes and teacher quality. The studies have been performed for several years, with states showing improvement consistently.
“One of the things we saw this year … most of the grades were pretty low, then some states leapt right in front and others were incremental,” Jacobs said.
NCTQ’s report found that many states had their highest grades to date with 14 states getting a “B-“ or higher. Only one state, Montana, received an “F” grade. Education Week gave the U.S. a “C+” grade in chances for student success. The Education Week report gave the U.S. a “C-” in terms of K-12 student achievement, up from a “D+” the year before.
These incremental increases show that reports like these are helping the policy landscape. However, that progress is slow.
StudentsFirst’s report gave the nation a “D” in teacher quality and empowering parents by giving them adequate information about their kids’ schools.
“While it’s clear that policy changes will occur, our kids can’t afford to wait,” the StudentsFirst survey said. “Change is still happening much too slowly.”
School governance and spending also were major factors in the StudentsFirst study. The highest grade given in this category to several states was a “C+”.
Eric Lerum, vice president of national policy at StudentsFirst, said the reports show a divide between at-risk students and teacher quality.
“To me the most important question we should be asking is why our kids with the greatest needs aren’t getting the best teachers,” Lerum said.