Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Wagging Finger of Shame Points at OSPI

Per this post over at The Education Wonks, Washington State has gotten scolded by the Department of Education for failing to meet the highly qualified mandates of NCLB. From the article:

Not a single state will have a highly qualified teacher in every core class this school year as promised by President Bush's education law. Nine states along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico face penalties.

The Education Department on Friday ordered every state to explain how it will have 100 percent of its core teachers qualified _ belatedly _ in the 2006-07 school year.

In the meantime, some states face the loss of federal aid because they didn't make enough effort to comply on time, officials said.

They are Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina and Washington, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

The DOE sent a letter to every state talking about the perceived shortcomings in their highly qualified teacher plans; you can find them here. The letter has its own inherant flaws, though. Consider this:

It is vital that all students, especially those in schools that are not currently making adequate yearly progress (AYP), have access to highly qualified and effective teachers. States should be thinking creatively about new approaches, such as differentiated teacher compensation or new incentives to attract content-area professionals into teaching, to attract effective teachers into our neediest schools and should include those approaches in their revised plans.

Attracting "content area professionals" to our neediest schools sounds just swell, until you read The Nice Man Cometh over at NYC Educator's blog, one of the best posts that I've ever seen, anywhere. The anti-hero of the post, Mr. S., has a doctorate in mathematics and the full backing of an accreditation program, yet he fails. It also seems odd that they would be talking about moving around highly qualified teachers vis-a-vis the old idea of incentives for teaching in high-poverty schools. When every teacher is supposed to be highly qualified, shouldn't those schools too by definition be staffed with highly qualified teachers? Or is the Ed department conceding that there will always be a need for emergency credentials and stop-gap measures to get an adult into a classroom?

It also gets to the idea of highly qualified vs. highly effective. DOE conjoins the two terms in the letter, but they're clearly different things, and isn't it beyond the scope of the NCLB act to measure teacher effectiveness? Is asking the states to make that a part of their HQT plans over-reaching on the part of the Ed Department?


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3:21 AM  
Blogger Brad Hoge said...

This is one of the most intractable problems we face. Teaching is a skill that can be honed and developed, but there will always be those who just can't learn how to teach. There are others who don't need much instruction in the art to be effective. Requiring "high" qualifications (degrees in content fields, years of experience, etc.) is a knee-jerk reaction to this problem because it's all we can concretely point to, even though it's only a part of the solution and doesn't address all of the underlying reasons for teacher incompetence, as you point out.

7:08 AM  
Blogger NYC Educator said...

Thanks for your kind words.

For the record, I think teachers need to be qualified and effective. I have a ten-year-old daughter, and I don't think that's too much to ask for her.

Or for my students, either.

7:24 PM  
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4:57 AM  

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