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Group: Little progress made in Kentucky teacher quality

Group: Little progress made in Kentucky teacher quality

Posted: Monday, January 30, 2012 6:38 pm
By: By The Associated Press

The Messenger 01.30.12

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky has made very little progress in improving the quality of its teachers the past two years and its elementary teachers are not ready to implement new lessons required by the state’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards, according to a report released by National Council on Teacher Quality.
“Although Kentucky has adopted the Common Core Standards, the state does not ensure that its elementary teachers candidates are adequately prepared to teach the rigorous content associated with these standards,” the 160-page report states.
Overall, Kentucky ranked 41st in teacher quality nationwide, with an overall grade of D+. The not-for-profit, non-partisan NCTQ is a research and policy group that seeks to improve the quality of teaching.
The report also was highly critical of the state’s requirements for special education teachers, saying because they need only a general certification, they do not have the knowledge needed to teach special education students expected to learn grade-level content.
“Failure to ensure that teachers possess requisite content knowledge deprives special education students of the opportunity to reach their academic potential,” the report said.
Kentucky was first to adopt the Common Core State Standards, designed to ensure a uniform public K-12 education from state-to-state, and is using them as part of a public education overhaul mandated by Senate Bill 1 in 2009. The 2011-12 school year has been a transition for Kentucky’s public schools as some of the new coursework has been utilized.
The state also scored low for not requiring student performance to be part of a teacher’s evaluation. However, a House bill that would make student achievement an indicator of how well teachers are doing passed recently and was sent to the Senate.
The report also recommended Kentucky:
• Include evidence of teacher effectiveness in renewing licenses and awarding tenure;
• Allow local districts freedom to make their own salary schedules, rather than follow a state-dictated schedule that rewards teachers for earning advanced degrees and for seniority;
• Overhaul the teachers’ pension plan, which the report said is “not financially sustainable;”
• Require performance improvement plans for teachers who receive unsatisfactory evaluations;
• Make teacher ineffectiveness grounds for dismissal;
• Ignore tenure or seniority status when deciding who will lose jobs during layoffs.
Phillip Rogers, executive director of the state’s Education Professional Standards Board, said recommendations made in the report are seriously considered. Recommendations from past reports have led to more stringent tests for elementary teachers that will begin to be used this fall.
“While we don’t agree with everything, we’re not going to just dismiss it,” Rogers said.
The report noted that the only subjects Kentucky’s elementary teachers are expected to know are general physical science, earth science, biology/life science, geography and music. The report said Kentucky’s elementary teachers are not fully prepared to teach reading or mathematics.
But the state scored higher marks for the preparation of middle school teachers.
“Kentucky is commended for ensuring that middle school teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach middle school-level content,” the report said.
High school teachers also received higher marks, but the state was criticized for a loophole that allows social studies teachers to skirt subject-specific licensing by letting them take a general test.
“… Candidates could answer many history questions, for example, incorrectly, yet still be licensed to teach history to high school students,” the report states.
Kentucky ranked high for its student teaching programs, and was commended for requiring student teachers to serve for 12 weeks.

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