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Georgia gets passing grade from advocacy group for teacher preparation, retention

Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 7:31 PM
Last updated Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 7:59 AM
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Georgia received a passing grade for the way it prepares, retains and awards effective teachers, according to a Na­tion­al Council on Teacher Quality report released Thursday.

The state received a B-minus, above the national average of C-minus, on the Washington-based advocacy group’s State Teacher Policy Yearbook, which analyzed the laws and regulations that govern the teaching profession for every state.

“Just two years ago we gave Georgia a C-minus,” said Sandi Jacobs, the council’s vice president. “To advance a full grade in two years is significant progress forward.”

The council praised the state for requiring middle school teachers to pass a single-subject content test rather than teach on a K-8 general license, like many other states.

However, without requiring elementary teacher candidates to pass individual tests in each content area, Jacobs said some might be lacking needed speciality, especially in math.

Though the council did not delve into the specifics of Georgia’s new Teacher Keys Effectiveness System, an evaluation tool piloted in 2012, it gave the state credit for having an instrument in place to identify effective teachers and remove unsuccessful ones.

Georgia received above-average marks for making evidence of student learning a criteria on teacher evaluations and that license renewal is based on teacher effectiveness.

Performance is also the top criterion for districts to consider when determining which teachers to lay off.

The council criticized the fact that the state does not require teachers who receive unsatisfactory evaluations to be put on improvement plans, although that is a common practice implemented by individual districts.

In 2013, a NCTQ ranking of teacher colleges drew wide criticism for its methodology and fairness. However, this report appeared more subjective, with the council collecting data on each state’s established education laws.

Jacobs said the group also provided a draft to each department of education to review before publishing the report, which was funded by the Bill and Melin­da Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation and other sponsors.

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