Two new reports on teacher quality came out last week, and both have some real problems. You can find these at:
Meeting the Highly Qualified Teachers Challenge, US Department of Education, and
Interpret with Caution: The First State Title II Reports on the Quality of Teacher Preparation, Education Trust
The US DOE report presents some very questionable data on the number of teachers in each state that are not fully qualified to teach. For example, Kentucky was listed with only 375 teachers who are not fully certified, about 0.9% of the total. Even more peculiar, Kentucky claims that the percentage of unqualified teachers in poverty school districts is even lower, just 0.3%. The data is at sharp odds with other figures published in the state.
Reading the introduction to the federal report's appendix section makes it pretty evident that the federal data isn't worth the paper it isn't printed on (on top of everything else, the report claims compliance with the paperwork reduction act because it was all done electronically! Talk about playing fast and loose with the intent of a law!).
Anyway, the EdTrust report points out most of these short-comings. But, EdTrust doesn't get it completely right, either. At the same time that EdTrust rails against the federal figures, their report praises Kentucky for having a web site where parents can look up the qualification of any teacher in the state's public school system. But, what if the data in that Kentucky teacher web site is as cockeyed as the data the state reported to the feds? EdTrust missed this issue completely.
Anyway, watch for lots of reporters to get this all wrong, too. A good example just showed up today in the Kentucky Enquirer, the special edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer for people who live in the greater Cincinnati area but call home somewhere just south of the Ohio River.
I will be gathering more information on this misleading set of reports. Anyone on the list who has real certification rate information for their state, I'd love to receive that.
Dick appends two further messages:
Interpret with Caution
Meeting the Highly Qualified ...