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  Comments (9) Total Wednesday Apr. 23, 2014
Montana Gets Flunking Grade for Teacher Policies
Teacher quality report
HELENA – A report released Wednesday gives Montana flunking grades for its policies in preparing quality teachers and removing ineffective ones from the classroom.

The National Council on Teacher Quality gave Montana an overall grade of F in its State Teacher Policy Yearbook 2011, the same grade as its last report two years ago. Montana is the only state to receive flunking grades in consecutive reports.

Officials at the state Office of Public Instruction say the criteria the group uses in its analysis is flawed, with the proof being that Montana's schools produce high-performing students.

"We are not steering our ship in their direction because we have no evidence that steering our ship in their direction will produce results," said Deputy Superintendent Dennis Parman.

The report flunked the state for its policies in placing well-prepared teachers in classrooms, expanding its teacher pool, identifying effective teachers and removing ineffective ones.

The only area in which the state received a D was in retaining effective teachers, with the group crediting the state with giving individual districts full authority over how teachers are paid. Otherwise, the report consisted of a lengthy list of what the group found to be policy weaknesses, including six areas that hinder Montana's ability to retain good teachers.

In the category of delivering well-prepared teachers, the report listed 11 weaknesses. They included not requiring teacher candidates to pass an academic proficiency test, not adequately preparing elementary teachers to teach the Common Core Standards that have been adopted by most states and shortcomings in other teacher preparation programs.

The report cited five weaknesses in Montana's policies to expand the pool of teachers, including insufficiently selective or flexible admission criteria for teacher candidates.

There also is no overall policy regarding teacher evaluations, which is one of five deficiencies the report cited how the state identifies effective teachers. Ineffective classroom performance is not grounds for dismissal, which is one of three policy weaknesses cited as making it difficult to remove bad teachers from the classroom.

Parman said evidence that the state employs quality teachers is shown through the students. The National Assessment of Educational Progress figures released late last year showed that Montana fourth graders and eight graders beat the national average in reading and math.

Superintendent Denise Juneau said at the time that the scores reflected Montana schools' high quality of teaching.

Parman said the state is not resting on its laurels when it comes to teacher quality, but the policies the group recommends don't all work for Montana. For example, the report does not account for how much local control Montana gives individual school districts, suggesting instead that the policies should be centralized, he said.

"I challenge the NTSQ to find a state that hits the mark with their criteria and has the same results as we do," Parman said.
On 01-31-12, Eileen Wright commented....
The purpose of the NTCQ is to teach opinion rather than facts.
Kellyn Brown
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