A look at individual state report cards reveals that states need to pave the way for new reform by filling the gaps between teacher quality and student achievement, education policy experts said at a panel Wednesday.
Representatives from Education Week, National Council on Teacher Quality, StudentsFirst, and New America discussed methodology and differences in grading on the basis of their separate subjects and objectives as an organization at the New America Foundation’s Make the Grades: What State Policy Report Cards reveal about Education Reform event.
States were graded overall on teacher effectiveness, school choice, academic standards, and outcomes in the state education policy report cards that each organization produced. These reports can be used as status indicators of state progress.
Education Week gave a C+ for the average state grade with National Council for Teacher Quality giving a C-, and StudentsFirst, a D+. The highest grades for each were a B+, B+, and a B- respectively.
Researchers discussed the need to fill the gap between education policy being introduced and successfully incorporated to help schools succeed.
“It’s clear that we all see the utility of these rankings and grades, but also the need to really figure out implementation and how to be thinking about that in a different way,” said Anne Hyslop, policy analyst for the education policy program at the New America Foundation. “One of the takeaways… is how can we move from policy adoption to policy implementation and incorporate that also into our work? That’s going to be what really drives whether we see the achievement results that we want.”
In part, what makes this event so important is the implementation of the reports into policy, which Hyslop said starts with the states.
“States have been leaders in education reform over the last few years; the federal government hasn’t been enacting much legislation lately, so a lot of what’s happening really is at the state level,” said Hyslop.
Sandi Jacobs, vice president and managing director of state policy at the National Council on Teacher Quality emphasized reaching the audience and starting the dialogue between state policymakers and these organizations.
“Our primary audience is policymakers. We are trying to give policymakers a blueprint, a roadmap…that they can use. We’re trying to show states examples of what other states are doing that we think is good strong policy to really emphasize those best practices,” Jacobs said.
Analysts then measure progress from the report card through changes in GPA. Jacobs traced this progress from 2009, when the average score for states was a D, to 2011 with a D+, to the C- from the most recent report.
“So as far as how we assess progress, I mean, the beauty of the report card is itself. You have ways to compare from year to year pretty clearly,” Jacobs said. “The most exciting thing for us has been the change over the last few years, states have put a lot of emphasis on teacher policies.”
Hyslop said that the National Council for Teacher Quality has adjusted standards, changing what counts for an A, and setting the goals higher for state education.