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Missouri gets a “C” on teacher policies

A new report released by the National Council on Teacher Quality highlights ways our state could improve teacher quality through policy changes.

The report provides a nationwide analysis of state laws, rules, and regulations that govern the teaching profession and measures those findings against a realistic blueprint for reform.

Missouri’s “C” grade on the bi-annual report places it slightly ahead of Kansas and Iowa (both with a “D+”) and behind Illinois and Arkansas (both with a “C+”).

The report paints a mixed picture of teacher policies in Missouri, showing some successes in teacher preparation, but some serious deficiencies when it comes to teacher evaluation, teacher compensation and the ability to retain effective teachers.

State moving in the right direction for teacher preparation

On the positive side, Missouri received a “B-” for general teacher preparation, and “C+” scores for both secondary and special education teacher preparation.

According to the report, key policy highlights include the state’s requirement for secondary teachers to pass rigorous single subject content tests and holding teacher preparation programs accountable for meeting performance standards.

The report recommends, however, that the state needs to work on policies that improve teacher’s understanding of reading instruction and improved college and career readiness standards.

Hiring and retaining qualified teachers a continuing problem

According to the report, Missouri continues to have issues with hiring and retaining high-quality teachers.

The report warns that the state needs to improve its requirements for hiring both out-of-state teachers and teachers coming into the profession from an alternate route.

Once hired, the state needs to focus more on having student growth being the determinative factor in teacher evaluations, improve links between student-level data and teacher performance, and provide better support for new teachers, according to the report.

Additionally, the report warns that Missouri’s teacher compensation process needs revision (giving compensation a grade of only a “D-“). The National Council on Teacher Quality recommends that performance pay be tied to student growth instead of advanced degrees, compensation should be increased for teachers working in high-need schools, and that prior work experience should be considered when setting compensation for new teachers.

The report also warns that the state needs to base licensure advancement, tenure and teacher dismissal on teacher effectiveness and student growth instead of seniority.

“The state should enable ineffective classroom performance to be a basis for dismissal, and not allow multiple appeals for teachers who are dismissed,” according to the report.

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