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January 01, 2016

Report gives Pennsylvania C- grade for creating effective teachers

Annual analysis hands state average mark for policies

A recent analysis on state policies for creating good teachers gives Pennsylvania a grade that would barely pass most classes.

The annual report from the National Council on Teacher Quality, released in December, measures each state's progress on a number of goals for policies that prepare, retain and regard effective teachers.

Pennsylvania got a C- in 2015, according to the report, which is the average grade for all 50 states. That's the same mark it got in 2013 but an improvement from 2011 when the council gave Pennsylvania a D+.

Much of the report focuses on how teachers in each state are held accountable or rewarded for their work.

The analysis is broken down into five categories in which Pennsylvania got the following grades: C- for delivering well-prepared teachers, C+ for expanding the teacher pool, C+ for identifying effective teachers, D for retaining effective teachers, and D- for exiting ineffective teachers.

According to NPR's Pittsburgh affiliate 90.5 WESA, the issue with getting rid of bad teachers in the state is tied to how quickly tenure is acquired without considering performance. More from WESA:

The report card reiterates that in Pennsylvania teachers can be fired for ineffectiveness and that how well they perform is tied to tenure, but also found that teachers are given tenure almost automatically after three years without taking into account their performance. Under current law, tenure status is also transferable to future professional positions in other in-state public school districts.

Sandi Jacobs, senior vice president for state and district policy for the council, told the radio station that Pennsylvania, like many states, still has plenty of room for improvement in creating policies that set teachers up for success.