States Gain Ground with Quality Teachers-Or Do They? Highly Qualified Teachers Nine States-Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina and South Dakota-Had Plans That Were Accepted by the Peers

Article excerpt

Most states are making serious strides in having experienced, well-trained teachers in classrooms, particularly low-performing and disadvantaged schools.

That's according to the U.S. Department of Education. "We're seeing some progress and we're making sure each state has a fully approvable plan in the near future," says Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Henry Johnson.

Under No Child Left Behind, teachers of core academic subjects must have a bachelor's degree, state certification, and knowledge in core subjects they teach. The law also requires that states develop plans to help teachers in low-performing and disadvantaged schools become highly qualified.

But the Education Trust, which also analyzed the teacher-equity plans, has a different view and wants states to return to the drawing board. "We can do better for poor and minority students," says Ross Wiener, policy director at Education Trust.

"I think when our team dug into these plans ... we found that states spent a lot of time and energy in creating these plans. But very few of them analyzed the data in a way that is required under the law. …