As part of the National Council on Teacher Quality’s annual report on teacher policies, this year’s edition of the State Teacher Policy Yearbook continues to keep the spotlight on critical issues of teacher preparation. The 2014 yearbook has “expanded its policy analysis to examine the extent to which states have aligned their requirements for teacher preparation and licensure with the skills needed to prepare students for college and careers” (p. i). Specifically, it focuses on state efforts to prepare teachers for the profession by explicitly requiring teacher preparation programs to address the K-12 instructional shifts required by college- and career-readiness standards. One of several key findings show that “no state received a ‘green light’ for its state policies to deliver teachers into the classroom well prepared to help their students achieve at the high level demanded by college- and career-readiness standards” (p. i).
This comprehensive 96-page report clearly describes and meets its purposes, with its key goals of evaluating and reporting the quality of U.S. teacher preparation programs while also spurring improvements. The methodology used in ranking teacher preparation programs is certainly arguable. Statements such as the following raise the issue of potential bias: "What we do dispute is that the field’s current 'anything goes' approach to teacher preparation is the best foundation for a great profession." Also, the accuracy of a ranking system using numerical ranks rather than a more categorical rank system is questionable. A final important note is that the first 20 pages of this publication include many defensive statements rather than objective reporting. Nevertheless, through this report the NCTQ has established itself as an organization, if not the leading organization, for improvement of teacher training programs across the United States. Organizations that fail to participate in this annual review system will likely find themselves with declining enrollment. There is no doubt that this report garners attention, action, and use, and therefore a high probability of having a positive impact on student learning.