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Back in 2011 National Council on Teacher Quality via The Platte Institute in Nebraska tried released a review of Nebraska's educational system.

In a Letter to the editor, an educator Mr. Bob Kuhn who taught at my High School posts some revealing information to counter this groups claims.

Paints an interesting picture of the National Council on Teacher Quality. which appears not to actually care about the education of the students, and only its Union busting agenda.  

Dear Editor:

On Monday, Jan. 9 , the Platte Institute headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska released a study discussing teacher selection and evaluation policies in Nebraska, and the basic conclusion was this: Teacher quality matters.

The Platte Institute is citing a study done by the National Council on Teacher Quality that gives Nebraska an overall teacher policy grade of D-, which reflects failing marks in critical areas such as delivering well prepared teachers, identifying effective teachers, and firing ineffective teachers.

According to the National Council on Teacher Quality, over the past decade, five Sunshine State reforms working in concert have helped raise achievement and graduation rates dramatically across student sub-groups:

1) Allowing multiple teaching paths to attract talented professionals to the classroom

2) Incentivizing student success through a professional pay structure

3) Defining teacher effectiveness in terms of student learning

4) Making student learning a core measure of teacher evaluations

5) Bringing teacher contracting into the 21st Century

Basically, what this means is that the Florida legislature passed a law that makes it legal for school systems in Florida to hire non certified teachers.

The Council on Teacher Quality says that strong teacher selection and evaluation policies are a cornerstone of Florida’s success. Their trumped up successes are based on a few arbitrarily chosen indicators on some achievement test scores of fourth grade minority students. They go on to say that Nebraska could realize similar success if policymakers follow the Sunshine State’s lead.

Let’s look at some statistical facts that do not agree with the study done by the National Council on Teacher Quality. The ACT test and the SAT test are national standardized tests that are used by colleges and universities in the United States for admission purposes. The ACT and SAT tests measure the cumulative knowledge and skills acquired by a student throughout his school and life experiences.

The Florida students that took the ACT test in 1999 ranked 35th out of the 50 states used in the statistical sample. They were actually tied for the 35th spot with Oklahoma and Virginia. Their overall composite score was 20.6. The ACT composite scores range from 1-36. The Florida students who took the ACT test in 2011 had a composite score of 19.6. Only Tennessee and Mississippi had lower scores and 100 percent of the students in those two states took the test. Florida had 66 percent of their students take the test. States with lower participation rates will tend to score higher. An inference could be made based on participation rates, that Florida would be dead last in the rankings of ACT composite scores by state.

According to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, Nebraska students ranked 4th in the country for states testing 50 percent or more of their high school graduates in 2011. The composite score for Nebraska graduates in 2011 was 22.1 and 76 percent of their graduates were tested by the ACT exam. The three states ahead of Nebraska were Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. Those three states had lower participation rates than Nebraska.

Had Nebraska had the same participation rates as the three ahead of them, only Minnesota would be assumed to be ahead of Nebraska with their combined composite score of 22.9 with a participation rate of 72 percent. That would place Nebraska students as having the 2nd highest average composite ACT score in the testing sample. Nebraska graduating students have consistently ranked among the top ten states in the country over many years with a higher participation rate than most other states.

The statistics and assumptions used by the National Council of Teacher Quality don’t seem to jive with the learning outcomes as measured by the ACT and SAT tests. Florida students have dropped from a rank of 35 of 50 in 1999 on the ACT test to dead last or close to dead last during the time that they have implemented these great new teacher selection policies. They give Nebraska policy of selecting and retaining teachers a grade of D- when our graduating seniors rank near the top of the nation in learning outcomes.

On the website of the National Council on Teacher Quality which is housed in Washington D.C. ,there is a section that shows the states that have collective bargaining rights. This is probably the real issue here in their failed misguided attempts to undermine the educational process in Nebraska. These types of groups are funded by wealthy individuals and corporate entities and their goal is to dismantle all unions and organizations that have collective bargaining rights all across the country.

Basically, in my opinion, this is an attack on our middle class. One of the methods that they can use to accomplish their greedy goals is to minimize our teachers, policemen, firemen and any other target group by disseminating information that has no factual basis. The National Council on Teacher Quality is using the Platte Institute of Economic Research as their conduit through the Nebraska legislature to achieve their goals.

The source for ACT results can be verified on the web at:www.act.org.

Bob Kuhn
Grand Island Executive director Nebraska Association of Retired School Personnel

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