Thursday, August 17, 2006

"Highly Qualified" May Be a Can of Worms

This may be a case of "You Don't Want to KNOW the Truth"--

Wisconsin officials take pride in being at the top of at least one list nationally when it comes to putting "highly qualified" teachers in classrooms, but Wednesday they found themselves at the bottom of the list when it comes to meeting federal rules for doing exactly that.

U.S. Department of Education officials announced they had rejected as inadequate every one of the responses Wisconsin gave when asked how it was dealing with six general requirements for assuring that every child has a highly qualified teacher

One expects that Wisconsin's DPI, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of WEAC, would be dissembling and spinning to favor its client, WEAC. No big deal. Of course, DPI's claims of 'compliance' are interesting:

Wisconsin's Department of Public Instruction says that in its most recent calculations, 99.3% of teachers in the state - all but only 346 out of 51,862 in the 2004-'05 school year - met the definition of highly qualified the state uses for requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind education law.

...almost as good as Ivory Soap!

It looks as though seniority may play a part:

The Education Trust, a non-profit organization that has been influential in discussions of teacher quality, issued a report in June that criticized Wisconsin for having a disproportionate number of inexperienced teachers in low-performing schools, particularly in Milwaukee.

The organization issued a separate report last week that said Wisconsin was among a handful of states that had not put together data on the percentage of high-quality teachers vs. inexperienced teachers in schools where poverty and minority enrollment are high.

DPI officials agree there is a concern about inexperienced teachers, particularly in Milwaukee Public Schools, and say they are launching efforts to improve mentoring and training of such teachers.

But a determination of what, exactly, constitutes "highly qualified" may be far more interesting than a bureaucratic hissy-fit over the numbers.

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