States Struggle with New Education Mandates
By Pamela M. Prah, Staff Writer
All the states appear to be at least "partially on track" to have new reading and math tests in place by 2005-06, but most states are struggling to make sure all classrooms will have "qualified" teachers by then, according to a database unveiled Jan. 29 that monitors states' progress in meeting new federal requirements.
The Education Commission of the States, a Denver-based nonprofit organization, said it unveiled the online database as a way to provide policymakers and the public with a real-time "snapshot" of all 50 states' progress in meeting the new federal education law, known as No Child Left Behind.
A $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education largely funded the project, but ECS said the department did not certify or approve the findings.
Among other things, the ECS data shows that only 10 states have defined what "highly qualified teachers" are and only Wisconsin appears to be close to actually having them. Seven other states appear to be "partially on track" to have highly qualified teachers in every classroom, according to ECS data. The seven are: California, Mississippi, New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia.
"Our data show that all states are making progress; some are just farther down the road than others," Ted Sanders, ECS president. "Our analysis gives them a roadmap for moving ahead by identifying where states are in meeting requirements, compared to where they need to be, and by showing them how they compare to their neighboring states."
The database does not indicate what states are putting in their annual plans that they must submit to the U.S. Department of Education by Jan. 31. Most states are scrambling to meet that key deadline.
Sanders stressed that the database is a "dynamic" tool illustrating states' work, but that the database does not reflect policies or regulations that legislatures or boards may be working on now. ECS gathered the information in November and December, and reviewed and clarified it in January.
"What you see today may change tomorrow or next week as states pass new laws and policies," Sanders said.