Why did a national “teacher quality” think tank give Alaska a D minus?

There are many factors in student success, and an opinion piece in the Juneau Empire recently highlighted an extremely important, yet sensitive one:  teacher accountability.

In his piece, author Win Gruening points out that, “Most teachers are competent, dedicated public servants. But not all.” He references a recently released national report which analyzes a myriad of policies in nine different areas, ranking all fifty states “on how well their programs and policies raise the quality of the teachers in their schools.” Alaska received a D minus. Alaska has never received higher than a D in the eight years since the grading process began in 2009.

Mr. Gruening goes on: “Perhaps it’s time for education advocates to stop viewing issues, such as poor test scores, absenteeism and low graduation rates, through the single lens of funding and ask why a national teacher quality think tank gave Alaska a D- grade in teacher accountability.”

While teachers are only one part of the equation, they are clearly a very important component. Teacher accountability is an area in which the state and local governments have some control, and can make changes to bring improvements. But as Mr. Gruening points out, “Championing change like this requires tremendous political courage. It would require battling unions, school board members, and many entrenched interests across the state.” And so we ask: Who in Alaska will lead the way courageously?

The report can be accessed here:  https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/home#nationalMap

Read the full opinion piece in the Juneau Empire: https://juneauempire.com/opinion/2018-01-24/isn-t-it-time-alaska-be-leader