Does North Dakota Really Deserve Bad Grades For Teacher Preparedness?


Over the holiday you folks probably saw a lot of this headline:

“North Dakota receives bad grades in teacher preparedness”

The article, written by Anna Burleson of Forum Communications, details a report put out by the National Council on Teacher Quality which gives North Dakota a “D” grade on teacher preparedness. North Dakota has consistently received a “D” or “D-” from this group since 2009, according to Burleson’s report.

It all sounds troubling, but I’m wondering if we should care.

We probably shouldn’t, as this excerpt from Burleson’s article indicates:

[NCTQ project director Sandy] Jacobs said the goals spelled out by the council were developed eight years ago when the report was first created with input from stakeholders, “various experts across the spectrum” and vetted research.

“The goals are policy goals for what we think strong state policy looks like,” she said.

In other words, North Dakota’s teachers aren’t getting a bad grade because this group is measuring poor academic outcomes from students. In fact, they aren’t measuring outcomes for students at all. Instead, they’re measuring what North Dakota’s policies on teacher preparedness are versus what this group thinks they ought to be.

Perhaps that’s still relevant. Perhaps this group is right, and North Dakota’s policies ought to be changed, but giving the state a “D” in a report like this is very misleading. A bit like the Democrat National Committee giving North Dakota a “D” because the state institutes so much Republican policy.

What matters much more than our state’s education policies lineup with the agenda of some advocacy group are education outcomes. If we’re going to grade the state’s teachers, grade them on that.