A Reform agenda from Minnesota

Tim Pawlenty, governor of Minnesota, has an education agenda that Kansas might want to consider. Some of the elements include:

  • “Require that candidates for college teacher preparation programs pass the basic skills test prior to entry into the program.”
  • “Authorize alternative teacher preparation and licensure programs provided by various types of qualified providers to create pathways for mid-career professionals and others to earn a teaching license.”
  • Change tenure so that it’s given in five-year, renewable periods.

It sounds as if the governor has been paying attention to the National Council on Teacher Quality.

For a few years now, Minnesota has had a weak version of a merit pay system called Q-Comp. An analysis conducted for the state Department of Education says the program has some benefits, though the Office of the Legislative Auditor has found that the program has not always been administered properly. In particular, “Q Comp’s effect on student achievement cannot be adequately measured using existing data.”

In keeping with the theme of posts from last week, Minnesota scores higher than the national average on math and reading on the Nation’s Report Card. Like Kansas, it is a whiter-than-average state, so I looked at the percentage of white students who are at or above the proficiency level, as a quick way of controlling for demographics. Minnesota does well, scoring above the national average on grade 4 and 8 mathematics as well as grade 8 reading.

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