State Worked Six Years to Fix Teacher Problem Over-Hyped by Erroneous Stats

Monday, October 01, 2012

Statistics in 2005-06, which showed that 58% of instructors in the state’s worst schools lacked proper teaching credentials, mistakenly doubled the size of the problem by counting records twice.

The publication California Watch says it alerted the Commission on Teacher Credentialing in July that its review of six years worth of records was turning up erroneous data, and the commission responded last month that the entire year of 2005-06 was duplicated.

That year was the first after the landmark Williams v. California civil rights case created new standards for measuring whether students were getting their basic education needs, including textbooks, adequate facilities and properly-trained teachers. The 2005-06 school year was used as a baseline for judging further progress and, indeed, progress was swift without the duplicated records.

The commission collects the data from counties, and reports it on a regular basis. Mistakes were also found in other years, but nothing as massive as 2005-06. The most recent data available, for 2010-11, indicates that 13% of certified staff (mostly teachers) at the lowest-performing schools lacked the proper credentials. That’s down from 19% the year before, but close to the 14% recorded in 2008-09.

The commission has come under intense scrutiny in the past from the California State Auditor. An audit in 2009 was critical of the commission’s three-year backlog of investigating 12,600 arrest or prosecution reports involving teachers, and a 2011 report  cited nepotism, bad employee morale and lapses in myriad aspects of the commission’s regulatory process.    

“It's one of the worst-run organizations we've seen in a long, long time—of any state agency that we've looked at,” state Auditor Elaine Howle told The Sacramento Bee last year. Howle said the commission should move faster to discipline wayward teachers and not overly rely on court convictions for their investigative work.

But a year later, Howle had kinder words for the commission. “Overall, I am here to commend you as commissioners and the staff,” Howle said, as she reviewed the latest review of the commission.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

State Reported Inflated Rate of Teachers Lacking Credentials (by Joanna Lin, California Watch)

Commission on Teacher Credentialing (California State Auditor) (pdf)

Once Castigated, Commission on Teacher Credentialing Is Praised (by John Fensterwald, EdSource)

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