In the best study since The New Teacher Project's expose of urban hiring horror stories, a group called Learning from Philadelphia's School Reform has unearthed a wealth of important data on the quality of Philadelphia s teachers, counterproductive hiring practices, and the inequitable distribution of teachers. Philadelphia deserves kudos since most urban districts can't or won't provide such revealing data. Particularly noteworthy are the multiple tables on teacher attrition. For instance, Philadelphia's high poverty schools (read: most of them) have lost 50% of their teachers over the last three years. Philadelphia also employs a good many teachers who have not managed to pass the Praxis I, a test of basic skills aimed at the 8th grade level. In many states, teachers cannot even be admitted into a school of education without first passing this test.
The study is edifying; its conclusion less so. It elevates assertions about the importance of traditional teacher certification as policy panacea rather than seeing it as more of the same.