The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) conducts research and provides important data analysis on key education policy issues that impact the teacher workforce. NCTQ's work includes reviews of the quality of 1,200 elementary teacher preparation programs across the nation in recruiting strong, diverse candidates, and in providing them with the knowledge and skills that are essential for success in the classroom. NCTQ also tracks any policy relevant to the teaching profession found in state laws or regulations, as well as school board policies, contractual agreements, school calendars, and salary schedules maintained by the 140+ largest school districts.

Our policy recommendations are based on the data we collect, firmly grounded in peer-reviewed research, and designed to strengthen the teaching profession so that all teachers — aspiring, novice, and veteran — can thrive and all students can learn. 

See NCTQ's work in action. Check out recent media coverage of our data, analyses, and more:

New report OK's Mass. early literacy teacher prep policies
(Boston Globe, January 16, 2024)
Massachusetts is among the many states that have rightly prioritized a move toward the science of reading. NCTQ rated Massachusetts as "moderate" in implementing key policies that strengthen teachers' ability to deliver strong reading instruction in our report, State of the States: Five Policy Actions to Strengthen Implementation of the Science of Reading. This article uses data from the report to contextualize Massachusetts's reading policy development, highlighting both the strides the state has made to strengthen reading instruction as well as where its policies still fall short.

National report ranks Nebraska 'weak' in implementing science of reading policies
(Omaha World-Herald, January 16, 2024)
Nebraska is one of 19 states rated as "weak" in implementing reading policies that strengthen teachers' capacity to effectively teach reading in an NCTQ report, State of the States: Five Policy Actions to Strengthen Implementation of the Science of Reading. "Nebraska has a lot of work to do in order to ensure that teachers are well prepared to teach (students) to read and to help increase reading rates across the state," NCTQ President Heather Peske said of the state. This reporting pulls data from our report to break down the state of Nebraska's reading policies and how they pertain to Nebraska's troubling student literacy outcomes.

What Makes a Strong Early Reading Law? Not Everyone Agrees
(Education Week, January 16, 2024)
There's been a legislative push in many states to reshape how reading is taught. But as this article denotes, these efforts don't look the same. Most policy efforts lack a key component to the implementation and sustainability of the science of reading: effective teachers. This article provides a national overview of NCTQ's report, State of the States: Five Policy Actions to Strengthen Implementation of the Science of Reading, which tracks the extent to which states are implementing five key policy actions that strengthen teachers' ability to teach kids to read.

Educators rethink how to teach reading after flaws are revealed in prior methods
(NPR, January 1, 2024)
Two out of every five fourth graders in the U.S. (1.3 million children) can't read at a basic level. Grappling with dire student reading outcomes, many states and advocates are rethinking how reading should be taught in schools and are turning to decades of research on how kids best learn to read. In this NPR Morning Edition segment, NCTQ President Heather Peske spoke about the importance of ensuring teacher preparation programs adequately prepare novice elementary teachers—who have "invested lots of money and lots of time in learning to teach," she said—in scientifically based reading instruction.

Hawaii Gave $10,000 Raises to Teachers. It's Working—for Now.
(Mother Jones, December 5, 2023)
While claims of a "national teacher shortage" dominate news headlines, shortages are asymmetrical across subjects, grade levels, and locations. Often, states and districts will use quick-fix blanket solutions like universal raises to attract or retain talent. Instead, states should follow in Hawaii's footsteps and employ strategic salary models to mitigate shortages, which grant additional compensation to teachers in harder-to-fill positions, like special-education teachers. NCTQ President Heather Peske is quoted saying districts should also eliminate raises for teachers who earn a master's degree. "There's not a correlation in the research between having a master's degree and being an effective teacher," she said. "And yet that's where millions go each year."

Not all teachers want to be principals, but what comes next otherwise?
(Stacker, November 14, 2023)
It's common in most professions for employees to advance in position or move up the chain of command. Many teachers, however, enter the classroom without plans to transition to administrative or leadership roles and often remain teachers until retirement. States and districts are getting creative to provide teachers with leadership opportunities that capitalize on their expertise while still ensuring they can fulfill their passion for teaching. Using data from our 2019 report, NCTQ Databurst: Teacher Leadership Opportunities, this article describes how many states have policies about teacher leadership roles as well as how many of them offer teachers additional compensation or support for pursuing one.

The $1.8-Billion Lawsuit Over a Teacher Test
(The New Yorker, October 31, 2023)
Emma Green details the inception of a lawsuit by a committee largely comprised of Black and Latino teachers who felt a New York teacher-qualification exam discriminated against aspiring teachers of color, preventing them from passing at a symmetrical rate to their white counterparts. Green explores other claims that teacher-certification exams are racist due to racially disparate pass rates between test takers. "The idea that because there are disparate pass rates, it somehow means that the instrument itself is biased—I take issue with that as a premise," NCTQ President Heather Peske asserts. While it's critical to diversify the teaching workforce, Peske reinforces the importance of maintaining strong licensure tests and ensuring teacher preparation programs sufficiently prepare aspiring teachers of color with the content knowledge needed to pass certification exams.

Why better preparation, more experience is critical for teacher retention
(Dallas Morning News, October 15, 2023)
Many states are struggling to keep teachers from leaving the profession and Texas is no different. This article shows how improving teacher preparation can lead to lower teacher burnout and greater stability for students. NCTQ President Dr. Heather Peske says that many alternative, fast-track teacher prep programs don't give candidates enough time, training, and experience to learn the necessary skills to become successful educators. "Candidates enter classrooms quickly, then leave much more quickly," she said of such programs.

Doubling up on classrooms, using online teachers and turning to support staff: How schools are dealing with the ongoing teacher shortage
(CNN, September 11, 2023)
Teacher shortages vary among subjects, grade levels, and locations—meaning they require targeted solutions and strategic data collection. However, grappling with persistent teacher vacancies, a troubling number of states have lowered teaching certification standards to get teachers into classrooms. This article cites NCTQ data on how many states have lowered standards to "fast-track" the teacher-certification process. NCTQ President Heather Peske advises parents to examine whether their children's teachers are licensed in the subject they teach and ask the principal how the school intends to support teachers who are unprepared or unqualified.

Teachers conquering their math anxiety
(The Hechinger Report, September 5, 2023)
Math anxiety is common among both students and adults, including some teachers. This disposition can deter aspiring teachers from pursuing math as their teaching subject. Plus, math anxiety is a vicious cycle: Research suggests that students taught by teachers with math anxiety perform worse than peers taught by teachers with a positive outlook on math. This article references data from NCTQ's 2022 Teacher Prep Review: Preparation in Elementary Mathematics report on how teacher preparation programs are not appropriately spending instructional hours on math content. NCTQ President Heather Peske urges prep programs to better prepare teachers in math instruction before they enter the classroom.

Are Illinois schools teaching reading all wrong?
(Chicago Sun Times, December 25, 2022)
In Illinois, the momentum for changing how elementary students learn to read is growing. This article highlights NCTQ's Teacher Prep Review: Program Performance in Early Reading Instruction, which points out that many educator preparation programs still do not provide sufficient preparation in early reading for aspiring elementary teachers.

Overworked, underpaid? The toll of burnout is contributing to teacher shortages nationwide
(USA Today, December 21, 2022)
"There is no national teacher shortage. Many classrooms have all the educators they need and in some cases never had vacancies to begin with. Yet shortages in many others persist. Staffing levels can vary significantly by state, district, school, subject and grade level." — A nuanced analysis of where teacher shortages exist across the country, the contributing factors, and discussion of how students are being affected. This reporting uses NCTQ data on which states publicly report key information about their teacher workforce needs.

Uncertified teachers filling holes in schools across the South
(The Dallas Morning News, October 13, 2022)
An in-depth look at how states throughout the South are relying more on emergency-certified teachers or educators who are teaching subjects outside of their certification area to fill vacancies in elementary, middle, and high school classrooms. NCTQ's Chief of Policy and Programs Shannon Holston offers expert insight on why state education leaders cannot afford to be shortsighted with their teacher hiring practices as it has the potential to negatively impact students for years to come.

NC teachers would prove they are effective educators under proposed licensure program
(WRAL News, October 10, 2022)
A synopsis of North Carolina's proposed new teacher licensure and compensation system, which would require newly licensed teachers and experienced teachers seeking to renew their licenses to prove they are effective. The piece includes NCTQ data highlighting other states that have implemented similar policies.

One Way to Ease the Teacher Shortage: Pay More, Some Districts Say
(The New York Times, October 6, 2022)
Expert insight on how school districts can effectively address teacher shortages in hard-to-staff subjects and schools. NCTQ's President Dr. Heather Peske discusses why it's important for aspiring teachers to be knowledgeable about teacher supply and demand in their local job market before entering the workforce, and using strategic pay to attract and retain teachers.

Fact Check Team: Teacher shortage continues to threaten US education system
(The National Desk, October 5, 2022)
As states address teacher staffing challenges in the wake of the pandemic, education policymakers continue to turn to lowering or eliminating teacher licensure requirements as an immediate fix that allows them to hire more aspiring teachers. NCTQ's President Dr. Heather Peske weighs in on why this short-term solution has lasting, negative implications for the teaching profession and student learning recovery efforts.

Pa. waived the basic skills requirement for educators. Will it work to attract more teachers?
(The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 17, 2022)
Pennsylvania joins a growing list of states that have enacted policies to remove requirements for aspiring teachers, including having to pass a basic skills test in reading, writing, and math for admission into a teacher preparation program. NCTQ data provides a comparison of states' policies regarding basic skills tests and NCTQ's President Dr. Heather Peske speaks on the importance of collecting data on how such policy decisions will impact aspiring teachers and their future students.

Wanted: Teachers. No Training Necessary.
(The Washington Post, September 13, 2022)
A look at how some states have resorted to lowering standard requirements—including eliminating teacher licensure content tests—for entry into the teaching profession as a way to attract more would-be teachers and combat teacher staffing challenges. NCTQ's President Dr. Heather Peske discusses the negative implications for student outcomes, particularly for the nation's most vulnerable students.

Distance learning affected disadvantaged students most. The teacher shortages are just piling on.
(USA Today, August 28, 2022)
An in-depth analysis of where teacher shortages actually exist in the U.S. and which student groups have been impacted the most, with additional insight on how some states and school districts are working to fill vacant teaching positions. NCTQ policy analysis on states' teacher workforce data reporting helps illuminate the dearth of information on teacher shortages and NCTQ's President Dr. Heather Peske weighs in on why education leaders must reconsider the recent trend of lowering requirements for entry into the teaching profession.

As the start of the school year looms, teacher vacancies remain. One Philly-area district may farm out its students to community college.
(The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 8, 2022)
As some Philadelphia-area school districts are faced with teacher staffing challenges heading into the 2022-23 school year, district leaders consider alternative ways to help keep students in the classroom. NCTQ President Dr. Heather Peske weighs in on the need for better state- and district-level data on teacher vacancies to help target incentives where they're needed most.

States Relax Teacher Certification Rules to Combat Shortages
(Education Week, June 28, 2022)
In anticipation of teacher shortages, several states have opted to lower requirements for aspiring teachers to become fully licensed–including eliminating some licensure tests. NCTQ President Dr. Heather Peske offers insight on why states need data systems to better track potential teacher shortage areas rather than making blunt policy responses.

A Trio of Upstate colleges uncovered the secret to teaching children math
(The Post and Courier, May 20, 2022)
Highlights three South Carolina-based educator prep programs that received top grades in NCTQ's Teacher Prep Review: Preparation for Teaching Elementary Mathematics report (2022), ensuring that their aspiring elementary teachers get the math content knowledge and pedagogy they'll need to be successful in the classroom.

Texas' 'wild west' teacher prep landscape could make teacher shortage worse
(Dallas Morning News, April 20, 2022)
An in-depth look at Texas's loose rules governing educator preparation programs. Former NCTQ President Kate Walsh shares her concerns that the large-scale, for-profit alternative teacher preparation model in Texas does not function in the interest of teachers, as it is more about getting teachers in classrooms quickly than about ensuring they have the knowledge and skills they need to teach.

Cardona urges state, district momentum on teacher shortages
(K-12 Dive, March 28, 2022)
A synopsis of U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona's plans to push state policymakers, higher education leaders, and school districts to use pandemic relief funds to increase teacher hiring, this piece cites data from NCTQ's State of the States: Teacher Preparation Policy (2021) on the number of states that have lowered academic requirements for entry into preparation programs. Former NCTQ President Kate Walsh discusses how some states are scaling back on licensure requirements in an effort to broaden the teacher hiring pool, and offers alternative solutions, such as using relief funds to incentivize higher education institutions to redirect teachers to high-need teaching specialties.

OPINION: Why the Chicago Teachers Union Always Gets What It Wants
(The Wall Street Journal, January 14, 2022)
Ted Dabrowki and John Klingner from the Illinois policy organization Wirepoints dissect the Chicago Teachers Union's history of teacher strikes in recent years, pulling in data on how teacher salaries in Chicago Public Schools compare to salaries in other large school districts across the country from NCTQ's Teacher Contract Database.

Georgia teachers hope Kemp fulfills pay raise promise
(Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 5, 2022)
Insight on the progression of state legislation favoring long-promised pay raises for Georgia teachers, including data from NCTQ's Smart Money 2.0 on teachers' lifetime earnings in Gwinnett County Public School and Atlanta Public Schools, two of the state's largest school districts.

A new law in North Carolina aims to retrain an entire state's elementary teachers in the science of reading

(The Seattle Times, November 10, 2021)
The Hechinger Report's Ariel Gilreath highlights North Carolina's efforts to transition all of its schools from using whole language to evidence-based methods of reading instruction, citing data from the NCTQ 2020 Teacher Prep Review: Program Performance in Early Reading Instruction. Former NCTQ President Kate Walsh is interviewed and discusses why the whole language approach can be problematic for students learning how to read and why the literacy curriculum at Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina serves as a model for other teacher prep programs.

Substitute teachers needed for support in Bibb County Schools
(WMGT NBC 41, October 20, 2021)
Shedding light on the shortage of substitute teachers in Georgia's Bibb County School District and officials' efforts to get more coverage, this broadcast news segment cites data on teacher attendance from NCTQ's Roll Call report.

Behind the teacher shortage, an unexpected culprit: Covid relief money
(NBC News, October 1, 2021)
NBC News' Erin Einhorn reports on how COVID relief dollars in Michigan are being spent on raising teacher salaries and causing some teachers to quit their existing jobs in low-paying school districts to take positions in higher-paying school districts. Former NCTQ President Kate Walsh is interviewed and explains why some districts are hesitant to put all of the money into hiring.

VIDEO: How much can some teachers earn in a career? This report gives you an idea
(WGHP Fox 8, August 27, 2021)
An exploration of the earning potential for teachers in North Carolina's Guilford County and Forsyth County Schools using NCTQ's Smart Money 2.0 report, which provides a 90-district comparison of teacher pay trends. NCTQ's Chief of Policy and Programs Shannon Holston is interviewed in the broadcast news segment and offers insight on teacher salary growth over the course of a 30-year career.

Some Prep Programs Do a Better Job of Building Teachers' Knowledge
(Forbes, July 21, 2021)
Education author and journalist Natalie Wexler highlights key findings from new data released by NCTQ on first-attempt pass rates for elementary content teacher licensure tests and delves into case studies for institutions where aspiring teachers have found greater success on these tests that assess critical content knowledge.

Like other school systems, Carroll struggles to recruit a more diverse staff
(The Washington Post, June 7, 2021)
Perspectives from the field on the challenges that Carroll County Public School System in Maryland faces with recruiting and hiring teachers of color, featuring commentary from former NCTQ President Kate Walsh about the contributing factors to the lack of diversity in the teacher workforce.

OPINION: Why public school teachers need paid family and medical leave
(Hechinger Report, April 21, 2021)
An op-ed on why the Biden administration should ensure that public school teachers aren't left out of the push for paid family and medical leave, which includes a quote from NCTQ's Chief of Policy and Programs Shannon Holston and data from our collective bargaining laws tool.

Education lessons from the pandemic
(The Hill, March 13, 2021)
Exploring lessons learned during the pandemic — from remote learning strategies to teacher shortages — using NCTQ's COVID-19 tracker data on how school districts have adapted teacher policies.

Many Maryland schools set to reopen to students on Monday
(Associated Press, February 25, 2021)
As Maryland's most populous school districts reopen and concerned teachers protest, here's a look at how local reopening plans vary using NCTQ data on collective bargaining laws to provide context.

Setting the bar higher
(Inside Higher Education, February 16, 2021)
An in-depth look at NCTQ's Teacher Prep Review: Program Diversity and Admissions (2021) report—from raising admissions standards for prep programs to increasing diversity in the field.

COVID-19 upends classrooms and fewer people study to become teachers, but the class of 2020 can't wait to start
(, January 5, 2021)
Former NCTQ President Kate Walsh speaks on the pandemic's potential impact on the teaching profession.

Did COVID-19 really drive teachers to quit?
(Education Week, November, 12, 2020)
Answering the question of whether COVID-19 has driven more teachers to quit using NCTQ data analysis from several large school districts.

Are aspiring teachers learning classroom management? It varies.
(Education Week, October 20, 2020)
Exploring the importance of training teacher candidates on classroom management skills citing NCTQ's Teacher Prep Review: Clinical Practice and Classroom Management (2020).

PODCAST: The Education Exchange: Preparing better teachers
(Education Next, October 5, 2020)
Former NCTQ President Kate Walsh discusses how teachers have managed to adjust to online instruction during the pandemic, and more.

The classroom and COVID-19: Teachers say they want to be 'treated as though we're real people
(, August 31, 2020)
A look at concerns surrounding teacher contracts in the era of COVID-19 using data analysis from NCTQ's Teacher Contract Database.

The next generation of teachers grapples with uncertainty as coronavirus shuts schools
(, May 3, 2020)
Former NCTQ President Kate Walsh discusses the challenges teacher candidates face after certification as they attempt to enter the teacher workforce during the pandemic.

Coronavirus is making it easier to become a teacher in a state with severe shortage of educators
(Hechinger Report, May 1, 2020)
Former NCTQ President Kate Walsh speaks on why Mississippi's decision to temporarily waive licensing tests for teacher prep candidates is a step in the wrong direction.

Most MN teacher prep programs expose educators to science of reading
(, January 29, 2020)
Former NCTQ President Kate Walsh discusses how Minnesota's teacher prep programs rank in our Teacher Prep Review: Program Performance in Early Reading Instruction (2020) for training aspiring educators in scientifically-based methods of reading instruction.

Where are all the special educators?
(, January 13, 2020)
NCTQ offers three solutions for school districts on how to combat shortages of special education teachers.

An urgent call for improved reading and literacy instruction
(, November 12, 2019)
NCTQ is named as a leading education group championing evidence-based methods of reading instruction for aspiring educators enrolled in teacher preparation programs.

Hackles rise as Chicago teachers strike drags into day 10
(Associated Press, October 30, 2019)
A look at the 2019 teacher strike in Chicago citing NCTQ's data analysis of teacher contracts across the country.

Chancellor pledges to review D.C.'s controversial teacher evaluation system
(The Washington Post, October 20, 2019)
A look at the D.C. Public Schools Chancellor's strategy for instituting a rigorous review of the city's teacher evaluation system, using NCTQ's State of the States (2019) data on the number of states that use student standardized test scores to evaluate teacher performance.

Chicago teachers say pay bump can't fix deeper problems
(Associated Press, October 17, 2019)
Addressing teacher pay concerns in Chicago's Public School System amid a teacher strike, NCTQ data on teacher pay is cited to provide context.

The problem isn't a teacher shortage, it's a lack of innovation in how teachers may work
(, October 9, 2019)
In exploring innovative ways to implement education reform, this piece includes NCTQ data and analysis on state policies regarding strategic compensation.

No thanks, Obama: 9 states no longer require test scores be used to judge teachers
(, October 8, 2019)
Highlights NCTQ's State of the States: Teacher & Principal Evaluation Policy (2019) report that outlines how states are backing away from the Obama-era "Race to the Top" initiative, which offered a chance at federal dollars for including student test scores as a measure of success in teacher evaluations.

Teachers want higher pay, but pensions swallow up the money
(The Wall Street Journal, September 30, 2019)
Making the case for getting rid of defined-benefit retirement plans for former educators in order to increase pay for current teachers using NCTQ data analysis on defined-benefit pension plans to provide context.

More than four in 10 Warwick teachers were absent for 10 or more days last year
(The Boston Globe, September 20, 2019)
An assessment of teacher absences in Warwick, Mass., using NCTQ data on the amount of sick days allotted to educators in several of the largest school districts according to union contracts.

Ensuring equitable access to great teachers: state policy priorities
(, April 29, 2019)
Former NCTQ Vice President Elizabeth Ross explains the requirements for states around ensuring educator equity under the federal Examining the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and provides key findings from NCTQ's review of state plans to make sure all students have equal access to effective teachers.

Think you want to be a teacher? Read this first
(, April 18, 2019)
Insight on how to equip teacher candidates with the tools necessary to succeed in the classroom using NCTQ's 2019 debut book, Start Here to Become a Teacher.

Why so many teachers can't pass a licensing test — and why it matters
(, March 13, 2019)
A look into possible reasons why some teacher candidates have difficulty becoming certified teachers, inspired by the new data from NCTQ's A Fair Chance report.

You're more likely to pass the bar than an elementary teacher licensing exam
(Education Week, March 5, 2019)
An in-depth look at NCTQ's analysis on the rate of teacher candidates that fail the Praxis elementary education content test, which is the most widely used test of its kind.

PODCAST: The Education Exchange: Subject tests for prospective elementary teachers have high failure rates
(Education Next, March 4, 2019)
Former NCTQ President Kate Walsh discusses how to strengthen and diversify the teacher workforce.