Probing teacher backgrounds difficult

Concerns in Congress about U.S. government involvement in schools have prevented the creation of a federal teacher database, but a prohibition against states transferring teachers accused of misconduct was included in the recent overhaul of the No Child Left Behind Act, according to USA Today.

"Many states' discipline records are not online. Those that are can be difficult to find, hard to search and lead to incomplete or redacted documentation obscuring what the teacher did," the newspaper reported.

The report graded states’ teacher background websites. It gave Georgia’s site a “C,” knocking it for not sharing many teachers’ misconduct information with other states but praising Georgia’s mandatory teacher misconduct reporting laws.

Paul Shaw, ethics director for the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, which certifies teachers, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that most teachers who earned demerits got a warning or reprimand for a minor offense, and Georgia doesn’t report those. The state only reports teachers with a suspended, revoked or denied license, and typically reports 60 cases a month, he said.

Of 95 sanctioned teachers who were reported to Georgia, the information on 81 came through a national information clearing house (the National Association of State Departments of Teacher Education and Certification), but an employee “just forgot” to record eight of the cases, Shaw said. The other six went unnoticed because of other human error and a computer glitch, he said. His agency handles about 120,000 certificates per year.

Look up Georgia teachers' backgrounds and credentials here.

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