Because of America’s inconsistency with teacher background checks, teachers accused of misconduct have been able to sneak to a different state and maintain their teaching license.
Laws vary from state to state, meaning that not every state uses the same uniform practices to screen teaching applicants. This allows a teacher that might have been unfit to teach in Pennsylvania to move to California and start anew.
How does your state rank on teacher background checks?
USA TODAY shed light on the matter by collecting data from school officials across the nation in order to give each state a ranking on how well it screens teachers before hiring them. The scale ranges from A to F and gives up to 40 points for how a state checks an applicant’s background, up to 40 points for if the state shares the licensing and disciplinary information publicly or in a nationwide database, and up to 20 points if the state has laws that forces educators to report misconduct to the state.
Overall, the only states to score the top ranking of A were Oregon, Hawaii, North Dakota, Ohio, Vermont, Alabama, and South Carolina. Eight states had a ranking of B, 13 states had a ranking of C, 10 states had a ranking of D, and 12 states had a ranking of F.
Results of Teacher Background Checks Study by USA TODAY NETWORK.
|A||Alabama, Hawaii, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, and Vermont.|
|B||Arizona, California, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington.|
|C||Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.|
|D||Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.|
|F||Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia.|
Most of the lower states only had district-level teacher background checks instead of state-level teacher background checks. Some states also did not have records of disciplined teachers at the state level, meaning that even if a background check was performed, it would come back clean.
Some educators across the nation are taking steps to improve their rating. Hendry County schools in Florida are now running a Google search on all applicants, while Collier and Lee schools host an onboarding session with all new teachers to show them their professional standards.