What Makes a Highly Qualified Teacher Under NCLB?|
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) places a major emphasis on the impact of teacher quality on student achievement. It mandates that by the 2005-2006 school year all teachers will be "highly qualified."
To be considered "highly qualified" under NCLB, teachers must meet the following three criteria:
Criterion one is straightforward; criteria two and three vary among states, depending on the standards required by the respective state to achieve full state licensure.
- hold a bachelor's degree,
- hold full state certification or licensure, and
- Demonstrated competence in subject knowledge in the core subject areas of English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history and geography.
"New" Middle and High School Teachers
|NCLB recognizes teachers as "new" and "not new." New high school and middle school teachers must enter the teaching force as "highly qualified." New teachers are considered those who hold state licensure certificates dated July 1, 2002 or later. On the federal level, this means competency must be demonstrated through either a rigorous test in each subject they teach or by completing an academic major or coursework equivalent to a major, an advanced degree, or advanced certification or credentials in the subject they teach.
||"New teachers are considered those who hold state licensure certificates dated July 1, 2002, or later."
|More importantly, new teachers must actually follow guidelines for the state in which they intend to work. States have varying procedures for earning initial licensure, but typically they include a competency assessment and a bachelor's degree in the subject to be taught. New teachers should contact their state department of educationto determine requirements for licensure.
"Not New" Middle and High School Teachers
"Not new," or experienced, teachers of core academic subjects must be "highly qualified" no later than the end of the 2005-2006 school year. The core academic areas are English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography.
Experienced middle school and high school teachers must demonstrate competency in the subject they teach through at least one the following:
States Define Standards for Existing Teachers with HOUSSE
- a major in the subject they teach,
- credits equivalent to a major in the subject,
- passage of a state-developed test,
- completion of state HOUSSE requirements (see below),
- a graduate degree, or
- National Board Certification.
Important to all "not new" teachers is knowledge of their respective state's High Objective Uniform State Standard of Evaluation, or HOUSSE, legislation. HOUSSE outlines the requirements veteran teachers must follow to prove qualifications. Usually, proof consists of a combination of teaching experience, professional development, and knowledge in the subject garnered over time in the profession, but the combination varies from state to state. Teachers should contact their state department of education to determine the steps they must take to prove "highly qualified" status.
|Exceptions to "Highly Qualified" Standards
Teachers in unique situations find some flexibility in NCLB's requirements. Three important exceptions apply to science teachers, multi-subject teachers, and special education teachers. NCLB extends the following exceptions to these teachers:
- Science Teachers are often needed to teach in more than one field of science. State requirements for science endorsement vary from a "broad field" science certificate to individual field certificates, such as for physics or chemistry. The demand for science teachers is high, so as of 2003, states may decide to allow science teachers to demonstrate that they are "highly qualified" with either type of certificate.
- Multi-Subject Teachers do not have to return to school or take a test in every subject to demonstrate that they are "highly qualified." NCLB allows states to create an alternative method (High, Objective, Uniform State Standard of Evaluation or HOUSSE) to certify they know the subject they teach. For multi-subject teachers, HOUSSE requirements for each subject they teach are impractical. States may develop one process for current, multi-subject teachers to demonstrate the experience, expertise, and professional training in a subject.
- Special Education Teachers who do not directly instruct students in core academic subjects or who provide only consultation to "highly qualified" teachers in adapting curricula, using behavioral supports and interventions, or selecting appropriate accommodations, do not need to demonstrate subject-matter competency in those subjects.
Funding the "Highly Qualified" Mandate
NCLB requires that LEAs earmark percentages of Title I and Title II money to help teachers attain "highly qualified" status. LEAs are given considerable discretion in determining the professional development needed to promote "highly qualified" status.
Nevertheless, NCLB recognizes the following activities as a few of the acceptable uses of Title I and Title II funding:
Teachers who are concerned about demonstrating high quality status should contact their local education agency or district to inquire about available professional and financial support.
- Signing and retention bonuses and differential pay for NCLB "highly qualified" teachers
- Bonuses and reimbursement for coursework in high need areas, i.e., math, science, special education, English language learners
- Bonuses and coursework toward advanced degrees or National Board Certification
- Merit pay linked to measurable increases in student academic achievement
- Teacher mentoring, induction, and support programs for new teachers
- High quality professional development to increase core content knowledge
- Training in use of technology and data analysis
- High quality professional development to prepare students to meet challenging state standards
This article was contributed by Janice West Christy, English Department Chair at Louisa County High School in Louisa, Virginia.