USDE releases new interpretation of "highly qualified"
LAN Update - Archive 10/21/09
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) issued a communiqué this week advising school districts of the U.S. Department of Education's
new interpretation of requirements for some elementary school teachers to be considered "highly qualified" under the No Child Left
Behind Act (NCLB). Read the TEA correspondence.
According to the department's new interpretation, a teacher who was new to the profession in the 2009-10 school year and demonstrated subject area competency by passing a certification exam in a specific subject area will no longer be considered "highly qualified" for elementary grades (grades pre-k - six) until he/she has also passed a generalist certification exam. The state had previously determined that an elementary teacher who was new to the profession and who had passed a subject-specific certification exam would be considered "highly qualified" to teach the applicable subject area at the elementary school level. While the subject specific tests will still demonstrate the teacher's competency in the specific subject, under the department's new interpretation the teacher will also have to pass a generalist exam that tests subject knowledge in reading, writing, mathematics, science and social studies in order to be deemed "highly qualified."
An elementary school teacher who began teaching prior to 2009-10 school year and was deemed "highly qualified" under the prior interpretation of NCLB will continue to be considered "highly qualified" as long as the teacher remains in the same teaching assignment. According to TEA, portability of those "highly qualified" determinations between Texas public schools also remains in effect for such a teacher as long as she remains in the same teaching assignment.
TEA is currently in contact with the department to request flexibility in implementing this new interpretation and/or a timeline for Texas teachers to comply with the newly interpreted "highly qualified" requirement. ATPE is also urging the department to give Texas flexibility in order to minimize the negative impact of the new interpretation on affected teachers, students and school districts, or to delay the implementation of the new interpretation until after Congress takes up the reauthorization of NCLB.
While the state is waiting for additional guidance from the department, it is important to note that TEA is not requiring districts or teachers to take any immediate action in response to this new interpretation of the "highly qualified" requirements. TEA also does not recommend that districts terminate the employment of any teachers who might not meet the new "highly qualified." TEA has simply district administrators of this development in the event that they or their teachers wish to take steps now to prepare for compliance with the new interpretation.
ATPE Governmental Relations will continue to monitor this development as it unfolds and will report on any significant changes.
If you have any questions please contact ATPE Governmental Relations at (800) 777-ATPE or e-mail us at ATPE Governmental Relations.
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