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No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Standard for "Highly Qualified"

General Rule
To be highly qualified under NCLB, also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), a teacher must have:
1. At least a bachelor’s degree; and
2. Full state certification; and
3. Demonstrated subject-matter competency in the core academic subjects assigned.

All teachers in core academic subjects must have been highly qualified by the end of the 2006-07 school year (regardless of whether they are teaching in a Title I program). Teachers hired after the first day of instruction of the 2002-03 school year who teach a core academic subject in a Title I program must be highly qualified immediately.

Core academic subjects
• English
• Reading or language arts
• Mathematics
• Science
• Foreign languages
• Civics and government
• Economics
• Arts (art, music, theatre arts and dance)
• History
• Geography

Demonstrating Subject-matter Competency
Subject-matter competency, the third requirement, can be demonstrated at the elementary level by passing the appropriate ExCET/TExES or by meeting the High Objective Uniform Standard of Evaluation (HOUSE). Specialist Elementary Education Teachers: A recent change in the U.S. Department of Education’s interpretation of “highly qualified” requires some specialist elementary education teachers, such as art or music teachers, to hold generalist certificates as well as their specialist certificates. For more information see New Interpretation of Highly Qualified Teacher Standards for Elementary Single-subject Teachers.

Competency can be demonstrated at the secondary level by passing the appropriate ExCET/TExES, meeting HOUSE, or holding an academic major or the equivalent in the subject taught.

See below for details on HOUSE for elementary and secondary teachers.

Special Education
Texas requires teachers who teach special education to have a special education certificate. NCLB requires teachers who teach special education to be “highly qualified” in the subjects they teach.

Example: If a special education teacher teaches math, science and English to special education students in grades 9-12, the teacher would have to prove competency in each of the three subjects (either by passing the content ExCET/TExES, having an undergraduate major or meeting HOUSE).

Example: If a special education teacher teaches math, science and English to special education students in PK-6, the teacher could demonstrate competency by using HOUSE for elementary teachers as long as she can demonstrate that English/language arts, math, science and social studies are all represented in the 24 points through experience, college coursework or professional development. Note: She has to have social studies points even though she is not teaching social studies.

TEA releases “highly qualified” resource for special education teachers
The Texas Education Agency has released a chart to help special education teachers understand changes to the definition of a “highly qualified” educator passed as part of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). You can view the chart at

Possible Flexibility for Special Ed Teachers
Teacher-of-record: Only the teacher-of-record has to be “highly qualified.” The teacher-of-record is the teacher responsible for the class who gives assessments, issues grades, etc. If a special education teacher pulls special education students out of a regular class for supplemental help or tutoring, she may not have to be highly qualified.

Special education teachers are not required to demonstrate subject-matter competency in any core academic subject if they are only: (1) providing consultation services to other teachers, such as adapting curricula, using behavioral supports and interventions, or selecting appropriate accommodations for children with study skills or organizational skills; or (2)reinforcing instruction that the child has already received from a highly qualified teacher in a core academic subject.

Life skills classes: Teachers may not have to be highly qualified if they are teaching students with disabilities in cases where 90 percent of students are receiving functional (life) skills instruction (identified as participating in a functional-based LDAA assessment) and are not receiving instructions in the TEKS.

NCLB: Highly Qualified and the HOUSE Standard

The Texas Education Agency released the High Objective Uniform Standard of Evaluation (HOUSE)—the alternative method for experienced teachers to demonstrate competency to meet the “highly qualified” standard of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Only "experienced teachers" can use the HOUSE option. TEA required all experienced teachers (those hired before the first day of instruction of the 2005-06 school year) to complete the HOUSE procedures by June 1, 2007. Exceptions are listed below.

Beginning with the 2007-08 school year, HOUSE procedures will be approved only for the following reasons:

  1. Experienced or newly hired multi-subject secondary teachers in eligible rural schools who are highly qualified in a subject when hired may use HOUSE to demonstrate competency in additional subjects within three years of their hire date.
  2. Multi-subject special education teachers new to teaching or new to teaching special education may use HOUSE to demonstrate competency in additional subjects within two years of their hire date if they are highly qualified in language arts, mathematics, or science at the time of hire. This option may only be implemented after completing one year of teaching.
  3. Visiting international teachers participating in SBEC/TEA recognized foreign teacher exchange programs may use HOUSE to demonstrate highly qualified teacher status for a period not to exceed three years.
  4. Experienced secondary teachers eligible to use HOUSE option prior to end of the 2006-07 school year who were highly qualified in prior assignment and are subsequently asked or required to add or change teaching assignments may use HOUSE to demonstrate highly qualified status in new assignments. This use of HOUSE is not available for teachers who request changes in assignment and will be phased out at the end of 2008-09.
  5. Experienced secondary teachers of a foreign language in which Texas does not currently provide both a written and oral teacher certification exam may use HOUSE to demonstrate highly qualified status. This option will be phased out as additional written and oral certification exams are developed and implemented. As applicable certification exams are implemented for a foreign language, teachers of that foreign language will no longer be able to use this HOUSE option.
  6. Experienced secondary teachers may continue to use HOUSE to demonstrate subject-matter competency in mathematics or science. This option is in preparation for the new 4 x 4 high school graduation requirements and will be phased out at the end of 2012-13.
  7. Any experienced teacher who is documented as highly qualified by their district and who is subsequently determined by TEA not to be highly qualified during the highly qualified teacher validation process using the original method, but who is determined to be highly qualified using HOUSE options may be documented as highly qualified at TEA’s discretion. This option is intended for teachers who were found to be highly qualified based on documentation provided (HOUSE options) but not by the method (certification exam or college coursework) used by their district. This option is only to be implemented when the district is part of the highly qualified teacher validation process and has made an error. TEA will notify the district when, and if, the HOUSE option may be used for a teacher.

The HOUSE standard will be most relevant for educators who took the TECAT and have not subsequently taken an ExCET/TExES and also for those educators who are teaching in an area not covered by their certification (out-of-field).

NCLB: Requirements for Paraprofessionals

Under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, all Title I paraprofessionals must have a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent (including paraprofessionals who serve as translators or who conduct parental involvement activities). All Title I paraprofessionals who have any instructional support duties must satisfy one of the following criteria:

  1. Completed two years of study at an institution of higher education [further defined as completion of 48 semester hours (or equivalent trimester hours) of college coursework or an applicable number of semester hours as defined by the institution of higher education attended, whichever is less]; or
  2. Obtained an associate’s (or higher) degree; or
  3. Met a rigorous standard of quality and be able to demonstrate, through a formal state or local academic assessment, knowledge of and the ability to assist in instructing reading, writing and mathematics (or knowledge of, and the ability to assist in instructing reading readiness, writing readiness and mathematics readiness, as appropriate).

All paraprofessionals who provide instructional support in a program supported with Title I, Part A funds are covered by NCLB, including paraprofessionals who:

  1. Provide one-on-one tutoring if such tutoring is scheduled at a time when a student would not otherwise receive instruction from a teacher;
  2. Assist with classroom management, such as organizing instructional and other materials;
  3. Provide instructional assistance in a computer laboratory;
  4. Conduct parental involvement activities;
  5. Provide support in a library or media center;
  6. Act as a translator; or
  7. Provide instructional support services under the direct supervision of a highly qualified teacher.

Visit Teacher Quality and Title 1 Paraprofessional Qualifications (MS PowerPoint) and for more information.

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