November 20, 2003, Extra Credit
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November 20, 2003
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 November 19
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Defining Highly Qualified, Part 1

Because research has shown that the quality of a teacher is one of the most important components of how well students learn, the bipartisan No Child Left Behind law requires that there be a "highly qualified" teacher in every public school classroom by the end of the 2005-2006 school year. In general, under No Child Left Behind, a highly qualified teacher must have:

  1. A bachelor's degree
  2. Full state certification or licensure as defined by the state
  3. Demonstrated competency, as defined by the state, in each core academic subject he or she teaches.
The first requirement is straightforward. For the second, the state has freedom to define certification as it sees fit. States can also use this opportunity to streamline certification requirements to essential elements or to create alternate routes to certification.

Regarding the third requirement, the need to demonstrate competence in the subjects the teacher teaches, states are provided with significant flexibility to design ways to do this, especially for core academic teachers with experience. There are also requirements within the law to consider the differences between elementary and middle and high school teachers as well as between newly hired teachers and those with experience.

Tomorrow's Extra Credit, "Defining Highly Qualified, Part 2," will discuss states' flexibility to develop a high, objective, uniform state system of evaluation (HOUSSE) to determine whether experienced teachers meet the subject matter competency requirements of No Child Left Behind.

Teachers interested in learning more about No Child Left Behind's highly qualified teacher requirements can order a free copy of the U.S. Department of Education's "Toolkit for Teachers" by:

  • Calling the U.S. Department of Education's Publications Center (ED Pubs) toll-free at 1-877-4-ED-PUBS (1-877-433-7827); TTY/TDD: 1-877-576-7734; FAX: 1-301-470-1244;
  • Ordering online at:;
  • Emailing; or
  • Writing to request a copy: ED Pubs, P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD 20794-1398.

About Extra Credit
NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.

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Last Modified: 11/24/2003