March 15, 2004, Extra Credit
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March 15, 2004
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 March 12
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Increased Flexibility Helps Rural Teachers Become Highly Qualified

Because of the proven correlation between teacher quality and student academic achievement, No Child Left Behind includes provisions stating that all teachers of core academic areas must be "highly qualified." In order to assist states in meeting this requirement, the U.S. Department of Education is providing three new areas of flexibility, which take effect immediately, for teachers to demonstrate that they are highly qualified. Today's Extra Credit highlights one of those areas—the increased flexibility for rural teachers:

Approximately one-third -- or almost 5,000 -- of all school districts in the United States are considered rural. As Department officials have traveled the country listening to teachers and state and district officials, they frequently have heard that the highly qualified teacher provisions of the No Child Left Behind law don't adequately accommodate the special challenges faced by teachers in small, rural districts. Often, the teachers in these areas are required to teach more than one academic subject. This new flexibility is designed to recognize this challenge and provide additional time for these teachers to prove that they are highly qualified.

Under this new policy, teachers in eligible, rural districts who are highly qualified in at least one subject will have three years to become highly qualified in the additional subjects they teach. They must also be provided professional development, intense supervision or structured mentoring to become highly qualified in those additional subjects.

Currently, more than $5.1 billion in federal funds are available for teacher-related programs, with $2.9 billion specifically geared to help states meet the highly qualified teacher requirements. These funds, under the Improving Teacher Quality State Grants (Title II of NCLB), may be used for teacher training, professional development, recruitment and retention activities.

Tomorrow's Extra Credit will highlight the increased flexibility for science teachers.


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: 03/15/2004