March 18, 2004, Extra Credit
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March 18, 2004
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 March 17
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Tapping Into The Flexibility Of No Child Left Behind

Last summer, Secretary of Education Rod Paige announced the formation of the Teacher Assistance Corps (TAC), comprising 45 educators, leaders from higher education and national experts to better understand and support state efforts to implement the highly qualified teacher requirements of No Child Left Behind. A common theme emerged from their frequent meetings, visits and listening sessions with teachers and state and local officials across the country: States haven't been taking full advantage of flexibility already at their disposal through No Child Left Behind. The following are some of these untapped areas:

  1. HOUSSE for Current Teachers
    No Child Left Behind does not require current teachers to return to school, get a degree in every subject they teach, or take a test in every subject to demonstrate that they are highly qualified. The law allows them to provide an alternate method (HOUSSE) for experienced teachers to demonstrate subject-matter competency that recognizes, among other things, the experience, expertise, and professional training garnered over time in the profession.

  2. Middle School Teacher Requirements
    Importantly, states have the authority to define which grades constitute elementary and middle school. States may determine, by reviewing the degree of technicality of the subject matter being taught and the rigor of knowledge needed by the teacher, whether demonstrating competency as an elementary or as a middle school teacher is appropriate. In addition, states may approve rigorous content-area assessments that are developed specifically for middle school teachers aligned with middle school content and academic standards.

  3. Testing Flexibility
    NCLB provides flexibility in developing assessments for teachers to demonstrate subject-matter competency. States may tailor teacher tests to the subjects and level of knowledge needed for effective instruction.

  4. Special Education Teachers
    The highly qualified teacher requirements apply only to teachers providing direct instruction in core academic subjects. Special educators 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.

For U.S. Department of Education resources for teachers, please visit:


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: 03/19/2004