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August 02, 2004 Extra Credit
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August 2, 2004

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Georgia: Ensuring All Teachers Are Highly Qualified

Because of the proven correlation between teacher quality and student academic achievement, No Child Left Behind requires that all teachers of core academic areas be "highly qualified" by the end of the 2005-2006 school year. In general, a highly qualified teacher must have a bachelor’s degree, full state certification or licensure, and be able to demonstrate competency in each core academic subject he or she teaches. The following are excerpts from a recent article in The Telegraph (Macon, Ga.), highlighting the progress the Houston County School System and the whole state of Georgia are making in ensuring that all their teachers are highly qualified:

"When Sandra Frey tells her first-grade students at Shirley Hills Elementary School to listen up, she knows what she's talking about. And so do virtually all of Houston County's teachers. … Out of 1,803 teachers in the school district, 99.6 percent are considered ‘highly qualified,’ according to school administrators."

"‘I want every child in the school district to have the best teacher they can have,’ said Ron Busbee, assistant superintendent of human resources for the Houston County Board of Education. Academic achievement begins with a highly qualified teacher that knows his or her content area, he said. ‘If a teacher doesn’t know … (the student) is already a step behind.’"

"‘It’s on the radar screen of every principal and superintendent in Georgia,’ said the GPSC Executive Secretary F.D. Toth, who said all Georgia school districts were raising their standards faster then most states. Of Georgia’s 101,000 teachers, about 94 percent are highly qualified, Toth said. And those numbers ‘have gone up,’ he added."

"‘I think it's important to be certified in the area you teach,’ Frey said. ‘The more you know, the more you can impart to your student.’"

"According to Busbee, all Houston County teachers should reach the ‘highly qualified’ status by the middle of the school year. Before the NCLB requirement, only half of middle school teachers were asked to teach in their field of degree expertise, he said. Teachers also were only required to teach three class periods in their content area of knowledge, and for two classes could teach any subject. ‘To me, that’s cheating kids,’ Busbee said. ‘This (NCLB) is a good requirement. It puts more pressure on the school district to get good teachers.’"

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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: 03/28/2008