Highly Qualified Teachers

May 23, 2008 | Blog

A new U.S. Department of Education analysis reports on the percentage of teachers working in America’s schools who are ‘highly qualified’. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, all teachers of core academic subjects must hold at least a bachelor’s degree, have full state certification, and demonstrate knowledge in the core academic subjects they teach. The application of this law varies from state to state however.

During the 2006-07 school year, 94 percent of core academic classes nationwide were staffed by a highly-qualified teacher (HQT). However, when you scratch beneath the surface, the data reveals inequitable access to HQTs for students who attend high-poverty schools. At the elementary level, 93.5% of classes in high-poverty schools were taught by a HQT as compared to 96.6% in low-poverty schools. The gap is much larger at the secondary level, where only 88.7% of classes in high-poverty schools had a HQT versus 95.4% in low-poverty schools.

In a majority of states (48 for secondary and 38 for elementary), high-poverty schools were less likely to have classes taught by HQTs than low-poverty schools.

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    May 27, 2008

    I find the 94% "highly qualified" figure hard to believe. It just seems awfully high to me -- and if it's high overall, then the situation is even less satisfactory in high-poverty schools.

    The authors of last year's report on this were openly skeptical of some of the state reports, apparently believing that states used the flexibility available under the statute to grandfather teachers in under state definitions.

    Until someone convinces me that has changed, I'll continue to look at these Department of Education reports with a very jaundiced eye.

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