The federal definition of a "Highly Qualified" teacher has been one who is: fully certified and/or licensed by the state; holds at least a bachelor's degree from a four-year institution; and demonstrates competence in each core academic subject area in which the teacher teaches.

That is important to note because the NCLB Act required that all teachers of core academic subjects working in Title I schools or programs hired after the first day of the 2002-03 school year be "Highly Qualified" by the end of the 2005/2006 school year.

The goal was to move us away from the all too common phenomena where the children with the greatest academic needs were taught by those with the least experience and conversely those with the greatest academic advantages were taught by the most senior and most seasoned teachers. It was supposed to end the era of concentrating new and inexperienced teachers in high minority and low SES schools.

But an obscure bit of language was inserted into last weeks Omnibus Spending bill... You know the one that extended unemployment and tax cuts that everyone heralded as some great compromise...

This language, not germane to the spending bill itself and seriously under-reported... This language changes the definition of a Highly Qualified Teacher to now include INTERNS!!!

excerpted from HR3082

“Sec. 163. (a) A ‘highly qualified teacher’ includes a teacher who meets the requirements in 34 CFR 200.56(a)(2)(ii), as published in the Federal Register on December 2, 2002.

“(b) This provision is effective on the date of enactment of this provision through the end of the 2012–2013 academic year.

Forgive me for going out into the weeds, but you need to understand what just happened...

 CFR 200.56 defines the term "Highly Qualified Teacher" as used in Federal Legislation. It reads:

200.56 - Definition of “highly qualified teacher.”
To be a highly qualified teacher, a teacher covered under 200.55 must meet the requirements in paragraph (a) and either paragraph (b) or (c) of this section.

(a) In general. (1) Except as provided in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, a teacher covered under 200.55 must (i) Have obtained full State certification as a teacher, which may include certification obtained through alternative routes to certification; or (ii)(A) Have passed the State teacher licensing examination; and (B) Hold a license to teach in the State.

(2) A teacher meets the requirement in paragraph (a)(1) of this section if the teacher (i) Has fulfilled the State's certification and licensure requirements applicable to the years of experience the teacher possesses; or (ii) Is participating in an alternative route to certification program under which (A) The teacher (1) Receives high-quality professional development that is sustained, intensive, and classroom-focused in order to have a positive and lasting impact on classroom instruction, before and while teaching; (2) Participates in a program of intensive supervision that consists of structured guidance and regular ongoing support for teachers or a teacher mentoring program; (3) Assumes functions as a teacher only for a specified period of time not to exceed three years; and (4) Demonstrates satisfactory progress toward full certification as prescribed by the State; and (B) The State ensures, through its certification and licensure process, that the provisions in paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section are met.

(3) A teacher teaching in a public charter school in a State must meet the certification and licensure requirements, if any, contained in the State's charter school law.

(4) If a teacher has had certification or licensure requirements waived on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basis, the teacher is not highly qualified.

(b) Teachers new to the profession. A teacher covered under 200.55 who is new to the profession also must (1) Hold at least a bachelor's degree; and (2) At the public elementary school level, demonstrate, by passing a rigorous State test (which may consist of passing a State certification or licensing test), subject knowledge and teaching skills in reading/language arts, writing, mathematics, and other areas of the basic elementary school curriculum; or (3) At the public middle and high school levels, demonstrate a high level of competency by (i) Passing a rigorous State test in each academic subject in which the teacher teaches (which may consist of passing a State certification or licensing test in each of these subjects); or (ii) Successfully completing in each academic subject in which the teacher teaches (A) An undergraduate major; (B) A graduate degree; (C) Coursework equivalent to an undergraduate major; or (D) Advanced certification or credentialing.

(c) Teachers not new to the profession. A teacher covered under 200.55 who is not new to the profession also must (1) Hold at least a bachelor's degree; and (2)(i) Meet the applicable requirements in paragraph (b)(2) or (3) of this section; or (ii) Based on a high, objective, uniform State standard of evaluation in accordance with section 9101(23)(C)(ii) of the ESEA, demonstrate competency in each academic subject in which the teacher teaches.

For simplicity, the full 2002 Federal definition is presented in red. The Highlighted area is the small subparagraph that NOW constitutes a "Highly Qualified Teacher". So when you read through the text, take note of the fact that the RED text contains the requirements that can now be waived when determining who is "Highly Qualified".

WHAT THIS MEANS is that the same inexperienced and under-qualified teachers that have been concentrated in high minority and low SES schools around the country, CAN NOW STAY in those schools, because rather than actually placing highly qualified teachers in there to help those children most in need, the Government has simply changed the definition of "Highly Qualified" to now include folks who are still IN TRAINING.

This is SHAMEFUL and APPALLING, and every activist and organization that is serious about Education should say so.

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