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NCLB Outrages

Federal HQT

On Wednesday, the US Department of Education (ED) released the results of their state highly qualified teacher (HQT) review. The results do not make the increasingly confrontational Department happy.

As background, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) establishes the goal of having all core academic subject classes taught by highly qualified teachers (HQT) by the end of the 2005-06 school year and requires that poor and minority children are taught at the same rates as other children by highly qualified and experienced teachers. To be “highly qualified” a teacher must hold a bachelors degree, have obtained a state teaching certification or passed the state teacher licensing examination, and have demonstrated knowledge of the subject that she or he teaches. The details of the standards were left to the states to decide and the standards also slightly vary for veteran teachers and paraprofessionals.

The end of the 2005-2006 school year, however, came and went and no states were in compliance. Having no other choice but to extend the deadlines and rattle their saber, ED threatened nine states with sanctions if significant progress on HQT was not made evident in quick fashion. Those states included: Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

ED warned all states that they must take immediate and good faith steps towards compliance or else they would face a number of sanctions, including withholding Title I funds. Stating that the “day of reckoning” was coming, ED set the new HQT submission deadline to July 7th and adjusted the new 100% compliance date to the end of the 2006-07 school year.

All states were responsive and made the revised July 7th deadline but, according to Wednesday’s result release, it is apparent that much work remains. Thirty seven states, plus DC and Puerto Rico, were “deficient” and met only some of the criteria. They must submit new data or plans by September 29 or risk facing fiscal penalties. Four states failed altogether: Hawaii, Missouri, Utah and Wisconsin. They must submit new plans and undergo monthly auditing of their teacher quality data. Nine states earned an “acceptable” grade for their plans. The nine include: Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina and South Dakota.

Keeping in line with ED’s more vigilant compliance monitoring, it is expected that ED will levy sanctions against states that are not on the compliance track by September 29 – and you can be sure that the states will make the federal HQT standards a major point of contention in the upcoming NCLB reauthorization debates.

— Denis P. Doyle
The Doyle Report


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