Title II-A: Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High Quality Teachers and Principals
What are the core academic subjects defined by NCLB/HQ?
The core academic subjects defined by NCLB/HQ, Section 9101 (11) of the ESEA, are:
- reading/language arts
- math, science
- foreign languages
- civics and government
- the arts (art/visual art, dance, theater, and music)
Are physical education, health, business, and instructional technology considered to be core academic subjects?
No. The federal statute does not consider these to be core academic subjects and therefore, individuals who teach these subjects are not required to meet the Highly Qualified requirements by the federal NCLB legislation. This does not mean, however, that these subjects are any less important to the academic success of students throughout the Commonwealth. Teachers who teach these subjects must continue to meet the state's laws and regulations related to licensure and relicensure, and should continue to participate in professional development activities that strengthen their professional knowledge and skills.
Reporting & Classifying HQT
Do early childhood, preschool and kindergarten teachers need to meet the Highly Qualified requirements?
Yes. Early childhood, preschool and kindergarten teachers are considered to be elementary teachers and, therefore, must meet the Highly Qualified requirements by: possessing a Bachelor's degree; possessing a valid and active Massachusetts teaching license; and demonstrating subject matter competency in the areas of the preschool through grade 2, curriculum.
Do charter schoolteachers have to meet the Highly Qualified teacher requirements?
Yes. In order to meet the Highly Qualified requirement, Massachusetts Commonwealth charter schoolteachers who teach core academic subjects do not need a Massachusetts license, pursuant to 603 CMR 1.07, but must hold a Bachelor's degree and demonstrate competence in the subject area in which they teach. Commonwealth charter schoolteachers may demonstrate subject matter competence through any one of the options available to elementary and middle/secondary teachers, based on the setting in which the teacher teaches.
Horace Mann charter school teachers must meet the licensure component of the Highly Qualified teacher provision since they are required to be licensed by Massachusetts state law.
Do teachers in vocational technical schools need to meet the Highly Qualified teacher requirements?
Teachers who teach core academic courses in vocational technical schools are required to meet the definition of a Highly Qualified teacher. A teacher who teaches a core academic course in a vocational technical school must hold a Bachelor's degree, possess a valid and active MA teaching license, and demonstrate subject matter competence in order to be considered Highly Qualified.
Does a sign language teacher who teaches the core academic subjects need to meet the Highly Qualified requirements?
A sign language teacher who teaches the core academic subjects needs to meet the Highly Qualified teacher requirements only if the teacher is the sole teacher of the student in that core academic subject(s). If the teacher who is "signing" is taking the words and concepts of a Highly Qualified teacher, there is no requirement for the signer to be Highly Qualified under NCLB.
Do teachers who teach high school students in the core subjects in a night-school setting need to be Highly Qualified?
Yes. Regardless of the night school setting, the teachers must meet the Highly Qualified requirements for the core academic subjects that they teach.
Do long-term substitutes have to meet the Highly Qualified definition?
Title I of NCLB requires that parents must be notified if their child has received instruction for 4 or more consecutive weeks by a teacher who is not Highly Qualified, this would include long-term substitutes. Hence, as outlined in USDE guidance, we recommend encouraging long-term substitutes to meet the requirements for a Highly Qualified teacher.
How do the Highly Qualified requirements apply to individuals working in extended learning time programs?
If services offered outside of regular school hours in a Title I extended learning time program provide instruction in core academic subjects designed to help students meet state or local academic standards, the person(s) providing such core academic instruction must meet the Highly Qualified teacher requirements. However, if an instructor teaching in such a program is not an employee of the school district, the teacher quality requirements do not apply.
An extended learning time program that offers core academic instruction because the district has determined that particular students need additional time to learn to state standards can be distinguished from an after-school program offering academic enrichment, tutoring and homework assistance, including supplemental educational services under Section 1116 of NCLB. In the latter case, the highly qualified teacher (and paraprofessional) requirements do not apply. It is up to the district to distinguish between instruction that is provided in extended time and instruction provided in enrichment programs.
Do teachers in adult basic education programs have to be Highly Qualified?
No. Adult basic education teachers do not need to meet the Highly Qualified teacher requirements.
How often will districts be monitored in reporting their HQT percentages? (added on 2/05/07)
The Department will monitor districts' HQ status annually through EPIMS data reported each fall and the Teacher Effectiveness and Quality Improvement Plan submitted each summer.
Subject Matter Competency
What are the options for elementary and middle schoolteachers to demonstrate subject matter competency? (revised on 2/7/11)
Teachers can choose from one of the current options below to demonstrate subject matter competency:
Elementary Teacher Options
OPTION 1: Passing the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) General Curriculum Test; Or
OPTION 2: Completion of a MA HOUSSE (an approved Individual Professional Development Plan aligned with HOUSSE requirements). HOUSSE plans must be initially approved by the principal or a designee*.
Middle/Secondary Schoolteacher Options
OPTION 1: Pass the appropriate MTEL examination;
OPTION 2: Complete an academic major, a graduate degree, coursework equivalent to an academic major; or
OPTION 3: National Board certification in the appropriate subject(s); or
OPTION 4: Completion of a MA HOUSSE (an approved Individual Professional Development Plan aligned with HOUSSE requirements). HOUSSE plans must be initially approved by the principal or a designee*.
*Note: The HOUSSE option is available only to special education and veteran English As a Second Language (ESL) teachers (teachers with at least one year of teaching experience in ESL) who were Highly Qualified (HQ) in math, science , English or reading /language arts at the time of hire. The HOUSSE option was available to teachers of core academic subjects licensed in or prior to 1999 through June 30, 2007. However, after the July 1, 2007 phase out date, all teachers of core academic subjects who have not yet been deemed HQ by their district cannot use the HOUSSE option to demonstrate subject matter competency.
Once teachers have demonstrated subject matter competency in the core subject(s) they teach, do they have to continue to demonstrate competency in subsequent years?
Once a teacher has demonstrated subject matter competency through one of the available options, he/she does not need to continue to demonstrate that competency to maintain the HQT designation. However, in the instance that the educator's teaching assignment, and/or the scope of subject matter taught, changes, the individual may need to demonstrate subject matter competency in the new subject area being taught.
Where can I find a practice MTEL exam? (added on 2/05/07)
The Department has recently developed several online MTEL practice tests. The Department will be adding additional practice tests on an annual basis.
For purposes of choosing the appropriate subject matter competency options, "elementary" refers to teachers who teach which grade levels? (added on 2/05/07)
For purposes of choosing the appropriate subject matter competency options, elementary teachers are those teaching the elementary school curriculum, which is covered by the curriculum frameworks for preschool through grades 5, or 6.
How would an elementary teacher, who teaches a core academic subject in a team teaching model, demonstrate subject matter competency?
The elementary teacher in this case would demonstrate subject matter competency in the subjects of the elementary curriculum for which he/she is primarily responsible for teaching.
How would teachers who solely teach a specific subject, such as reading, music or math, at the elementary level, demonstrate subject matter competency? (revised on 1/11/10)
Elementary teachers who teach a particular subject or subjects of the elementary curriculum need only to demonstrate subject matter competency in those subjects, and not in all of the subjects of the elementary curriculum, through the appropriate subject matter Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL).
Must an educator who teaches social studies, which covers many elements of civics and government, economics, history and geography, demonstrate subject matter competency in all of these sub-areas?
Yes. Teachers must demonstrate subject matter competency in all core subject areas covered under what was formerly referred to as the "social studies" curriculum, now broken down into, history and social science.
Can elementary teachers demonstrate subject matter competency through National Board certification? (revised on 1/11/10)
Yes*. Through the statute does not explicitly provide elementary teachers with an option to demonstrate subject matter competency through National Board certification, states may include National Board certification in their High Objective Uniform State Standard of Evaluation (HOUSSE) option. The Massachusetts HOUSSE (an approved individual professional development plan) provides a means for teachers to include National Board certification in their individual professional development plan, which will satisfy the subject matter competency requirement.
* Currently, the HOUSSE option is available only to SPED and veteran ESL teachers.
What is meant by coursework equivalent to an academic major? (updated on 5/04/07)
In the past, districts defined this for their employees. The Department has determined that at least 30 credits are needed in the core content area to equate to holding "a major" in that content area.
What is considered to be advanced certification for purposes of demonstrating subject matter competency at the middle and secondary school levels?
Advanced certification is currently National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification. National certification that teachers may have received in the 1960s and 1970s is not considered advanced certification for purposes of demonstrating subject matter competency.
Does a Master's degree in Education count toward demonstrating subject matter competency?
A general Master's degree in Education will not satisfy the subject matter competency requirement because the statute specifically states that an educator may demonstrate competence through a Master's degree in the core academic subject(s) in which the teacher teaches.
HQT and Licensure
For purposes of school/district report cards, who should be counted in the licensed teacher category?
Any teacher who is providing instruction to students, both in and out of the core academic subjects, should be included in the licensed teacher category for purposes of the school and district report cards. Refer also to question #24.
Effective July 1, 2007, what are the licensure requirements in relation to HQ? (added on 2/05/07)
Currently, for HQT, the ESE asks that teachers of the core academic subjects possess either a Preliminary, Initial, Temporary* or Professional license, but does not specify that the license needs to be in the area(s) that the teacher is teaching. In order to align the HQT and state licensure policies, effective July 1, 2007, teachers teaching the core subject areas for more than 20% of their schedule must hold the appropriate valid MA teaching license for the subject area(s) in which they are teaching, in order to satisfy the HQT licensure requirement. Individuals who have received the HQT designation prior to this change will retain their HQT status, consistent with that stated in Question #13.
In order to assist districts in determining which PreK-12 license may be the most appropriate for roles assigned to their personnel, the Department has developed a guidance document called "Matching Licenses"
*Note: a Temporary license is available only to experienced teachers from out-of-state, and is valid for one calendar year.
Do out-of-state teachers, who meet licensure requirements from out of state, meet the licensure component of the Highly Qualified definition in the new state?
Teachers teaching the core academic subject areas must meet the Highly Qualified teacher requirements in MA by; (1) possessing a Bachelor's degree; (2) possessing a valid and active Massachusetts teaching license; and (3) demonstrating subject matter competency in each of the core subject areas they are teaching.
Can a teacher satisfy the licensure component of the Highly Qualified definition with a non-teacher license, such as an administrator license or a guidance counselor license?
No. In order to satisfy the licensure component of the Highly Qualified requirements, a teacher must possess a valid Massachusetts teaching license. Please also refer to Question #24.
Are teachers who possess inactive or invalid certificates considered to be licensed in Massachusetts?
No. In general, teachers who are employed with inactive or invalid certificates are not licensed (unless specifically exempted in 603 CMR 44.08 (2) or (3)) and therefore, cannot be reported as "Highly Qualified." They may only be considered licensed if they also possess another active license, or renew their inactive license. Please also refer to Question #24.
What happens if teachers are waiting to receive confirmation from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that they are licensed - can districts count them as having met the licensure component of the Highly Qualified definition?
Districts cannot count individuals as having met the licensure component of the Highly Qualified definition if they have not yet been awarded their license by the Department.
The Department provides a Superintendents' hotline for superintendents to resolve Massachusetts licensure issues. Upon a superintendent's request, specific licensure issues will be assigned to an individual in the licensure office for expedited resolution. This will reduce the impact of licensure issues on meeting HQT goals. This line is solely for Superintendents who have questions related to the licensing of their staff.
What level of Massachusetts' licensure does a teacher need to possess in order to satisfy the licensure component of the Highly Qualified teacher definition? (revised on 2/05/07)
Teachers of the core academic subjects must possess either a Preliminary, Initial, Professional or Temporary* license.
*Note: a Temporary license is available only to experienced teachers from out-of-state, and is valid for one calendar year.
What are the implications for districts with teachers on waivers with regard to HQ reporting? (revised on 2/05/07)
Teachers on waivers cannot be considered HQ.
What is HOUSSE?
HOUSSE stands for High Objective Uniform State Standard of Evaluation. NCLB requires teachers to be Highly Qualified by, possessing a teaching license and demonstrating subject matter competency in each of the core academic subjects that a teacher teaches. The legislation defines several options for teachers to demonstrate subject matter competency (teacher tests, academic majors, advanced degrees, etc.). One of these options allows states to define a High Objective Uniform State Standard of Evaluation (HOUSSE) as an additional option. In Massachusetts, the HOUSSE option allows educators to demonstrate subject matter competency through an approved* Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP). Please refer to Question #12 for an update on the availability of the HOUSSE option.
*Note: HOUSSE plans must be initially approved by the principal/designee.
What is meant by IPDP?
IPDP stands for Individual Professional Development Plan.
What are the HOUSSE requirements? (revised on 2/7/11)
Currently, special education and veteran ESL teachers (those who have at least one year of experience teaching ESL) who were HQ in math, science, English or reading/language arts at the time of hire may use an Individual Professional Development Plan that meets the requirements of HOUSSE to demonstrate subject matter competency in the core subject areas they are teaching. As "generalist" teachers, those who teach more than one core academic subject, these Special Education and ESL teachers would be required to demonstrate subject matter competency in each of the core academic areas they teach. At least 96 PDPs in their plan should be distributed across each of these core areas, with a minimum of 10 PDPs in each core subject they teach. If there is a reason for the plan to focus more PDPs on one core academic subject than the other (such as alignment of PDPs to school/district goals, or specific professional development needs of teachers), then the PDPs may be flexibly distributed as long as the distribution ensures that the teacher has at least 10 PDPs in each of the core academic subjects that he/she teaches and maintains 96 PDPs across the core subjects included in the plan.
Although the total PDP requirements for HOUSSE are 96, an educator will need to accrue a total of 150 PDPs in his/her relicensure plan for the next round of relicensure. How can an educator use their next relicensure IPDP to meet the HOUSSE requirements when the total number of PDPs for the two plans are different? (Revised on 2/7/11)
For the Special Education and veteran ESL teachers, the current relicensure IPDPs may not meet the HOUSSE requirements. These teachers may have a current relicensure IPDP that focuses on the content of their license, and not on all of the core academic subjects that they teach, as required in a HOUSSE plan. Therefore, their current relicensure IPDP would not automatically enable them to be considered Highly Qualified.
Administrators must review IPDPs to ensure that they meet the HOUSSE requirements before they deem someone to be Highly Qualified, and must sign off on the plan, verifying that it has been approved. Once a Special Educator or veteran ESL teacher has completed a HOUSSE plan, a copy of the plan should be kept on file with the district.
Can a teacher who does not yet have a Professional license (Standard licensure) demonstrate subject matter competency through HOUSSE? (revised on 1/11/10)
Yes. While this plan will not count toward relicensure, and the PDPs accrued cannot be applied to future relicensure, an individual who teaches ESL or SPED can use the individual professional development plan as a means for demonstrating subject matter competency.
What are the responsibilities of the principal in relation to the individual professional development plan for purposes of relicensure and the Highly Qualified requirements?
The principal (or designee/supervisor) is responsible for approving the plan and ensuring that the IPDP goals are aligned with school and district goals.
In relation to the HOUSSE IPDP, Title IIA of NLCB requires principals of schools that receive Title I funding to attest that they are in compliance with the Highly Qualified teacher requirements. It is the expectation of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that all school principals, regardless of whether or not they receive Title I funding, must attest to their school's compliance. In order to make this attestation, school principals should review the qualifications of their core academic teachers and assess whether or not they have met the Highly Qualified teacher requirements.
If a teacher is using a HOUSSE individual professional development plan to demonstrate subject matter competency, it is the responsibility of the principal (or designee) to ensure that the HOUSSE plan contains a total of 96 PDPs that focus on the core academic subject or subjects that the teacher teaches. For generalist teachers, the principal (or designee) should ensure that these teachers' plans (or supplemental logs) have the proper distribution of PDPs, as discussed in Question #33.
Can teachers apply previous professional development points toward their current or new professional development plan? (updated 5/19/10)
Although teachers are able to go as far back as needed for other options (graduate degree, coursework equivalent to a major, etc.), this flexibility is not offered through HOUSSE. The Massachusetts HOUSSE policy meets the federal criteria because it includes provisions regarding end-of-course assessments and products, which allow educators the opportunity to demonstrate subject matter competency. The HOUSSE log for highly qualified may include PDPs gained from the last renewal (relicensure) cycle. Note: for information regarding who can currently use HOUSSE, refer to question #12.
What happens if individuals have dual licensure in reading and elementary education, teach reading for 100% of their time, yet have chosen to focus their individual professional development plan, for purposes of relicensure, on their elementary license? What should their plan look like for purposes of demonstrating subject matter competency in reading?
For purposes of HOUSSE, the teachers' plans should reflect 96 PDPs on reading - the primary content area in the elementary curriculum they teach. In order for the plan to fulfill relicensure requirements for both licenses, the plan should contain 150 PDPs for the primary license (elementary) and 30 PDPs in the additional license (reading).
If a teacher switches his or her content mid-way through the year, how would this impact his/her individual professional development plan for purposes of HOUSSE?
If a teacher changes his or her content area, the individual professional development plan needs to be amended to reflect the change. This would include ensuring that the educator plans to complete 96 PDPs in the new content area. This teacher may be able to apply professional development activities from the previous plan, if these activities address the new content area.
After the elimination of the HOUSSE option in July 2007, what options do teachers licensed in or prior to 1999 have in demonstrating subject matter competency? (revised on 2/7/11)
Regardless of licensure date, the HOUSSE has been completely phased out for all teachers except SPED and veteran ESL teachers. Refer to Question #12 for the remaining options to elementary and middle/secondary schoolteachers in demonstrating subject matter competency.
How does a Special Education teacher at the middle or secondary level who teaches a separate classroom across all core academic subjects of the curriculum demonstrate subject matter competency through an individual professional development plan?
Refer to Question #33.
How can veteran ESL teachers demonstrate subject matter competency in the core academic subjects that they teach through an individual professional development plan?
Refer to Question #33.
What are the federal HQ and state licensure requirements for a Special Education teacher?
Special Education teachers in public schools and public charter schools who
- are teaching core academic subjects and
- are the lead teachers of those subjects for students with disabilities must meet the same HQ standards as all teachers under NCLB by possessing a Massachusetts teaching license in Special Education and demonstrating subject matter competency in each of the core academic subjects in which he/she teaches.
Special Education teachers who do not directly instruct students in a core academic subject, or who provide only consultation to Highly Qualified teachers of core academic subjects in adapting curricula, using behavioral supports and interventions, or selecting appropriate accommodations, do not need to demonstrate subject-matter competency in those subjects. These special educators could also assist students with study skills or organizational skills and reinforce instruction that the student has already received from a teacher who meets the Highly Qualified requirements in that core academic subject matter. The NCLB Highly Qualified requirements do not apply to teachers in these "consultative roles".
More information relating to Special Education policy.
How can Special Education teachers in charter schools meet the Highly Qualified requirements? (added on 3/15/07)
To the extent that a Special Education teacher in a charter school provides direct instruction in the core academic subjects for any student, an elementary Special Education teacher will be expected to meet the subject matter competency requirements for elementary teachers and middle/secondary teachers will be expected to meet the subject matter competency requirements for middle/secondary schoolteachers. Refer to Question #13 for the options available to elementary and middle/secondary schoolteachers in demonstrating subject matter competency.
For teachers in Commonwealth charter schools, the licensure component of the Highly Qualified definition is waived, because it is not a requirement of the state charter school statute and regulations (M.G.L. c.71, 89 (qq) and 603 CMR 1.07). However, under the Commonwealth charter school regulations, if hired after August 2000, teachers have the full first year of employment to take and pass the appropriate Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL); (1) a test of Communication and Literacy and (2) the relevant PreK-12 subject matter knowledge test(s).
Teachers in Horace Mann charter schools are required by M.G.L. c.71, 38G to hold an appropriate Massachusetts teaching license because employees of a Horace Mann charter school are, for collective bargaining purposes, employees of a school district.
Which Special Education teachers are currently eligible to use HOUSSE? (added on 5/19/10)
Special Education teachers can use the HOUSSE option so long as they are highly qualified in language arts, mathematics, or science at the time of hire.
Do teachers who primarily teach English language learners need to meet the Highly Qualified requirements?
NCLB Highly Qualified requirements may be applied differently to veteran ESL teachers who teach within different educational settings. An ESL teacher who teaches in a self-contained classroom or provides instruction to students outside of the regular classroom, will be expected to meet the Highly Qualified requirements for the core academic subjects that they teach in these settings, if and when the ESL teacher is the lead instructor in that content area.
Conversely, if an ESL teacher is providing instructional assistance to a student who is receiving primary content instruction from another teacher, then the ESL teacher is not required to meet NCLB Highly Qualified requirements, similar to the SPED teacher working in a "consultative role", as described in Question #43.
Which veteran ESL teachers are currently eligible to use HOUSSE? (added on 5/19/10)
veteran ESL teachers can use the HOUSSE option so long as they have been teaching for a minimum of one year.