Federal "Highly Qualified" Teacher June 30th Deadline
|To:||Superintendents, Charter School Leaders and Principals|
|From:||David P. Driscoll, Commissioner of Education|
|Date:||June 8, 2006|
The federal "No Child Left Behind" Act requires all teachers of the core academic subjects to be designated as "highly qualified" in each of the core academic subjects that they teach by June 30, 2006. Teachers are deemed "highly qualified" if they: 1) possess a bachelor's degree; 2) possess a Massachusetts teaching license at any level; and 3) have demonstrated subject matter competency in each of the core subjects they teach using specific options outlined in the federal legislation. Instructional paraprofessionals in Title I targeted assistance and school-wide programs also need to meet a specific set of minimum qualification requirements by June 30, 2006. The requirements for instructional paraprofessionals include possession of a high school diploma or equivalent and one of the following: an Associate's degree (or higher); 48 credit hours at an institution of higher education; successful completion of a local assessment (as defined by MA DOE); or successful completion of a state assessment (ParaPro or WorkKeys tests).
In my March 6, 2006 memo, I informed districts that teachers who are not "highly qualified" by the June 30, 2006 deadline must continue to work toward achieving "highly qualified" status. Currently federal law and policy guidance are silent regarding the consequences for districts, teachers and paraprofessionals who do not meet the federal requirements by the June 30, 2006 deadline. At this juncture, the decision whether to continue the employment of these educators is local and is not driven by federal or state policy related to highly qualified status or completion of the paraprofessional requirements. Districts should continue to provide support to individuals who still need to meet the requirements and should ensure that the schools within the district and the district as a whole continue to work toward the goal of 100% highly qualified in the 2006/2007 school year.
Update Regarding the Federal June 30, 2006 Deadline
The United States Department of Education recently stated that it is evaluating each state to determine if a "good-faith effort" is being made toward achieving the 100% "highly qualified" goal by the June deadline. If states have been making this effort, then: 1) federal funding will not be impacted; and 2) states will be required to submit a revised state plan outlining how they will ensure that those individuals not highly qualified by June 30, 2006 will be highly qualified by June 30, 2007. While this is not an extension of the deadline, it is an opportunity for those making a "good-faith effort" to outline the specific steps that will be taken to ensure that all teachers are highly qualified by June 30, 2007. Massachusetts and eleven other states were only recently reviewed by U.S.ED. Hence, these states have not yet heard from U.S.ED about their standings in relation to the "good-faith effort" review and opportunity to submit a revised plan. It is my belief that Massachusetts will most likely be found to be making a "good-faith effort" and will be given the opportunity to submit a revised plan. If we are given this opportunity, our plan will outline specific strategies and initiatives that the Department as well as districts and schools will undertake to ensure that those remaining teachers and paraprofessionals who did not meet the requirements by June 30, 2006 are able to meet the requirements by June 30, 2007.
The Department is fully aware that the 100% "highly qualified" goal may be a moving target due to the many personnel changes that take place in a district and school such as retirements, leaves, change of assignments, etc. However, we need to make our best effort as a state to ensure that we are making sound educational decisions for our students and upholding the goals and requirements of Education Reform and the federal law.
Policy guidance related to the federal "highly qualified" teacher requirements as well as those related to instructional paraprofessionals in Title I programs can be found at: http://www.doe.mass.edu/educators/title-iia/hq/. If you have questions, please contact Simone Lynch at 781-338-6680 or email@example.com.