Highly Qualified Teachers

No Child Left Behind required that all teachers be “highly qualified.” To be considered highly qualified, teachers were required to be fully certified by the state, or to have passed the state teacher licensure exam and have a license to teach in the state. In addition, highly qualified teachers needed to demonstrate their knowledge of the subject they taught through specific credentials or test scores. Further, the law required states to ensure low-income and minority students were not taught by teachers who were not highly qualified at a higher rate than affluent and non-minority students.

NCLB also gave parents the right to know about the qualifications of their child’s teacher. Specifically, parents had the right to know if their child’s teacher met state licensure and other qualifications, if the teacher was teaching under an emergency license or other waiver, the teacher’s undergraduate major, and any graduate degrees he or she held. Parents also had the right to know if their child was receiving educational services from paraprofessionals (i.e. teacher aides), and the qualifications those paraprofessionals. School districts were obligated to inform parents in writing if a teacher who was not highly qualified taught their child for more than four weeks.

Under ESEA Flexibility, the requirement that all teachers be “highly qualified” and that states inform parents of teacher qualifications was waived for many states. The “highly qualified” teacher requirement was not included in the 2015 reauthorization of ESEA, the Every Student Succeeds Act, and was phased out for the 2016-17 school year during the transition to ESSA.