Are Teachers Highly Qualified?

One of the repercussions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law is that states must develop plans to ensure a “highly qualified teacher” for each classroom.

The U.S. Department of Education reviewed state plans to ensure that every public school student have a “highly qualified teacher.”

USA Today sets the stage:

Under the No Child Left Behind law, states were supposed to have highly qualified teachers in every core academic class by the end of the last school year. None made it.
So the department said “try again.”

Under No Child Left Behind,

The law defines “highly qualified” teachers as those who have a bachelor’s degree, a state license and proven competency in every subject they teach. It is often regarded as a minimum qualification, because it requires teachers to know what they teach.

Four states, including Missouri, were told to try again … again. Kansas passed with flying colors, earning the highest grade, along with 8 other states.

The web site of ABC News provides a link to a large number of state plans, including that of Kansas.

For all the anguish given over to the state of science education, the percentage of science teachers deemed “not highly qualified” (13.1) matched that of math teachers. But it was less than percentage of “not highly qualified” teachers in foreign language (14.3), language arts (14.7), economics (17.1), and history (23.8).

On the other hand, the percentage of teachers “not fully qualified” was lower for elementary students (2.9), government (4.2) fine arts (9.9), and geography (10.6).

So what does all this mean? That Kansas got its ducks in a row. Good for it. On the other hand, is a subject matter degree actually essential, not for the law, but for good teaching? Bill Gates is a college dropout (albeit from Harvard); we suspect that he would have a thing or two to teach about math, information technology, or management.

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