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No Educator Left Behind: Highly-qualified Teachers

No Educator Left Behind is a series providing answers from the U.S. Department of Education to questions about the federal No Child Left Behind Act and how it will affect educators. If you have a question about No Child Left Behind, send an e-mail to Ellen Delisio, and we will submit your question to the Department of Education.


The No Child Left Behind Act calls for "highly qualified teachers" in all classrooms by 2005-2006 with full state certification. How can districts accomplish this when, particularly in urban and rural areas, they cannot even find enough people with emergency or provisional certification to fill vacancies?

U.S. Department of Education:

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act provides significant support, nearly $3 billion this year alone, for states to beef up teacher recruitment, training, and quality efforts. The law phases in the provisions over four years. There is no more important influence on a child's education and achievement than a fully qualified, subject-matter knowledgeable teacher. This is one area in which there can be no compromise.

Title II of NCLB requires that all public elementary and secondary school teachers who teach a core academic subject must be licensed by the state, hold at least a bachelor's degree, and demonstrate competence in their subject area by the end of the 2005-2006 school year. States determine how such teachers demonstrate competence.

In order to address the educational challenges at our poorest schools, all teachers of core academic subjects hired after the first day of the 2002-2003 school year and teaching in a program supported with federal Title I Part A funds must meet the requirements of a highly qualified teacher.

It is evident that states and districts are approaching this requirement in creative and innovative ways. For example, in New York City -- which employs 80,000 teachers -- up to 40 percent of recently employed teachers were not certified. However, a policy change to aggressively recruit teachers through a number of alternative-route-to-teaching programs, which break down red tape and unnecessary barriers for those who want to become teachers, has helped the city to increase its supply of highly qualified teachers.

Mid-career professionals can become teachers in New York City through a variety of routes. Teach for America operates in the city, as does a new program called the New York City Teaching Fellows Program. And numerous teachers have been recruited from abroad. As a result of these efforts, New York City has attracted many new teacher applicants for this past fall.

Read previous questions and answers in our No Educator Left Behind archive.