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No Educator Left Behind:
Graduate Degrees

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.


Does the highly qualified teacher definition require all teachers to have a graduate degree?


No. Contrary to what is claimed by some No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act opponents, NCLB does not require current teachers to return to school or get a degree in every subject they teach to demonstrate that the y are highly qualified. Under NCLB, a "highly qualified" teacher is a teacher who: (1) has obtained full state certification; (2) holds a minimum of a bachelor's degree; and (3) has demonstrated subject matter competency in each of the academic subjects in which he or she teaches.

If, however, middle or secondary school teachers have completed a graduate degree in the subject they teach, then they already meet the subject matter knowledge portion of the "highly qualified" teacher definition.

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