Diluting the meaning of “highly qualified” teachers
December 21, 2010 Leave a comment
Senators have included in key legislation language that would allow teachers still in training to be considered “highly qualified” so they can meet a standard set in the federal No Child Left Behind law.
In an era when the education mantra is that all kids deserve great teachers, some members of Congress want it to be the law of the land that a neophyte teacher who has demonstrated “satisfactory progress” toward full state certification is “highly qualified.”
Is it just me, or have I been transported to 1984? The original definition of “highly qualified teacher” in No Child Left Behind already represented what in most high-achieving countries would be a bare minimum qualification for beginning a teaching residency. Allowing teachers-in-training to be classified as “highly qualified” seems ridiculous on its face.
Strauss sees this as a giveaway to political darling Teach for America:
Teachers still in training programs are disproportionately concentrated in schools serving low-income students and students of color, the very children who need the very best the teaching profession has to offer. In California alone, nearly a quarter of such teachers work in schools with 98-100 percent of minority students, while some affluent districts have none. Half of California’s teachers still in training teach special education.
Allowing non-certified teachers to be considered “highly qualified” would be a gift to programs such as Teach for America, which gives newly graduated college students from elite institutions five weeks of summer training before sending them into low-performing schools.