COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

P.O. BOX 2120

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120

SUPTS. MEMO NO. 53

March 4, 2005

INFORMATIONAL

TO:

Division Superintendents

 

FROM:

Jo Lynne DeMary

Superintendent of Public Instruction

 

SUBJECT:

Highly Qualified Special Education Teachers

 

On November 19, 2004, Congress passed P.L. 108-446, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) of 2004. One significant element of the new statute is the term highly qualified as applied to special education teachers. The new law includes the following provisions.

 

1.  Special education teachers whose sole responsibility is to provide consultative services[1] to a core content teacher who is highly qualified under NCLB:

       must be fully licensed as a special education teacher (including alternate routes) [2]

       is, if meeting the above requirement, considered highly qualified

 

2.  Special education teachers who teach core academic subjects exclusively to children who are assessed through the Virginia Alternate Assessment Program (VAAP), whether new or not new to the profession:

       must be fully licensed as a special education teacher (including alternate routes)

       if teaching at the elementary level, must meet the requirements of NCLB section 9101 (B)[holds at least a bachelors degree and has passed a rigorous state test of elementary subject knowledge and teaching skills] or (C) [High Objective Uniform State Standard of Evaluation (HOUSSE)]

       if providing instruction above the elementary level, must have subject matter knowledge appropriate to the level of instruction being provided as determined by the state

 

3.  Special education teachers who teach two or more core academic subjects exclusively to children with disabilities:[3]

       must be fully licensed as a special education teacher (including alternate routes)

       if not new to the profession, must demonstrate competence in all core academic subjects taught in the same manner as required for an elementary, middle, or secondary teacher who is not new to the profession, which may include HOUSSE

       if new to the profession, and if highly qualified under NCLB in math, language arts, or science, must demonstrate competence in all core academic subjects taught in the same manner as required for an elementary, middle, or secondary teacher who is not new to the profession under NCLB, which may include HOUSSE, no later than two years after the date of employment

 

Other special education teachers who teach only one core subject would appear to have to meet the relevant criteria for demonstrating subject matter competency under the NCLB definition (in addition to the overarching special education certification and degree criteria) and would then also be considered highly qualified under IDEA.

 

We are preparing recommendations for aligning the highly qualified policies to special education teachers. We expect to have these items ready for the Board of Education consideration at its regular meeting on March 23, 2005.

 

Attached for your information is a chart prepared by the Congressional Research Service that summarizes the requirements to be a highly qualified special education teacher.

 

Personnel in the Department of Education are working on a question and answer document pertaining to this subject and its relationship to the Board of Educations regulations for school personnel. This question and answer document will address questions received at the department and others that you may wish to submit relative to the provisions of this new law. You will be advised when the document is posted on the departments website.

 

Questions about highly qualified special education teachers in Virginia should be directed at this time to Dr. Thomas A. Elliott, assistant superintendent for teacher education and licensure, at (804) 371-2522 or Thomas.Elliott@doe.virginia.gov. Inquiries about the provisions of IDEIA should be directed at this time to Mr. H. Douglas Cox, assistant superintendent for special education and student services at (804) 225-3252 or Doug.Cox@doe.virginia.gov.

 

 

JLD/hdc

 

Attachments

 

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/administrators/superintendents_memos/2005/inf053a.pdf

 

 

 



[1] The P.L. 108-446 Conference Report states that consultative services do not include instruction in core academic subjects, but may include adjustments to the learning environment, modifications of instructional methods, adaptation of curricula, the use of positive behavioral supports and interventions, or the use of appropriate accommodations to meet the needs of individual children.

[2] The statute recognizes alternative routes to certification for special education teachers. Therefore, the special education conditional license would not be affected.

 

 

[3] The statute presumes that a new special education teacher who teaches only one core subject must be highly qualified in that subject.