P.O. BOX 2120



January 12, 2006



Division Superintendents



Patricia I. Wright

Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction



Implementation of the No Child Left Behind Highly Qualified Teacher Requirement


The U.S. Department of Education has announced that it will hold all states accountable for implementing the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) law and making a good faith effort to reach NCLBs goal of 100 percent highly qualified teachers in core academic subjects by the end of the 2005-06 school year. States will not lose federal funds if they are making such efforts.


If states meet the laws requirements and the U.S. Department of Educations expectations in these areas but fall short of having highly qualified teachers in every classroom, states will have the opportunity to negotiate and implement a revised plan for meeting the highly qualified teacher goal established in statute and regulation by the end of the 2006-07 school year. An extension of time is not to be requested by states but rather negotiated if the state is not in compliance with these federal requirements. The U.S. Department of Education has indicated that it will measure state efforts based on the following four elements of implementation of the highly qualified teacher requirements:


1.      As a first requirement in each states implementation of these provisions, the state must have a definition of a highly qualified teacher that is consistent with the law, and it must use this definition to determine the status of all of its teachers. For new elementary teachers, states must have a test in place to assess subject-area knowledge in the key subjects in the standard elementary school curriculum. Further, for determining whether new middle and high school teachers have adequate subject-matter knowledge, a state must either test their content knowledge or require those teachers to have a college major, a major equivalent, or an advanced degree or credential, in each subject taught.


2.      As a second requirement, states and districts must provide parents and the public with accurate, complete reports on the number and percentage of classes in core academic subjects taught by highly qualified teachers. States and districts must provide these data to parents through school, district, and state report cards. In addition, parents of students in schools receiving Title I funds must be notified that they may receive information regarding the professional qualifications of their children's teachers upon request. These parents also must be notified if their children have been assigned to or taught for four or more consecutive weeks by a teacher who is not highly qualified.


3.      Complete and accurate reporting of teacher data to the U.S. Department of Education is the third requirement. In early 2006, states must submit complete and accurate data to the Secretary on their Consolidated State Performance Report (CSPR). Accurate data will ensure that school officials know which teachers need additional support, and will enable policymakers to determine whether or not resources are being used effectively to address real problems.


4.      The fourth requirement is that states take action to ensure that inexperienced, unqualified, or out-of-field teachers do not teach poor or minority children at higher rates than other children. Given the evidence that teachers are a critical factor in improving student achievement, it is in the best interest of each state to ensure that students who need the most academic support receive instruction from the most effective teachers.

[Source: No Child Left Behind: A Road Map for State Implementation, November 10, 2005]





Virginia established the following targets for meeting the highly qualified teacher requirement at the state, school division, and school level.

Overall Percentage

Targets for State, of Highly Qualified

Year Divisions, and Schools Teachers in Virginia

2002-03 83%

2003-04 85% 94.5%

2004-05 90% 95.6%

2005-06 100%


The state met the established targets; however, there are school divisions and individual schools continuing to have challenges meeting the targets. In 2002-03, the school division with the lowest percentage of highly qualified teachers was 45.7 percent compared to the lowest percentage in 2004-05 at 60.78 percent. The highest percentage reported for all three years was 100 percent. The reports for each school and school division can be generated at the local division level. The detailed reports on highly qualified teachers were mailed to division superintendents the last two years.


In addition, the U.S. Department of Education will review states efforts to recruit, retain, and improve the quality of the teaching force. Virginia has established many initiatives to assist schools and school divisions in meeting the highly qualified teacher targets. The $13.5 million Teacher Quality Enhancement Grant that has been extended through September 2006 has provided funding to assist school divisions. Additionally, Title II, Part A, professional development funds received at the local division level should be devoted to meeting this federal requirement. Initiatives to support teacher quality include mentor teacher programs and additional funding to hard-to-staff schools, Teachers of Promise and Teachers for Tomorrow programs, expanded Career Switcher Programs, Virginia Middle School Teacher Corps, and National Board Certified Teacher incentives. Technical assistance has been provided in various meetings and workshops sponsored by the Department of Education.


Recruitment initiatives have been developed to assist in the employment of highly qualified teachers. Among the most effective areas are the statewide electronic job bank and hiring hall and TeachVirginia. Virginia also has funded a recruitment resource for more than 50 divisions throughout the state, Teach in Virginia. This programs mission is to attract high quality candidates in critical shortage areas. The work of this initiative for the 2005-06 school year will be devoted entirely to the identified hard-to-staff schools. The Great Virginia Teach-In to be held on March 18, 2006, to assist school divisions in the national recruitment of qualified teachers as well as provide professional development opportunities for prospective teachers will be conducted for the third year.


If you have questions regarding technical assistance and programs available to assist you in meeting the targets for highly qualified teachers established for Virginia, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Thomas A. Elliott, assistant superintendent for teacher education, licensure, and professional practice, at (804) 371-2522 or