P.O. BOX 2120




May 7, 2004




Division Superintendents



Jo Lynne DeMary

Superintendent of Public Instruction



Board of Education Approval of Virginias Definition of the Alternate Route for Highly Qualified Teachers


On April 28, 2004, the Board of Education approved Virginias definition of the alternate route for highly qualified teachers. The requirement that teachers must be highly qualified applies to all public school teachers employed by a local educational agency who teach a federal core academic subject. The term core academic subjects as defined in No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, means English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography.


Highly qualified, as defined by the NCLB legislation means that the teacher:


1. Has obtained full state certification (licensure) as a teacher (including certification obtained through alternative routes to certification) or passed the state teacher licensing examination and holds a license to teach in the state, and does not have certification or licensure requirements waived on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basis;

2.              Holds a minimum of a bachelors degree; and

3.              Has demonstrated subject matter competency in each of the academic subjects that the teacher teaches, in a manner determined by the state and in compliance with Section 9101(23) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

The legislation does recognize state licensure obtained through alternate routes; therefore, the Board of Education approved the following definition of the alternate route for highly qualified teachers on April 28:


A teacher obtaining licensure through an alternate route may meet the definition of highly qualified if the individual:


  1. has a bachelors degree;
  2. has met requirements for a Virginia license (including a provisional license);
  3. receives high-quality professional development that is sustained, intensive, and classroom-focused in order to have a positive and lasting impact on classroom instruction before and while teaching;
  4. participates in a teacher mentoring program, including intensive supervision that consists of structured guidance and regular ongoing support;
  5. assumes functions as a teacher only for a period of time not to exceed three years;
  6. demonstrates satisfactory progress toward full licensure as prescribed by the Board of Education; and
  7. demonstrates subject matter competency in each of the academic subjects that the teacher teaches, in a manner determined by the state and in compliance with Section 9101(23) of ESEA.


The approved definition of alternate route for highly qualified individuals will require a revision to the calculations of classes taught by highly qualified teachers based on data submitted on the Instructional Personnel Report for the 2003-04 school year. Middle and secondary teachers who have not met the Praxis I and II requirements may be considered highly qualified if all other criteria in the boards definition have been met. However, elementary teachers who hold provisional licenses will not be considered highly qualified until they have met the

Praxis II requirement because the federal law requires an academic subject test for elementary teachers new to the profession. The Elementary Education Content Test (0014) is the approved Praxis II test for elementary teachers. Elementary teachers who have taken and passed this test may be designated as highly qualified under the new alternate route definition.


The due date for the instructional report for 2004-05 will be changed to January 15, 2005, to allow elementary teachers newly hired under provisional licenses an opportunity to meet the Praxis II requirement in the fall of 2004. The Department of Education will survey school divisions to determine if a special administration of the Elementary Education Content Test (0014) in the fall of 2004 will assist their teachers in achieving the highly qualified designation.


Experienced teachers can demonstrate their competency and skills by (a) passing a rigorous state academic subject matter test, (b) in the case of middle or secondary school teachers, completing an academic major, graduate degree, coursework equivalent to an academic major, or advanced certification or credentialing, or (c) using the High Objective Uniform State Standard of Evaluation (HOUSSE). To obtain information about requirements for experienced teachers to meet the highly qualified definition, please refer to Informational Supts. Memo No. 49, dated March 5, 2004, entitled Virginias High Objective Uniform State Standard of Evaluation for Experienced Teachers.


If you have questions regarding Virginias approved definition of the alternate route for highly qualified teachers, please contact Dr. Thomas A. Elliott, assistant superintendent for teacher education and licensure, ( at 804-371-2522 or Mrs. Patty S. Pitts, director of licensure, ( at (804) 371-2471.