Highly Qualified Teachers & Paraprofessionals
Highly Qualified Teachers
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as No Child Left Behind) requires all teachers of core academic subjects to be “highly qualified.” The federal law defines a highly qualified teacher as a teacher who is fully licensed by the state, has at least a bachelor’s degree and has demonstrated competency in each subject taught.
Virginia’s licensure regulations – with their emphasis on content knowledge – require new teachers to far exceed the federal highly qualified standard.
Under limited circumstances, some special education teachers and teachers not new to the profession may demonstrate that they are highly qualified through Virginia’s High Objective Uniform State Standard of Evaluation (HOUSSE).
- HOUSSE – Virginia Requirements for Teachers Not New to the Teaching Profession to Meet the Definition of Highly Qualified in Federal Core Academic Areas and Special Education (PDF)
This option is available to the following teachers under the circumstances described:
- New special education teachers who teach multiple core subjects, and who are highly qualified in either mathematics, language arts, or science at the time they are hired, have two years to use HOUSSE (or to demonstrate content area competency through appropriate rigorous testing or coursework).
- Teachers who teach multiple secondary subjects in school districts eligible to participate in the Small, Rural School Achievement program and are highly qualified in at least one core academic subject at the time of hire have three years to demonstrate competence in other subject areas.
- Teachers who come to the United States from other countries to teach on a temporary basis have three years to use HOUSSE.
- Fully licensed teachers not new to the profession who are returning to teaching after an extended absence have up to two years to become highly qualified using HOUSSE.
- Multi-subject teachers not new to the profession who are already highly qualified in one subject area, but who have been reassigned to a different subject area have up to two years to become highly qualified using HOUSSE.
- Special education teachers new or not new to the profession teaching one or more academic subjects only to children with disabilities held to alternative achievement standards may have up to two years to become highly qualified using HOUSSE.
- Consulting special education teachers not new to the profession who have been reassigned to teach core academic subjects may have up to two years to become highly qualified using HOUSSE.
Note: Virginia recognizes the highly qualified designation of teachers from another state or the District of Columbia.
Highly Qualified Paraprofessionals
Paraprofessionals providing instructional support in programs supported with Title I, Part A funds also must meet federal highly qualified standards.
All Title I paraprofessionals must have a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent. Additionally, paraprofessionals have the following three options to meet the designation of highly qualified:
- Complete two years of study at an institution of higher education; or
- Obtain an associate’s (or higher) degree; or
- Meet a rigorous standard of quality and be able to demonstrate, through a formal state or local academic assessment, knowledge of and the ability to assist in instructing, reading, writing, and mathematics (or, as appropriate, reading readiness, writing, readiness, and mathematics readiness).
Paraprofessionals are not required to take a specified course of study for the first two options.
The Board of Education has approved the Parapro assessment as the formal state academic paraprofessional assessment. The established qualifying score for the test approved by the board is 455. School boards also have the option of approving a local assessment.
The Parapro assessment is reciprocal among school divisions; however an individual meeting the highly qualified definition by taking a local assessment is considered highly qualified only in that school division.
Licenses or certificates are not issued by the Board of Education or VDOE for paraprofessionals meeting the requirement of highly qualified. School divisions may issue a certificate documenting that the paraprofessional has successfully completed one of the three options required for the highly qualified designation.
Title II, Part A Funds
School divisions may use Title II, Part A funds for coursework and assessment fees for teachers and paraprofessionals seeking highly qualified status. These funds also may be used for professional development for teachers in core academic areas, principals and paraprofessionals.
Highly Qualified Teachers & Paraprofessional Resources
- High-Quality Professional Development Criteria (PDF)
- Allowable Title II, Part A, Activities at a Glance (PDF)
- Revisions in Criteria to Designate Teachers Highly Qualified – Superintendent's Memo No. 43, February, 2007
- Highly Qualified Paraprofessionals – Superintendent’s Memo No. 157, July 2004