An Early Christmas Gift For The States: USDE Back Off -- Further -- on HQT

It's simultaneously unbelievable -- and not that surprising. After all, the districts got their reprieves (on tutoring, among other things) earlier this fall, and now it's the states' turn for a warm fuzzy from Secretary Spellings.

According to Education Week's online edition, the USDE on Friday told the states that the June 2006 deadline for meeting the highly qualified teacher requirement of NCLB -- one of the most important but least effectively implemented provisions of the law -- was going to be extended for another year. Ed. Dept. Gives States Reprieve on ‘Highly Qualified’ Teacher Requirement.

Curiously, the article (by Bess Keller) calls the HQT provision "
one of the most controversial sections" of the law. Is that true -- compared to the tutoring provision, the costs of the annual testing requirements, and the AYP calculations? Maybe it depends on who you talk to, or maybe Bess's editors wanted her to pump up the importance of the story.

What I've heard and read most about the HQT provision is how easy it is to meet in many states. No one's fazed by the letters anymore. I havent' checked the latest figures, but it seems like most states are at no less than 80 percent HQ.

What's most interesting about the letter itself (kindly linked by EdWeek at no extra cost) is that it includes as a condition of getting the one-year extension that
"steps are being taken to ensure that "experienced and qualified" educators are as likely to teach poor and minority children as their white and more affluent peers."

Now, taking "steps" can mean pretty much anything, or nothing (and many will see this as a sop to folks like George Miller and the Education Trust), but the fact that this part of the law aimed at the uneven distribution of appropriately assigned and trained teachers gets mentioned anymore seems a bit of a miracle. A sad one. Letter to the states.

NB: The CCSSO logo (ab0ve) is being used for illustrative purposes only -- a shorthand reference to the state education agencies that the Chiefs represent in DC. For all I know, the Chiefs organization had nothing to do with the HQT changes, or opposed them.


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