Federal “Highly Qualified” Definition Gets Reprieve

The same bill making the short-term extension of federal education aid also gave a new lease on life to a contested federal definition of what constitutes a “highly qualified” teacher. The federal No Child Left Behind Act applies the “highly qualified” requirement to school districts that get federal aid.

The Bush administration years ago issued a regulation giving districts leeway to hire trainees en route to alternative certification and consider them “highly qualified.” However, a recent ruling by a federal appeals court in California said that regulatory easing of the “highly qualified” standard was not supported by the language of the NCLB statue. Now Congress has stepped back in to say, in effect, that the Bush administration’s rule was what Congress intended all along.