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NEWS RELEASES 2003-04 :: NOVEMBER 25, 2003


The N.C. Department of Public Instruction this week released information to the U.S. Department of Education showing that 83 percent of North Carolina public school classes are taught by "Highly Qualified" teachers, the standard for all public school teachers under the No Child Left Behind federal education law.

In addition, the data show that 78 percent of all classes in high poverty schools are taught by "Highly Qualified" teachers.

Both of these baseline numbers are slightly higher than state education leaders had expected. "We are pleased to see numbers that are this positive," said State Superintendent Mike Ward. "The NCLB standards are very rigorous especially for teachers in middle and high schools. We are working with local school districts and the university system to help local teachers meet these new standards. At the same time, I recognize that ‘Highly Qualified' is not the same as highly effective. We have many effective teachers who still need to meet the ‘Highly Qualified' standard."

Preliminary information from all states showed that at least 33 states reported a rate of 80 percent or more classes taught by "Highly Qualified" teachers. Some states lack a mechanism for accurately reporting this information and relied on estimates in this initial year. National comparisons are imperfect because states set their own standards for licensing and subject mastery by veteran teachers.

Under No Child Left Behind, all public school teachers of core academic subjects must meet the "Highly Qualified" standards by June 30, 2006. Teachers hired after the beginning of the 2002-03 school year in programs supported with federal Title I funds have to meet these standards now. An exception to this timeline is available for local school districts that requested an extension under

North Carolina's federal ed flex status. In those cases, newly hired teachers in Title I programs would have to comply with these standards by the beginning of the 2004-05 school year.

North Carolina's goal is to have 90 percent of classes taught by "Highly Qualified" teachers by the end of the 2003-04 school year, 95 percent by 2004-05 and 100 percent by 2005-06.

The target goals for the percentage of classes taught by "Highly Qualified" teachers in high poverty schools are similar: 88 percent for 2003-04, 95 percent for 2004-05, and 100 percent for 2005-06.

"Highly Qualified" teachers by federal definition are: fully certified and/or licensed by the state; hold at least a bachelor's degree from a four-year institution; and demonstrate competence in each core academic subject area in which they teach. The law applies to teachers in core subject areas which include: English, reading, language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, social studies, economics arts, history, geography, and kindergarten through Grade 6.

To demonstrate competence in a core academic subject area and be considered "Highly Qualified," a new elementary teacher must pass the required PRAXIS II test. A new middle or secondary school teacher must:

  • pass the required PRAXIS II test; or
  • hold an undergraduate degree in the core subject area; or
  • have coursework equivalent to an undergraduate major (24 semester hours in the core subject area: or
  • hold a graduate degree in the core subject area; or
  • have master's level licensure or above in the core subject area; or
  • hold National Board of Professional Teaching Standards certification in the core subject area.

Teachers who teach in different subjects, a scenario that is common at the middle school level, must meet these criteria in each core academic subject they teach.

Experienced teachers can use the North Carolina High Objective Uniform State Standard for Evaluation (HOUSSE) to establish that they are "Highly Qualified." In order to use this alternative means, a teacher must have taught full-time with a reciprocal state license for at least six successive calendar months in one local school system, charter school or private school.

In addition to the new requirements for teachers, No Child Left Behind also sets federal standards for paraprofessionals (teacher assistants). Each state is to have 100 percent of Title I teacher assistants meet new standards for paraprofessionals by 2005-06. Data released this week showed that 35 percent of North Carolina Title I paraprofessionals now meet this standard. To be qualified, paraprofessionals must have either completed two years of study (48 semester hours) at an institute of higher education, have an associate's degree, or meet a rigorous standard of quality and be able to demonstrate through a formal state or local assessment that they have the knowledge and ability to assist in reading, writing and mathematics instruction. North Carolina's target goal is for 55 percent of paraprofessionals to meet their standard by the end of 2003-04, 75 percent in 2004-05 and 100 percent in 2005-06.

NCLB also emphasizes professional development for teachers and other educators, specifying professional development that is grounded in scientifically based research and focused on improving student academic achievement. One-day or short-term meetings and conferences are not acceptable under these requirements. Professional development activities that are high quality, sustained, intensive and classroom-focused is the new standard. North Carolina reported 69 percent of teachers receiving professional development that meets the High Quality designation. Target goals are for 80 percent to reach this by the end of 2003-04, 90 percent by the end of 2004-05 and 100 percent by the end of 2005-06.

For more information about the "Highly Qualified" data, please contact DPI's Communications Office at 919.807.3450.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.