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Every Student Succeeds Act

Does ESSA Require Teachers to Be Highly Qualified?

By Alyson Klein — July 16, 2018 1 min read
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Welcome back to answering your ESSA questions! This question was submitted anonymously by a teacher who participated in our Every Student Succeeds Act summit back in May.

Question: Is highly qualified teacher still required under ESSA?

The short answer: Nope, you can toss the phrase “highly qualified teacher” into the trash, as far as the law is concerned.

The longer answer: ESSA got rid of the requirement in the law it replaced, the No Child Left Behind Act, that teachers must be highly qualified, which typically meant they needed to have a bachelor’s degree in the subject they are teaching and state certification. Instead, states must come up with their own definition of an “effective teacher.” The feds are explicitly prohibited from telling states what that can be. More on this from my colleague Steve Sawchuk.

ESSA also bars the U.S. Department of Education from interfering with state and district teacher evaluations. Since ESSA passed, six states&mdashAlaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Oklahoma--have decided to stop using teacher evaluations that included student outcomes, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality. And other states have kept performance reviews, but made some modifications. Florida, for instance, has kept the student-growth measures, but allows districts to decide how they are calculated. More here from Liana Loewus. Got an ESSA question? Email it to or Or tweet at us @PoliticsK12.

Want to see what other readers are wondering? Here are links to past installments of this feature:

Can Districts Use ESSA Funds to Buy Crossing Guard Signs?

How Are States Handling Testing Opt-Outs Under ESSA?

Can Districts Use the SAT or ACT for School Accountability Without State OK?

Which States Are Eschewing School Grades?

How Can Districts and States Use ESSA to Bolster STEM and Computer Science?

What’s Going on With Testing Audits?

What’s Up With ESSA Block Grant Funding?

Is Testing the Only Way a Student Can Achieve Success Under ESSA?

Want to learn more about the Every Student Succeeds Act? Here’s some useful information: