Muddle in the Middle

By Stephen Sawchuk — August 25, 2008 1 min read
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This story on New Jersey’s progress toward meeting the goal of putting a “highly qualified” teacher in every classroom is interesting.

The state has 99 percent of teachers meeting the HQT standard. That’s impressive, but not unique: Almost every state is past the 90 percent mark now, and North Dakota actually reached 100 percent last year.

What’s telling is that the state is having a particularly hard time getting middle school educators highly qualified.

Under NCLB, middle and high school teachers are essentially held to the same standard: They need to hold a major or have completed coursework equivalent to a major to demonstrate subject-matter competency. But a number of states still grant broad K-8 licenses, and middle school teachers are much more likely than high school teachers to teach in more than one content area, meaning they would have to demonstrate subject-matter competency in multiple areas.

Some groups, such as the National Council on Teacher Quality, think middle school teachers of multiple subjects should only need to hold a minor (or coursework equivalent to a minor) to be considered HQT.

Is this a problem in your state? Are states readjusting their middle school certification fields in response? Or are they finding other ways to get these educators to be deemed an HQT in multiple subjects (such as through the alternative standard for veteran teachers)?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.