The new Teach for America or Oakland Teaching Fellows teacher at your school may be stellar, but a federal appeals court has ruled today that she shouldn’t be deemed “highly qualified” under the No Child Left Behind Act.
The ninth circuit appellate panel reversed its earlier decision and ruled 2-1 in favor of community groups who sued the U.S. Department of Education in 2007. The plaintiffs argued it was misleading to call California’s intern teachers — those who are placed straight into the classroom with little formal teacher training and pursue their full credential as they teach — highly qualified.
In the NCLB context (and I quote from the Department of Ed’s website), the term means teachers must have:
1) a bachelor’s degree, 2) full state certification or licensure, and 3) prove that they know each subject they teach.
You can read the full court ruling here. This will mean that school districts will need to notify parents if their child has a teacher with an intern credential — a status that includes more than 10,000 teachers in California. It might apply to about 100,000 teachers nationwide who have not completed their training, according to Public Advocates, the San Francisco-based law firm that litigated the case.
“It doesn’t mean they can’t teach,” said Wynn Hausser, of Public Advocates. But, he said, he hoped it would lead to a more equitable distribution of intern teachers, which are typically placed in hard-to-fill positions — often, in low-income areas.
“It’s really hard to solve a problem if you can’t see a problem,” he said.