Highly Qualified Special Education Teachers
have an undergraduate and a master's degree in special education.
I hold certifications in LD, ED and MR. Do I meet the highly qualified
teacher requirements in IDEA 2004?"
you have a degree or degrees in special education, but not in the
academic subjects you teach, you may not be highly qualified. If you
teach core academic subjects, you must meet the
following requirements to be highly qualified:
You must have full state certification as a special education
teacher or pass your State special education teacher licensing examination
and hold a license to teach in the state.
Your certification or license cannot be waived on an emergency,
temporary, provisional basis.
You must hold at least a bachelor's degree.
You must demonstrate subject matter competence in the academic
subjects you teach. Requirements for Special
Education Teachers in IDEA 2004.
Note: The highly qualified teacher
requirements are somewhat different for new teachers and veteran teachers,
and for elementary, middle school, and high school teachers. (For
a complete description of these requirements, read "Chapter 6:
NCLB for Teachers, Principals and Paraprofessionals" in Wrightslaw:
No Child Left Behind)
2004 includes an "Exception for Special
Education Teachers Teaching to Alternate Achievement Standards"
"Special Education Teachers Teaching Multiple
Subjects" (the full text of the definition of highly qualified
special education teacher is in 20
U.S.C. 1401 - Definitions).
Can a Teacher Demonstrate Competence?
Your degrees are in "special education" which is not a core
You may have taken enough courses in the academic subject(s) you teach
to meet the highly qualified teacher requirements in your state.
States also have the option of developing a method by which current
teachers can demonstrate competency in the subjects they teach. This
method must be based on a "high objective uniform state standard
of evaluation" (HOUSSE). In essence, these procedures must provide
an objective way of determining if teachers have adequate subject
matter knowledge in the subjects they teach. There are several requirements
about these HOUSSE procedures that are too lengthy and detailed for
this general article. (The publications listed at the end of this
article will provide you with more information.)
Special Educators Who Do Not Provide Instruction
you do not provide instruction in core academic subjects -
English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science (complete
list of core academic subjects), you do not have to meet the highly
qualified teacher requirements.
learn how the law affects you, download and read these publications
from the U. S. Department of Education:
for Teachers is designed to answer questions about the "highly
qualified teacher" provisions, testing, reading, scientifically
based research, English language learners, Reading First grants, and
Teacher Quality State Grants, Non-Regulatory Guidance - While
you may be tempted to pass on this publication from the U. S. Department
of Education, we advise you to read it. It will answer many of your
questions - it's clearly written in a Q & A format.
Teacher Quality answers questions like these:
* Must special education teachers who teach core academic subjects
be highly qualified? (Question C-26)
* What activities may special education teachers carry out if they
are not highly qualified in the core academic content areas being
taught?" (Question C-27)
Must elementary school subject specialists be highly qualified in
all subjects or just the subject they teach? (Question C-28)
* Do teachers who primarily teach English language learners need to
meet the highly qualified requirements? (Question C-22)
* Do short- and long-term substitute teachers need to meet the highly
qualified requirements? (Question C-24)
you read about changes in IDEA 2004, you need to remember that Congress
intended to align the Individuals
with Disabilities Act (IDEA) with the No
Behind Act, the federal general education law. (The
full text of the No
Child Left Behind Act is
No Child Left Behind)
The term "core academic
subjects means English, reading or language arts, mathematics,
science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts,
history, and geography." (No Child Left Behind Act, 20 U.S.C.
Section 7801(11); see pages 65-66 of Wrightslaw:
No Child Left Behind)
definitions are from IDEA 2004 -
(B) REQUIREMENTS FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHERS.--When
used with respect to any public elementary school or secondary school
special education teacher teaching in a State, such term means that--
(i) the teacher has obtained full State certification as a special
education teacher (including certification obtained through alternative
routes to certification), or passed the State special education teacher
licensing examination, and holds a license to teach in the State as
a special education teacher, except that when used with respect to
any teacher teaching in a public charter school, the term means that
the teacher meets the requirements set forth in the State's public
charter school law;
(ii) the teacher has not had special education certification or licensure
requirements waived on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basis;
(iii) the teacher holds at least a bachelor's degree.
(C) SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHERS TEACHING
TO ALTERNATE ACHIEVEMENT STANDARDS.--When used with respect to
a special education teacher who teaches core academic subjects exclusively
to children who are assessed against alternate achievement standards
established under the regulations promulgated under section 1111(b)(1)
of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, such term means
the teacher, whether new or not new to the profession, may either--
(i) meet the applicable requirements of section 9101 of such Act for
any elementary, middle, or secondary school teacher who is new or
not new to the profession; or
(ii) meet the requirements of subparagraph (B) or (C) of section 9101(23)
of such Act as applied to an elementary school teacher, or, in the
case of instruction above the elementary level, has subject matter
knowledge appropriate to the level of instruction being provided,
as determined by the State, needed to effectively teach to those standards.
SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHERS TEACHING MULTIPLE
SUBJECTS.--When used with respect to a special education teacher
who teaches 2 or more core academic subjects exclusively to children
with disabilities, such term means that the teacher may either--
meet the applicable requirements of section 9101 of the Elementary
and Secondary Education Act of 1965 for any elementary, middle, or
secondary school teacher who is new or not new to the profession;
(ii) in the case of a teacher who is not new to the profession, demonstrate
competence in all the core academic subjects in which the teacher
teaches in the same manner as is required for an elementary, middle,
or secondary school teacher who is not new to the profession under
section 9101(23)(C)(ii) of such Act, which may include a single, high
objective uniform State standard of evaluation covering multiple subjects;
(iii) in the case of a new special education teacher who teaches multiple
subjects and who is highly qualified in mathematics, language arts,
or science, demonstrate competence in the other core academic subjects
in which the teacher teaches in the same manner as is required for
an elementary, middle, or secondary school teacher under section 9101(23)(C)(ii)
of such Act, which may include a single, high objective uniform State
standard of evaluation covering multiple subjects, not later than
2 years after the date of employment.
Learn more about IDEA
How Can I Know if my Child's Teacher is Highly Qualified?
Teacher Credentials: Can I Request them without Insulting a Teacher?
Latest revision: 06/19/09