How Can I Know if My Child’s Teacher is Highly Qualified?

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Do I have a right to know the qualifications of my child’s teachers? If the answer is “yes,” how long does the school have to provide me with this information?


Congress has reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the statute formerly known as No Child Left Behind. The new statute, Every Student Succeeds Act, was signed into law by President Obama on December 10, 2015.


The answer is “yes” if your child attends a school that receives Title I funding, and “maybe” if the school does not receive Title I funds.

At the beginning of the school year, your school district must notify parents of all children who attend Title I schools of their right to request information about the qualifications of their child’s teachers and paraprofessionals, including . . .

(1) Whether the teacher has met State qualification and licensing criteria for the grade levels and subject areas in which the teacher provides instruction;

(2) Whether the teacher is teaching under emergency or other provisional status through which State qualification or licensing criteria have been waived.

(3) The baccalaureate degree major of the teacher and any other graduate certification or degree held by the teacher, and the field of discipline of the certification or degree.

(4) Whether the child is provided services by paraprofessionals and, if so, their qualifications.

Are teachers who instruct students with Specific Learning Disabilities in general education classes “highly qualified”?

Teachers are “highly qualified” to teach academic subjects. To be “highly qualified,” special ed teachers must demonstrate that they are competent to teach academic subjects. They can do this by having a degree in the subject or by passing a knowledge and skills test. The knowledge and skills tests are developed by state departments of education so the quality and content differs between states. Most tests are not rigorous.

Special ed teachers who are not highly qualified can assist highly qualified teachers, give advice about accommodations, etc.

If you want to get information about the qualifications of your child’s teachers, you need to make your request in writing. When you make requests in writing, you make it more likely that you will get an answer.

Read NCLB: Parent’s Rights to Know Qualifications of Child’s Teachers. This article answers questions about highly qualified teachers and includes a sample letter you can use to request information about the qualifications of your child’s teachers.

If the school does not answer your request in a couple of weeks, send another letter explaining that you sent a letter on XXX Date and haven’t received a response. Attach letter #1 to this letter.

If the school does not provide the information you requested, contact the No Child Left Behind Regional Representative for your state. [no longer available]

NCLB Representatives are responsible for helping states comply with the law and for monitoring compliance in their region. To find the Regional Representative for your state, click here: [no longer available]

  1. Now that ESSA has been gutted and Highly Qualified Teachers are no longer required under that act, are the protections in the IDEA still relevant? Is a student with an IEP still entitled to a qualified special education teacher?

  2. Are counselors included also? I have reason to believe my child counselor does not have the proper credentials to be working in his capacity. On the school website his professional title is listed as receptionist. His behavior does not convey someone who has qualifications or experience.

  3. Teachers are “highly qualified” to teach academic subjects. However, in cases when it comes to speech therapists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists your child may not be receiving services from “highly qualified” professionals. For instance, in states like Georgia and Washington a para-professional may be performing services under the guidance of a SLP, OT, or PT therapist. The Special Education Directors aim is to keep their budget low & will take short cuts if the law allows it. However, this is an injustice to the child with special needs who struggles day to day with their disability. A para-professional does not have the educational knowledge or background to attend to the needs of a child with special needs. Parents check always to see who is performing services.

  4. My state has a licensure verification system, but I find it rather difficult to navigate to get the information I’m looking for. With the implementation of common core, has that affected the description of highly-qualified teacher? And, I don’t seem to be able to find an endorsement for Self Contained General Education under PEL. What exactly is the role of a self contained general education endorsed teacher? The general Ed. Area for the PEL is not noted in the states verification system. Is writing a formal letter the best bet?

  5. May I make the request for qualifications even though my child has no learning challenges? Talking w/guidance counselor since sept. New teacher and class is out of control making it not conducive for my child’s learning style. He was a long term sub in another elementary in our district. Is there any way to find out if there were complaints made. Thank you

    • I did not focus on teacher qualifications when this situation occurred with my child in middle school. I knew the school had dumped students with IEPs and behaviors into a classroom with a frazzled teacher and was tracking the students away from full inclusion. I did not call out the administrators as I had a strategy. I focused and targeted “instructional design and delivery” in regards to my child and my child’s specific needs. My child was taken out of that class and placed in small group targeted instruction which was amazing. I learned to navigate the system. I did not complain about the teacher but presented data and documents. They also knew I was very aware of my child’s rights. My style was “strategic advocacy” with targeted goals. My child is in college and doing well.


    Are teachers informed about a parent’s FOIA request for copies of their resumes? AND are these parent requests placed in their child’s permanent records?

    I had made such a request, and it resulted in a cancelled meeting, a newly scheduled PPT, a furious psychologist, and strained relations with the team members.

    I appreciate any insight and/or advice.

    Thank you.

  7. I hold a Professional Teaching License Speech/Language Pathology K – 21, a Professional Teaching License in Reg. Education K – 6 grade, I hold an endorsement in Affective Needs K – 21, am HQ in English (high school). I’ve taught for 29 years and I’m now retired, but enjoying substitute teaching. I have been offered a 6 week (long term) sub job working with ILC (multiple handicapped) students. I will be working with 2 other HQ teachers. Do I need to be HQ to work with these Profound kids in this situation?

  8. Regular and Charter schools in Arizona did not provide my autistic son with qualified teachers, programs, and he should have been placed in private autism school by the state we were treated like an enemy not a constituent in my son’s education. I am disgusted that “experts” do as little as possible, hire lawyers to skirt laws, while I am trying to make ends meet trying to provide food and shelter for my family. I have no money to fight the schools, or hire advocates and lawyers, in the meantime my autistic son can barely read or knows anything and he is a more mild case. Schools collect over 29,000 a year for him yet do minimal. We took him out of school and have him doing an online class for high school while we figure out who is qualified to help him . He is almost 15 and things need to change for him quickly .

  9. I am nearing the end of my BA degree program. I will have a BA in SpEd and one in Gen Ed. If I apply for a Gen Ed license and add a SpEd Generalist endorsement would that make me highly qualified or would I have to have a Master’s in SpEd?

  10. Challenge statements. Highly qualified does not mean that a teacher can implement a program with fidelity. Let us use the Wislon language programs as most people are not trained in this program and thei school districts will not pay for the trainings….so they teach a program under such circumstances. I have seen this. Sometimes the teachers who teach Wilson do it with such a commitment and passion that they learn,read and implement the program with fidelity. Further, I mt a reading speciality who has never heard of Wilson or the OG metnod. I have met teachers who just go through the motions and angry with the students for having to teach them Wilson. I am not so sure about highly qualified–what about highly passionate and trained.m

  11. here in cali a parent can go to the teacher credentialing website, put in the teachers name and get basic information about that teachers NCLB qualifications. I am a teacher here and I checked on it for my own qualifications. Dont know if other states have that or not.

  12. A Title 1 school is a school that has a certain specified percentage of children who are at or below poverty level, correct? These schools must inform parents of the teacher’s teaching qualifications and status. In another article, you wrote that if Title 1 schools are not meeting Average Yearly Progress goals, parents have a right to transfer their child, correct? I learned that in our school district all the Title 1 schools met their AYP goals this year. Non-title 1 schools did not, some for the second time in 2 years. I’m confused why protections extended to Title 1 schools are not available to all schools. This policy, that was clearly meant to benefit a very vulnerable population, has had the effect of discriminating against other children. In today’s economy, EVERYONE is vulnerable and many are just a paycheck away from poverty.

  13. My son is a child with dyslexia and I feel the need to see his classroom and instructional materials used. I am not able to to so. What does a free lunch program have to do with Title I? I think that answer is out in left field. I mentioned that I have always seen my child placement in other schools and why the big secret. Parents would not be able to attend any events, pick up their child et. al and I just got a blank wall. Should I write to their superiors to get more of a clear answer. I thought TItle I was Federal funding how does that relate to a free lunch program or does it?


    My child is hearing impaired, has an IEP and requires special education services. Does the EC teacher working with my child have to be educated in Deaf and Hearing Impaired?

  15. I have a teacher who is NOT HQ, but the district has insisted because they have no one else to provide, I have to accept her. My daughter is medically fragile, and she has to receive HHI (Home Hospital Instruction)..basically in-home instruction…she is 10 years old, and they have assigned a pre-school teacher to her case who comes out and only reads to her (pre-school books) for 90 minutes. She does no curriculum and does not implement any thematic units, appropriate for her. How do you get the district to place someone appropriate? And..the district forced me to sign away FAPE for my daughter last year, so, is this how they get away with providing a teacher who is not HQ?

  16. Lori:

    You are frustrated, angry and planning to meet with the school board. Have your written a letter to request the teacher’s qualifications? Talking to people and making verbal requests is an inefficient way to get information and leaves you with nothing in writing if you need it later.

    If you have an important question or receive an important piece of information during a conversation, always follow up with a polite note or letter so it is clear what you were told/not told.

    This post includes a link to a sample letter that parents can modify to meet their needs (contact info, etc). If the school does not respond, send a 2nd letter and attach letter #1. If no response to 2nd letter, you can go up the chain of command and are likely to get what you want.

  17. My husband and I have specifically asked our son’s teacher what her qualifications to teach our son are. He has dyslexia and needs to be taught correctly. It is now December and we still don’t know the answer. We have even went up the chain of command and the only response is “we told her to update her information on the computer”. This has never been done. We are frustrated and angry. The school just doen’t see this as something of importance. Our next step is to the school board. Do you have any other advice?

  18. cal: Go back to the top of the article and read what the law says.

    You have a right to information about the qualifications of your child’s teachers and paraprofessionals. The law does not provide you with a right to information about other teachers who are not teaching your child.

  19. Am I entitled to know if teachers in my child’s school or district (those not specifically teaching him, but potential future teachers) are certified in specific reading intervention programs?

  20. This is great information.

    NCLB requires teachers to be highly qualified and that parents be informed of the teacher’s qualifications.

    In the event that the school does not provide a highly qualified teacher for your child, there doesn’t seem to be anything parents can do about it.

    My child’s school documented a specific training schedule for one staff member who was to be hired and specified a HQ teacher by first and last name including starting date. Instruction was provided by a different person who was not highly qualified.

    The staff that was to be trained was not hired for over seven months. Data was collected as if staff and were in place during this time.

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