“State Board approves "highly
qualified” teacher definition
All Illinois teachers – some sooner than most –
will have to meet the definition of a highly qualified teacher approved
by the State Board of Education today. The Board acted on the definition,
one of its responsibilities in implementing the new federal No Child Left
Behind Act, during its Thursday morning session.
Teachers newly hired this school year to work in programs
supported by federal Title I funds must meet the definition immediately,
while all other existing public school teachers in any of the core curriculum
areas have until the end of 2005-2006 school year to comply. The core
areas are English/language arts, mathematics, science, civics, government,
economics, history, geography, foreign language and fine arts,
Generally, an Illinois teacher is “highly qualified”
if the individual meets all the certification criteria for early childhood,
elementary or secondary or special (or special pre-K through age 21) certificate;
and holds the certificate(s), and is teaching in the corresponding subject(s)
and grade level(s). Under NCLB, states must establish specific qualifications
that are consistent with the federal definition. The more detailed aspects
of Illinois’ definition are attached to this release.
Teachers who hold alternative certificates or resident
teacher certificates are highly qualified because they have passed the
required teacher examinations. Individuals teaching on approvals, PZZs,
or short-term emergency certificates also meet the definition if
they hold a certificate for the grade-level taught. However, they would
not be highly qualified if their short-term emergency certificate is based
on holding a transitional bilingual certificate.
There are three notable exceptions to the highly qualified
definition – it does not apply to individuals who hold a Type 29
transitional bilingual education certificate; a type 39 substitute teacher
certificate; or a provisional Illinois certificate for teachers
who are licensed in another state and want to teach in Illinois.
To address the Type 29 issue, ISBE will
seek legislation to
- make the Type 29 valid for four years with a possible
- require persons seeking the certificate to pass the
language proficiency and basic skills test;
- require that, after two years, the individuals must
be enrolled in and making progress toward full certification in an approved
teacher education program;
- require the individuals, at the end of four years,
to pass the content area test and the new Assessment of Professional
Teaching which goes into effect in 2003;
- allow individuals who fail those tests to continue
teaching for an additional two years as long as they are making progress
in an approved program.
Individuals who hold the Type 39 Substitute
certificate could only be highly qualified if they also hold a valid early
childhood, elementary, secondary or special certificate and are teaching
in the appropriate grade level(s) and subject matter(s).
To become highly qualified, individuals who are licensed
in another state and hold a provisional Illinois certificate must follow
current procedures – do whatever necessary to meet the requirements
for a comparable Illinois certificate and pass any applicable teaching
Parent Notification. NCLB’s push
toward ensuring all students have highly qualified teachers includes new
notification requirements for school districts.
Parents must be notified in a “timely” manner
when their child has been taught for four or more consecutive weeks by
one or more teachers who are not “highly qualified.”
In addition, school districts that receive Title I funds
must annually notify parents that they can request information about the
professional qualifications of their child’s classroom teacher.
Parent notices must include information about whether the teacher has
met state licensing criteria, is teaching under an emergency or provisional
certificate, the teacher’s college major and bachelor’s degree,
any other graduate certification or degree, and the subject area of the
certification or degree. Parents must also be told if their child is served
by a paraprofessional and, if so, that individuals qualifications.
The specific requirements in the approved definition are
Illinois State Board of Education
Illinois Certification Requirements
Related to NCLB
Definition of Highly Qualified Teacher
Adopted September 19, 2002
After the first day of the 2002-2003 school year, all
newly hired teachers in programs supported with Title I funds must be
“highly qualified” according to the definition set forth in
the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). By the end of the 2005-2006 school
year, all teachers in core academic subjects must be “highly qualified”
in areas of teaching assignment. Core academic subjects are: English,
reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics
and government, economics, arts, history and geography.
Under the NCLB, teachers are considered “highly
qualified” if they have a bachelor’s degree, have full State
certification and have demonstrated subject matter competence in the areas
taught. In providing a definition of “highly qualified” for
teachers who already hold current Illinois certificates, ISBE is offering
guidance on what is considered full State certification and is setting
the “high objective uniform State standard of evaluation”
necessary to determine competency in the subject mater taught as required
by the federal law.
The following general guideline is provided to assist
local school districts in determining whether current teachers in Illinois
meet the federal definition of “highly qualified” teacher.
Teachers who meet the state criteria for certification
in early childhood, elementary or secondary education or in areas requiring
a special (or special pre-K through age 21) certificate, and are providing
instruction in the grade level and subject area for which they are certified
meet the definition of “highly qualified.”
Application to those teachers who hold current Illinois
teaching certificates (early childhood, elementary, secondary, special
K-12 and special pre-K through age 21):
- Each early childhood, elementary, middle level and
secondary teacher who teaches a core academic subject shall hold a valid
certificate for the grade level(s) and subject matter to be taught.
- Each elementary teacher shall have formal training
through university coursework in each basic instructional area to be
- Each middle grade level teacher certified on or after
July 1, 1997, who teaches in a departmentalized setting must have 18
semester hours in the major subject s/he is assigned to teach and 6
semester hours of specified coursework related to teaching middle grade
students. If a middle grade level teacher is assigned to teach in more
than one area, additional coursework is required in the second teaching
area as identified in Section 1.720 of Title 23 of the Illinois Administrative
Code. Each middle grade or junior high level teacher certified before
July 1, 1997 must meet the requirements specified in Section 1.720 of
Title 23 of the Illinois Administrative Code for the time period applicable
the date of certification or endorsement.
- Teachers who currently hold an elementary certificate
need not have endorsements in each subject taught if the teacher is
teaching in a self-contained classroom at the elementary level. Teachers
assigned to departmentalized grades 5-8 must meet the requirements for
teaching in the middle grades.
- Secondary teachers must have the requisite number
of semester hours in the subject matter area and specific coursework
preparation in any individual subject area that the teacher may be assigned
to teach as identified in Section 1.730 of Title 23 of the Illinois
Administrative Code. For example, most areas require 24 semester hours,
but foreign languages require 20 semester hours and reading requires
18 semester hours. Additional coursework in specific subject matters
are required to teach certain areas. For example, a teacher with an
endorsement in general science would need to obtain additional coursework
in physics or chemistry in order to be highly qualified in either of
- Teachers with endorsements on certificates may teach
additional subjects covered by the endorsement. These endorsements require
specific coursework depending on the subject matter endorsement as described
in Part I of 23 Illinois Administrative Code. Teachers are evaluated
with a uniform state standard of transcript review to determine eligibility
for endorsements at the time of issuance.
- Teachers who do not have endorsements on their certificates
may meet the federal requirement by: (a) having an academic major in
the subject matter taught, (b) passing a subject matter examination
in each academic subject taught, or (c) satisfying the requirements
for an endorsement through a transcript review conducted by the school
district. School districts must verify that teachers without endorsements
or who have not passed the subject matter examination have completed
coursework that satisfies the requirements for their teaching assignment.
- Teachers with special K-12 certificates have specific
subject matter endorsements and may teach only that subject, unless
the teacher holds additional certificates. The subject area endorsement
requires preparation in the area of specialization with specific course
requirements outlined in Section 1.730 of Title 23 of the Illinois Administrative
- Teachers with special pre-K through age 21 certificates
have specific endorsements for teaching students with disabilities,
as listed in Part 28 of ISBE’s administrative rules. Teachers
with the LBS I/limited endorsement may be assigned to teach only those
students with disabilities for which they held a pre-existing credential
until the limitations expire, except that teachers may serve students
with one additional disability in a cross-categorical setting. Teachers
with the LBS I endorsement may be assigned to teach students with any
of the disabilities covered under the LBS I credential.
- Since 1988, all teacher candidates must have successfully
completed a test of content knowledge related to their subject matter
concentration, along with the Basic Skills test.
Application to teachers who are new to the profession:
(early childhood, elementary, secondary, special and special pre-K through
- Teachers must hold a bachelor’s degree.
- Teachers must obtain an early childhood, elementary,
secondary or special certificate with an endorsement for the particular
subject matter taught, if applicable.
- All teacher candidates seeking Initial Illinois teacher
certification must pass the basic skills test. Teachers in early childhood
programs must pass the early childhood certification test, elementary
teachers must pass the elementary certification test, and secondary
and special area teachers must successfully complete a test of content
knowledge related to their subject matter concentration.
- Beginning October 2003, in addition to successfully
completing tests of basic skills and content knowledge, teacher candidates
will also need to successfully complete a test of “common-core
knowledge” which will assess them on the Illinois Professional
Teaching Standards (which include special education standards and pedagogy),
and language arts and technology standards. This test will be known
as the Assessment of Professional Teaching or APT.
Application to other certificates:
- Persons who hold a valid teaching certificate from
another state and receive a provisional certificate in Illinois are
not considered highly qualified for purposes of the federal law. After
persons with a provisional certificate satisfy any deficiencies necessary
to meet the requirements for a comparable Illinois certificate and pass
any applicable examinations they will be considered highly qualified.
- Persons who hold alternative certificates in Illinois
are considered highly qualified given that they have passed the required
- Persons who hold resident teacher certificates in
Illinois are considered highly qualified given that they have passed
the required examinations.
- Persons who hold transitional bilingual teaching (Type
29) certificates are not considered to be highly qualified. ISBE will
propose a change to the current law as follows: (a) the Type 29 certificate
would be valid for four years with a two-year extension; (b) persons
seeking a Type 29 would be required to pass the language proficiency
test and the basic skills test; (c) after two years’ time, the
person must be enrolled and making progress in an approved program leading
to full certification; and (d) at the end of four years’ time,
the person must take the content area test and the Assessment of Professional
If the person passes the tests and completes the required
program, then he or she would be issued an Initial teaching certificate.
If the person does not pass the content area test and APT, he or she
could apply for a two-year extension on the certificate as long as
progress is being made in the approved program.
Teachers who are currently teaching on a Type 29 certificate
must obtain full state certification by the end of the 2005-2006 school
year. Teachers whose Type 29 certificates are valid after June 30,
2006 may still retain their certificate but they will not be considered
“highly qualified” teachers for purposes of the federal
Teachers who currently hold transitional bilingual
teaching (Type 29) certificates may become “highly qualified”
for purposes of federal law by passing the basic skills test and the
applicable content area test. After October 2003, teachers will also
have to pass the APT. Teachers who pass these examinations still have
to complete an approved program to qualify for receipt of an Illinois
certificate when their Type 29 certificate expires.
- Special education teachers who are teaching on approvals,
PZZs, or short-term emergency certificates meet the definition of highly
qualified as long as they hold a certificate that is valid for the grade
level taught. However, teachers who received the short-term emergency
certificate based on holding a transitional bilingual certificate do
not meet the “highly qualified” definition. Illinois is
still seeking guidance on the continued applicability of the federal
regulations implementing IDEA that permit a person to teach with less
than full certification for three years as long as the district is unable
to locate a fully certified teacher.
- Persons who hold a substitute teacher’s certificate
(Type 39) are not considered highly qualified for purposes of the federal
law. Those persons who substitute teach and hold early childhood, elementary,
secondary, special or special pre-K through age 21 certificates are
considered highly qualified if they provide instruction in the grade
level and subject area for which they are certified.
- Schools receiving Title I (Part A) funds must give
parents "timely notice" that their children have been assigned
or taught, for four or more consecutive weeks, by a teacher who is not
"highly qualified." For example, if a person with only a substitute
teacher’s certificate teaches a class for longer than four consecutive
weeks, the notice must be sent. On the other hand, if the same substitute
teacher teaches for three weeks, the regular teacher (who is considered
highly qualified) returns for a week, and then the substitute takes
over for the next week, the notice is not required. If the substitute
teacher has the proper credentials for teaching that classroom and is
considered highly qualified, then the notice requirement is not applicable.
Please see the following page for a sample notice.
- School districts that receive Title I funds must also
annually inform parents that they may request information regarding
the professional qualifications (e.g., certification, endorsements,
degree or other information related to teaching credentials) of their
children's classroom teachers. This does not include disclosing transcripts
or employment evaluations. This notice must include the parent's right
to request, at a minimum, information about:
- whether the teacher has met state qualification and
licensing criteria for the grade levels and subject areas taught.
- whether the teacher is teaching under emergency or
other provisional status.
- the baccalaureate degree major of the teacher and
any other graduate certification or degree held by the teacher, and
the subject area of the certification or degree.
- whether the child is provided service by paraprofessionals
and, if so, their qualifications.