No Child Left Behind Act: More Information Would Help States Determine Which Teachers Are Highly Qualified

GAO-03-631 Published: Jul 17, 2003. Publicly Released: Jul 17, 2003.
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In December 2001, Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA). The act required that all teachers of core subjects be highly qualified by the end of the 2005-06 school year and provided funding to help states and districts meet the requirement. In general, the act requires that teachers have a bachelor's degree, meet full state certification, and demonstrate subject area knowledge for every core subject they teach. This report focuses on the (1) number of teachers who met the highly qualified criteria during the 2002-03 school year, (2) conditions that hinder states' and districts' ability to meet the requirement, and (3) activities on which states and districts were planning to spend their Title II funds. GAO surveyed 50 states and the District of Columbia and a nationally representative sample of districts about their plans to implement the requirement. GAO also visited and interviewed officials in 8 states and 16 districts to discuss their efforts to implement the law.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Education In order to assist states' efforts to determine the number of highly qualified teachers they have and the actions they need to take to meet the requirement for highly qualified teachers by the end of the 2005-06 school year, the Secretary of Education should provide more information to states. Specifically, information is needed about methods to evaluate subject area knowledge of current teachers.
Closed – Implemented
In January 2004, the Department of Education issued a revised version of the guidance "Improving Teacher Quality." The revised guidance contains more information on how to evaluate subject area knowledge to meet the federal definition of a highly qualified teacher. Specifically, the guidance includes a new section, "High Objective Uniform State Standard of Evaluation," that, among other things, defines evaluation standards and factors to consider when developing them.

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