Academic journal article Journal of Law and Education

Improving Teacher Quality in Ohio: The Limitations of the Highly Qualified Teacher Provision of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Academic journal article Journal of Law and Education

Improving Teacher Quality in Ohio: The Limitations of the Highly Qualified Teacher Provision of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Article excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 ("NCLB") reauthorized and amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the most comprehensive federal law governing education.1 As the most sweeping federal education legislation to date, NCLB has received unprecedented attention from the media, educators, and the academy. This research report seeks to contribute to the broad debate over NCLB by focusing on the implementation of one provision of the Act in the state of Ohio. Specifically, this report examines the NCLB mandate that all teachers be "highly qualified" by the end of the 2005-06 school year.2 An inquiry into the implementation of this mandate is particularly relevant at this time because every single state failed to meet the highly qualified teacher requirement by 2006 as NCLB intended.3 Nine states,4 the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico may lose federal aid for failing to make a sufficient effort to comply with this provision.5 Ohio was one of twenty-nine states determined to have made substantial progress toward the highly qualified teacher goal, and all states must give the Department of Education a plan for meeting this goal by the end of the 2006-07 school year.6

To document state progress toward ensuring teacher quality, NCLB demanded that states begin to report the percentage of teachers meeting the statute's highly qualified teacher standard in the 2002-03 school year.7 NCLB also allocated a portion of Title I funds to teacher professional development one mechanism for meeting this requirement and federal grants are available to states struggling to meet this requirement.8 Initial state reports on the highly qualified teacher mandate indicated wide variation, ranging from as low as 16% in Alaska and 25% in Puerto Rico to over 98% in Idaho and Wisconsin.9 Twenty states reported that over 90% of classrooms were taught by highly qualified teachers, but 4 states reported that less than half of classrooms met this NCLB mandate.10 Seven states had not filed reports by the end of 2003." For the 2002-03 school year, Ohio reported that 82% of its classes were taught by highly qualified teachers in all schools, and 78% in high-poverty schools.12 Scholars have noted that some of this state-by-state variation could be explained by inaccurate or incomplete data collection by states.13

Like these early state reports, the response to the highly qualified teacher requirements among district and school officials has been mixed. Many have charged that this provision will be particularly challenging in rural schools, middle schools, and in the sciences.14 This report focuses on the implementation of the highly qualified teacher requirement of NCLB in Ohio. A consideration of this particular provision's implementation helps to shift the educational policy debate on NCLB from a theoretical or political realm to a researchable one. This report attempts to discover and present the circumstances of the Ohio teachers and schools faced with meeting the highly qualified teacher requirement and the responses of Ohio schools to this mandate. Part II sets forth the elements of the NCLB definition of a highly qualified teacher, as well as the requirements for educator licensure under Ohio law. Part III briefly sets out the data sources and methodology used to examine the state's process and progress in implementing the highly qualified teacher requirement. Part IV analyzes the findings of this research and advocates the amendment of NCLB to require detailed school-level data reports procedures. Part V concludes with recommendations for future research.

II. FEDERAL AND STATE REQUIREMENTS FOR HIGHLY QUALIFIED TEACHERS

A. Federal Highly Qualified Teacher Requirements

According to the Act itself, NCLB is in part designed to support students in high-poverty schools and to close the achievement gap between minority and non-minority students.15 The NCLB requirement that teachers be "highly qualified" is directly linked to this goal. …

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