For Release: July 26, 2005
DOE Releases NCLB-Required Teacher Content Expertise Data
The New Jersey Department of Education today released the results of the second annual survey required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) to determine the number of teachers in the states public school classrooms who meet the federal governments definition of "highly qualified" in every core subject they teach.
At the elementary level, where all classes are self-contained, 95.6 percent of the teachers meet the federal definition. At the departmentalized middle and high school levels, where students change classes and have different teachers for different subjects, 93.4 percent and 94.9 percent of the teachers, respectively, meet the federal definition.
"New Jersey has set its own very high standards for teachers over the past 20 years, so the results of the survey are not surprising," said Commissioner of Education William L. Librera.
"However, its important for parents and the public to understand that the NCLB definition of a highly qualified teacher (HQT) is based solely on the attainment of specific credentials as a demonstration of subject content expertise. It has little to do with the quality of a teachers performance in the classroom," the Commissioner said.
Under NCLB, teachers have until the end of the 2005-06 school year to satisfy the requirements of the HQT definition, although there are no consequences in terms of job loss if teachers fail to meet the deadline. All new and newly-hired teachers in schools receiving Title I funding must satisfy the definition when they are hired.
"And while a district faces no federal sanctions or loss of federal funds if less than 100 percent of its teachers meet the HQT requirements, DOE believes that districts have a responsibility to support and monitor their teachers as they work to attaining the credentials they need," Commissioner Librera said.
During the coming school year, department officials will provide technical assistance to the 58 school districts and 22 charter schools in which less than 90 percent of the teachers have met the definition to help them set benchmarks for meeting the 100 percent goal.
"We need to pay particular attention to the middle and high schools in the Abbott districts and some of the other less wealthy districts, where it is clear that the results must improve," Commissioner Librera said.
Under NCLB, in order to meet the HQT definition, a teacher must demonstrate content expertise by either passing a required content exam in the subject he or she teachers, holding an undergraduate major in the subject, attaining 30 undergraduate credits (the equivalent of a major) in the subject, holding a graduate degree in the subject or holding an advance credential, such as a National Board certification, in the content.
Elementary school teachers satisfy the content requirement as generalists because they must demonstrate knowledge across the range of subjects taught in elementary school. Teachers who have passed New Jerseys Praxis II Elementary Content Knowledge Test, which has been required since 1985, have satisfied the NCLB HQT requirement.
Veteran middle and high school teachers have the option of demonstrating content expertise through the High Objective Uniform Standard Evaluation (HOUSE) Content Knowledge Matrix, developed by the state in accordance with NCLB rules, under which teachers receive credit for professional development activities, college course work and years of content teaching experience.
Special education teachers who provide direct instruction in core academic content, either as replacement teachers in resource settings or in self-contained classrooms, must meet the same HQT requirements as other teachers.
The 2004-05 survey indicates that 93.5 percent of the states public school classes are taught by HQT. This is consistent with the 2003-04 survey results (94.3 percent), although there is a slight decrease in the number of K-8 classes taught by HQT and a slight increase in the number of high school classes.
However, precise direct comparisons between the 2003-04 and 2004-05 results are difficult to make because different methods were used to collect the data from the districts.
The 2003-04 data was a summary of HQT status prepared by each district for each school. It did not include individual teacher information. The 2004-05 survey was compiled from the Certificated Staff Report, a statewide, school-based data collection system that includes every teacher, his or her certifications and class assignments and HQT status.
Other findings from the 2004-05 report: