Feds, teachers differ on ‘highly qualified’

Laura Diamond:

Georgia teachers differ with the federal government as to how qualified they are, according to a national report released Tuesday.
While about 95 percent of Georgia’s middle and high school teachers met the federal requirement of “highly qualified,” only 65 percent of the teachers said in a survey that they had the appropriate certification, according to the study from the Education Trust, a child advocacy group.
The two percentages come from different reports completed during the 2003-04 school year, the last time the teacher survey was conducted by the U.S. Department of Education. The two reports also defined teacher quality differently.
The survey asked teachers to indicate whether they have full state certification in the subject they are assigned to teach.
The “highly qualified” label is mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act to ensure that all students have effective teachers. Congress passed the law in 2001 and allowed each state to develop its own definition of what constitutes a “highly qualified” teacher.
Georgia teachers are “highly qualified” if they have an academic degree in the subject matter they’re teaching; or if their college course work is equivalent to a major in that area; or if they pass a state content test in the subject.