Transcript of NCSET teleconference call held on June 29,
Highly Qualified Teachers Under No Child Left Behind
Assistant to the Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Education
Dr. Janice Poda
Division of Teacher Quality
South Carolina Department of Education
Director of the Office of Exceptional Children
South Carolina Department of Education
Download the PowerPoint presentations referenced in this
DR. JONES: Good afternoon and welcome to
“Highly Qualified Teachers under No Child Left Behind:
Implications for Secondary Special Education.” I am [Bonnie
Jones and I am] on the line from Washington, DC at the U.S. Department
of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, where I am Project
Officer for the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition
and the Center on Improving Teacher Quality. I would like to take
a moment to recognize Jean Miller, Project Director at the Center
for Improving Teacher Quality housed at the Council for Chief State
School Officers here in Washington, DC. The Center is cosponsoring
this event and Jean will be moderating today’s presentation
from South Carolina as well as the question and answer session.
I would like to also extend a special welcome to our Exiting TA
Community of Practice members.
Today, we are pleased to welcome Gretchen Slease, Janice Poda,
and Susan Durant as our presenters. I will give a short bio for
each before we proceed to their presentations. First, Gretchen Slease,
representing the U.S. Department of Education, currently works with
Deputy Secretary of Education, Gene Hitchcock, assisting him on
teacher quality issues. Gretchen has traveled the country, speaking
and providing technical assistance regarding the “highly qualified
teacher” provisions in the No Child Left Behind Act
of 2001. Gretchen helped to write and edit the No
Child Left Behind:
A Toolkit for Teachers which can be found on the Web at http://www.ed.gov/teachers/nclbguide/index2.html
and was updated in May 2004. She graduated from Vanderbilt University
in 1992 with an English and education studies double major. She
received her Masters Degree at Peabody College of Vanderbilt in
1998 in curriculum and instructional leadership. Before coming to
Washington in July 2002, Gretchen taught upper elementary and middle
school students for 10 years in Nashville. She taught the general
curriculum focusing on reading, language arts, and social studies,
using an inclusion model for students with disabilities.
From South Carolina we have Janice Poda and Susan Durant. Dr. Janice
Poda is the Senior Director of the Division of Teacher Quality at
the South Carolina Department of Education. The Division of Teacher
Quality provides guidance and technical assistance to teachers in
the areas of preparation, certification, and evaluation as well
as No Child Left Behind. Prior to this position, Dr. Poda
served for 10 years as the Director of the South Carolina Center
for Teacher Recruitment, now known as the Center for Educator Recruitment,
Retention, and Advancement. Janice has also served as the Assistant
Superintendent for Personnel in Greenwood, South Carolina. She has
been a middle school social studies teacher and a high school special
educator. She received her BA degree in social studies from the
University of South Carolina, her Masters degree from the University
of Georgia in special education, and a Ph.D. from the University
of South Carolina. Janice has received, from Winthrop University,
the Richard W. Riley College of Education Award of Excellence for
Educational Leadership as well as the Distinguished Alumni Award
from the University of South Carolina College of Education.
And finally, Susan Durant has 23 years of experience in special
education administration. She has been Director of the Office of
Exceptional Children, South Carolina Department of Education since
July 2000. Prior to this time, Ms. Durant was Executive Director
of Special Education in the Richland County South School District
#1 in South Carolina.
The format for today’s teleconference will be 45 minutes
of presentation with a question and answer period afterwards. We
ask that you hold your questions until after the presentations are
completed. Now I will turn the teleconference over to Gretchen.
MS. SLEASE: Hello. My name is Gretchen Slease
and I work for the Deputy Secretary and I wanted to, in my part
of the presentation, just give an overview of No Child Left
Behind and the highly qualified teacher provisions and talk
a little bit about how they apply to special education teachers.
And I will try my hardest not to use acronyms and if I happen to
say NCLB, then I am referring to No Child Left Behind
and IDEA of course is the Individuals with Disabilities Education
Act and then if I say HQT which I will try not to, it is “highly
First of all, as an overview, on the federal level, No Child
Left Behind defines what it means to be a highly qualified
teacher of a core academic subject. Then going down to the state
level, states can add to this minimum requirement as to what it
means to be highly qualified according to a state’s needs
and interests and certification in other areas. And then finally,
local district leaders, principals, and teachers decide what makes
a teacher highly effective in addition to highly qualified. And
I say that because as a teacher, I think there is not an intention
in this law to equate highly qualified to highly effective. We leave
that to local decisionmaking to determine who is highly effective
and the law – that’s a framework for and a standard
for recruiting highly qualified teachers.
The highly qualified teacher provisions in No Child Left Behind
help ensure that our students, regardless of their disability, have
access to quality instruction and a challenging curriculum. No
Child Left Behind did not come out of thin air; it strengthens
the work begun in the 1994 version of the Elementary and Secondary
Education Act, called the Improving America’s Schools Act,
and reflects some of the same research and experience which influenced
the 1997 reauthorization of IDEA. And I say that because I think
it’s important to think about how No Child Left Behind
and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act can work together.
There is a section in the IDEA, Section 601-C5, Sections A, C, D,
and E – and it’s in my PowerPoint if I have confused
anybody – it says over 20 years of research and experience
have demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities
can be made more effective by having high expectations for such
children and ensuring their access to the general curriculum to
the maximum extent possible. And I think that’s what the goal
of NCLB in the highly qualified teacher provisions really
is – to make sure that kids with disabilities and others have
access to the general curriculum.
But they also need to have access to teachers who know that curriculum
well and going back to No Child Left Behind, the law defines
a highly qualified teacher as one who holds a bachelor’s degree,
full state certification or state licensure, and a highly qualified
teacher certainly has demonstrated subject area competence in each
of the academic subjects they teach. Now, a bachelor’s is
a given and no one really argues with that. The full state certification
is really up to the state to make that as complex or as streamlined
as possible. But it’s the subject area competence part that
if you imagine a three-legged stool for highly qualified teachers,
it’s that third leg of the stool that is the most challenging
and, I think, has caused the most concern, especially when it comes
to special education teachers, who may at any given time teach multiple
subjects on the secondary level. Going back to full state certification,
federal law doesn’t say what type of certification is necessary
for which teaching position. That is purely a state decision. The
state sets those requirements for certification hopefully with input
from others and with consideration for the importance of recruiting
people into the teaching profession who might not be traditional
candidates, especially when it comes to meeting critical shortage
areas. And you could include special education in these types of
critical shortage areas. And finally, it’s really important
for us to share that this is not true, that NCLB
does not require special education teachers to re-certify
in every subject that they teach. Certification is not the issue.
The issue is to make sure that those teachers are able to demonstrate
competency in each subject that they teach, not obtain certification
in each subject. That’s a common fear and mistake that people
Moving on to the third leg of the stool, which tends to be the
most challenging in the IDEA, is subject matter. Teachers who teach
core academic subjects must know the subjects that they are teaching
and the core academic subjects are English, reading and language
arts, math, science, arts, foreign language, history, geography,
economics, and civics and government. So for those core academic
subjects, teachers who teach those subjects need to demonstrate
that they have knowledge in those subjects.
There are certain deadlines for the highly qualified teacher requirements.
In other words, as districts are hiring and states are supporting
the hiring of teachers, there are deadlines for new teachers and
then there are deadlines for teachers who are already in the profession.
For new teachers of core academic subjects hired after the start
of the 02-03 school year which of course has already passed, those
teachers need to already meet the highly qualified requirements
if they are to teach in a Title I school. If they are not teaching
in a Title I school, then they have until the end of the 05-06 school
year. And for all the other teachers who are already in the classroom,
those teachers have until the end of the 05-06 school year as well
to make sure that they meet the highly qualified requirements of
their state as influenced by No Child Left Behind.
There is a sidenote and I am not going to go into this in detail,
but it is on the Department’s Web site. There are some flexible
deadlines that may apply for multi-subject teachers who happen to
teach in small rural schools and that also obviously apply to special
ed teachers to teach multiple subjects in small rural schools. And
there is a formula to determine whether the school district is eligible
as a small rural district. And those teachers have three years from
the hiring date basically or three years from this year to meet
the highly qualified requirements. They need to be highly qualified
in one subject, but then have three years additionally to become
highly qualified in the other subjects they may teach.
What do your requirements mean for teachers new to the profession
or if you are an elementary school teacher – and I am explaining
elementary because sometimes middle school will include elementary
grades or grades that use the elementary curriculum. An elementary
school teacher who is new to the profession must have a bachelor’s
degree, full state certification, and demonstrate competence by
passing a rigorous state test of subject knowledge in the elementary
curriculum. Teachers at the middle and high school levels who are
new to the profession must have a bachelor’s degree and full
state certification and then must demonstrate competency by passing
a rigorous test in the subject they teach or hold an academic major
or have the coursework equivalent or finally an advanced degree
or advanced certification in that subject area. And again, I urge
you to go to my PowerPoint to see this for yourself.
Finally, our next requirements for teachers who are not new to
the profession, current teachers who are not new to the profession
and have been teaching since before the start of the 02-03 school
year must have the same requirements, the bachelor’s degree
and full state certification. But when it comes to demonstrating
competency, they have all the options as a new teacher plus something
that Congress read into the law called the High Objective Uniform
State Standard of Evaluation and bureaucrats call this the HOUSSE.
The HOUSSE is a way, basically, for veteran teachers, those who
have been in the profession, to use their knowledge and experience
and coursework and professional development opportunities garnered
over the time that they have been in the profession to show and
demonstrate their subject matter competency. And the law sets criteria
for a state to consider when they are creating their HOUSSE system.
The HOUSSE has basically six requirements and can consist of a lot
of multiple measures. It can look like a rubric, it can look like,
you know, steps A, B, C, or D. It can look a lot of different ways,
but basically it has to reflect the six criteria.
- It has to be set by the state for great, appropriate, academic
subject matter knowledge and teaching skills.
- It should be aligned with the challenging state academic content
and achievement standards and developed in consultation with core
content specialists, teachers, principals, and administrators.
- It should provide objective – and that’s a very
key word here – coherent information about the teacher’s
attainment of core content knowledge in the academic subjects
- It should be applied uniformly to all teachers in the same academic
subject and at the same grade level throughout the state. In other
words, Brown Elementary cannot have a different HOUSSE standard
than Blue Elementary.
- It takes into consideration but is not based primarily on the
time the teacher has been teaching in the academic subject.
- And finally, it’s made available to the public upon request.
So those are the HOUSSE criteria and that is written in the law
(and is in my PowerPoint) and I will give you some resources at
the end of this presentation so that you can go and review, if some
of this has been run through too fast. It’s interesting to
note that many states have adopted the HOUSSE option, but some states
have not quite made it there yet. And so we as a Department are
really encouraging states, especially for multi-subject teachers
and for teachers who have been in the profession for a long time
and may have been asked to teach subjects for which they do not
have an academic nature or did not take a praxis or another test.
We are encouraging states to develop a HOUSSE that objectively measures
their subject matter knowledge and gives credit honestly for the
professional development opportunities and the training that they
have had throughout the profession as they have often volunteered
to take on new subjects or new responsibilities.
Another HOUSSE-keeping note: the HOUSSE in NCLB allows
veteran teachers to teach core academic subjects. They have a variety
of ways to show that they have demonstrated that they know their
subject and states may choose to provide a few ways or a variety
of ways or one way and that’s really a state decision, but
the law allows the flexibility for the state to decide how to do
that themselves. And just to review in terms of all the highly qualified
provisions, NCLB requires states to ensure that all the
teachers that are teaching core academic subjects – including
special education teachers – meet the same high standards
and that’s a tough issue because for the first time really
we are making sure that not only does the teacher have the teaching
skills necessary to teach students with disabilities or to teach
diverse learners, but also that those teachers must also have the
content knowledge to deliver the instruction to those students in
the content area.
And some other information that I think is interesting, we would
like to look at data and surveys and how teachers are feeling, and
one of the Department surveys that I thought was interesting that
was done a couple of years ago found that fewer than 36% of current
teachers feel very well prepared to implement curriculum. Only 36%,
and less than 20% feel prepared to meet the needs of a diverse student
population or those with Limited English Proficiency and you could
probably say that about general ed teachers that have students with
disabilities in their classes too. There is a real fear and a real
frustration in really knowing how to reach those students and that’s
where it’s important on the state and local and federal level
that we look at ways to provide that kind of professional development
support for those teachers. There has been some guidance that has
been offered in addition to what the law says about highly qualified
that I think is helpful for folks to look over. In general, the
question I have taken from some excerpts in my PowerPoint presentations
from Title II, Part A non-regulatory guidance which is the part
of the law, the chapter that deals with improving teacher quality.
The Department issues non-regulatory guidance on helping interpret
and provide more information than what the law says in Title II
and that guidance often deals with teacher issues, how they handle
highly qualified and Title II grants and things like that.
One is the question, do the highly qualified teacher provisions
apply to special education teachers and again, the answer is yes,
if the teacher who teaches students with disabilities teaches the
core academic subject, she must be highly qualified in that subject.
However, if special education teachers do not directly instruct
students in a core academic subject, they don’t need to be
highly qualified in that. That kind of opens the whole umbrella
to how do you determine whether the special education teacher is
directly instructing or is not directly instructing. And if they
are directly instructing students, they need to be highly qualified
in the subject that they are teaching. But if they do not, what
roles are they able to play as teachers of the students in order
to not have to be highly qualified. So, there is another question
in the guidance after that first question that deals with that issue.
What activities may special education teachers carry out if they
are not highly qualified in the core academic content areas being
taught? The question, I am going to just read part of it. It basically
says, there are activities that special education teachers can carry
out that do not require them to be highly qualified in the particular
- Consultation on the adaptation of curricula,
- Consultation with teachers on using behavioral supports and
interventions or selecting appropriate accommodations,
- Assisting students with study and organizational skills, and
- Reinforcing instruction that was given previously by a teacher
who was highly qualified.
Now, obviously special education teachers do so many different
things. They are so involved in the life of their students. But
when it comes to teaching those core academic subjects, that curriculum,
it needs to be taught by somebody who knows that well and that is
where you draw the line, the direct instructor must be a teacher
who is responsible for teaching that curriculum to that student.
They need to meet the highly qualified provision of the state and
that’s the law.
In general, a couple of ways that I believe that we have seen that
NCLB can really be a catalyst for change is in general
collaboration, general educators and special educators working together
to reach all children – sharing ideas, sharing strategies,
sharing content knowledge and knowledge of disabilities and that
kind of collaboration is really critical, especially if you have
a highly qualified teacher who might not have a background around
special ed and you have a special education teacher who might not
have a background in the subject area. It’s really important
for that collaboration to occur. No Child Left Behind has
really taken a stand on accountability, disaggregating data and
looking at a specific group of students and their achievement and
helping schools and districts target resources to help those students
achieve if their scores or their achievement levels happen to be
far below another student group’s achievement levels. And
especially with students with disabilities who tend to perform lower
in a lot of areas, we want to make sure that those students are
given what they need and are taught by teachers who can really move
them forward regardless of their disabilities. And finally, decisionmaking
and using funds in showing that resources are available to train
all teachers to meet the need for diverse learners and we have seen
around the country that not only do we need to look at how special
education teachers can get the support they need and hopefully be
able to have some professional development if they are lacking in
knowledge of the content areas that they are teaching. They also
need to focus on the general ed teachers and teaching the general
ed teachers about students with disabilities and how to meet their
needs through inclusion models or other models. That’s really
critical. So it’s not just about what do special education
teachers need to do more of. It’s also about how can we have
the general educators who are teaching the core subjects help the
special education teachers learn from them and have a collaborative
relationship. So ensuring that teachers are involved in that process
of decisionmaking and spending professional development funds and
what types of professional development are available and these kinds
of things, that’s very critical.
A few other things: in terms of middle school teachers, it’s
important to know that secondary teachers have to have specific
subject knowledge and elementary teachers have to have knowledge
of the general elementary curriculum. Middle school teachers, it’s
really on a class-by-class basis. In other words, the school and
the district need to make the decisions about, for example, the
6th grade science classes, that’s taught by a subject specialist
or a content specialist or an elementary generalist. The 8th grade
biology class, I would probably argue that that’s taught by
a content specialist and not an elementary generalist. I urge you
to go to the Title II guidance or the teacher toolkit for some of
the questions and answers on middle level teachers.
Distribution for children with disabilities is basically 80% of
students with disabilities have specific learning disabilities or
physical health impairments and then 10% have significant cognitive
disabilities. So when we look at the significant cognitive, the
teacher to teach those students and not teach the grade level curriculum,
we’re talking about 10% of those students. But it is important
to note that Congress is looking, through IDEA reauthorization,
at the highly qualified requirements for teachers, the students
with the most significant cognitive disabilities and there may be
some flexibility there when Congress is finished reviewing IDEA.
But for those other 80% of students with disabilities, the stress
is to really have those students be working towards non-grade level.
And my PowerPoint has some ideas and some things that around the
nation we are seeing states and districts do to help special education
teachers gain content knowledge and also help general ed teachers
with some things.
And then finally I wanted to give you a couple of resources, No
Child Left Behind, the toolkit for teachers is, I think, a
great overview of the law and what it means for teachers and you
can go onto the ed.gov website and download that or order it. And
then Title II Guidance is another thing that’s also on the
ed.gov website. And I will stop there and if there is anything else
I didn’t cover, I am happy to answer questions at the end.
DR. JONES: Thank you, Gretchen. We are now going
to move to Janice Poda, the Director of Division of Teacher Quality
at South Carolina Department of Education and Susan Durant, the
State Director at the Office of Exceptional Children, South Carolina
Department of Education.
DR. PODA: Thank you. This is Janice Poda and I
appreciate the opportunity to speak with you this afternoon. I’m
going to talk from the state perspective and Susan is going to join
in with me. Very fortunately, we have been able to work together
to come out with our state’s definition of a highly qualified
special education teacher. And I guess the way that we have tried
to look at it is that even though this is one of the most challenging
aspects of the No Child Left Behind legislation, it also
gives us an opportunity to make some changes in special education
and to focus on all teachers and what they need to know in order
to work with students with disabilities and as Bonnie told you earlier,
I have a background in teaching high school special ed and so this
is really near and dear to my heart.
So what we looked at when we were trying to determine how to define
this in South Carolina is, first of all we had a meeting with Teacher
Assistance Corps. They sent a team of people, and Gretchen happened
to be one of those members from the U.S. Department of Education
that came to South Carolina. And after our discussions with them
and discussing what they had seen around the country, we decided
to look at the role of the special education teacher and to determine
what that person had to do in order to be highly qualified. And
if you are following along on our PowerPoint presentation, you’ll
see we broke it down basically into resource and itinerant teachers
and then self-contained teachers and the different roles that those
And I think what we have found to be the most challenging would
be those self-contained teachers who are teaching students that
may have high cognitive ability but need a special placement like
DH are emotionally stable student. And that one, I think, is still
one that we are completely satisfied that we have come up with a
great definition for. But we had made some decisions. We have looked
at the role of the resource teacher in particular and if they are
not providing initial or primary instruction and if they are not
the person who assigns the grade in the core academic subject and
they are not the teacher of record for that particular content subject,
then we are not requiring that that teacher would be highly qualified.
They will have to meet our full state certification and not have
any waivers. And frankly, just eliminating the waivers is going
to be a huge challenge for us because like most other states, one
of our greatest shortages is in special education. Of all the out-of-field
permits that our state issues, about 65% of them are in special
education. So, just eliminating those is going to be a huge challenge
for us in addition to trying to find teachers that are highly qualified.
So we looked at the resource and itinerant teachers first and then
we looked at the self-contained teachers. And for self-contained,
we are requiring those teachers to have passed the praxis exam in
elementary education in order to be considered highly qualified.
And we believe that that’s one way that they can achieve,
that we also have a HOUSSE plan that Gretchen referred to earlier
in place that allows a team of people who have been trained at the
state level for – our teacher evaluation system, we have a
statewide teacher evaluation system that’s based on the in-task
core principles and that evaluation system looks at the teacher
actually performing in the classroom and teaching specifically the
content area in which they want to be considered highly qualified.
If they are found not to be qualified through that system then they
will have to go back and choose one of the other options which will
either be the exam or coursework, you know, it can’t go through
HOUSSE on two occasions.
Also something that made our development of a HOUSSE plan a little
more challenging is that, we have had for many, many years a requirement
for re-certification for teachers that relies on professional development
in graduate coursework. And that re-certification system has undergone
change in the last couple of years and we now require that the teacher
become re-certified based on the professional growth and development
plan. So in other words, whatever they submit to us for re-certification
has to be based on a need that has been identified by their evaluation
team. So, we feel like we will find the teachers who are struggling
to teach students with disabilities more likely to have their re-certification
come through that area. And we are very hopeful that we are going
to see even greater results in that area.
We still think that we need to resolve the issues of the self-contained
teacher at the high school level that is teaching students who are
taking courses to meet graduation requirements and how we will be
able to address that. (Except that student can also meet the Adequate
Yearly Progress requirements.) Also, we need to look at professional
development and accountability for all teachers who teach students
with disabilities and not just special education teachers. And then
we need to look at professional development to help teachers understand
the role of working as the member of the team and not just in their
own classroom, but a team of the special ed teacher with the general
ed teacher and perhaps even a paraprofessional. So I think those
are still things that we need to work on in our state. And we will
be reviewing our standards for new teachers to try to ensure that
all teachers do have competencies in working with students with
disabilities. And we will continue to emphasize preparing candidates
in all subject areas to teach students with disabilities through
a state standard that we have and then we review that when we revisit
our teacher education programs through the NCATE process. But Susan
may be able to speak more specifically about some of the challenges
that we have and then the opportunities that we are trying to take
into consideration as we move forward.
MS. DURANT: Yes, Janice, I thought I would talk
just a little bit about the practical strategies and approaches
that we are implementing in order to help us move from where we
are to where we need to be. And first I want to just reiterate how
critical it was for us to work together to tackle this problem,
because when we first started looking at what does highly qualified
mean under NCLB for special education teachers, we began
to think that no one, regardless of their training and background
and experience, would meet those standards. But as we moved forward
and held hands and got guidance, we think we have come up with a
pretty practical approach to this.
One of the issues for South Carolina with regard to highly qualified
at the high school level interfaces with the fact that we are a
high stakes state – we have one standard diploma and everyone
who graduates with a diploma in our state must meet the standards
for that diploma. And so, for our high school students who are receiving
core content instruction, then it needs to either come from the
core content trained teacher, or the self-contained teacher if those
children are in a self-contained program, has to also be highly
qualified in the core content. When you are looking at one of the
issues that Gretchen was discussing and that is 80% plus students
with disabilities are intellectually intact which means with appropriate
accommodations and modifications, they should be able to access
the core content, then that becomes a real challenge for us in our
state when so many of our children currently are served in a more
restrictive environment. It’s okay for students to be self-contained
at the high school level, perhaps, if they are not a candidate for
the standard diploma and with special education certification that
elementary praxis, most of our teachers would be able to provide
the appropriate content to move those students through their IEP
process. Some of our districts do have what we call an occupational
diploma, but it’s not recognized statewide. So it’s
very high stakes for a high school student and to get that 80% moving
to graduation is a big challenge for us.
Another issue for us in terms of just practical application is,
how do we assist our teachers in moving from where they are to where
they need to be, and in our state, Janice mentioned the 65% of our
teachers who are on out-of-field permit are special education teachers.
With this coming school year, that’s 460 of our teachers and
then in our state by January 2006 no one will be issued an out-of-field
permit. So we have developed, in collaboration with four of our
institutions of higher education, something that we call Project
Create which is a way for us to help those teachers move from where
they are with their out-of-field permit to highly qualified by that
date and we are using a combination of funds and resources to provide
the coursework, to provide that in that cost to teachers to provide
textbooks for them, to get districts to sign onto paper their practices
and to get teachers to agree once they have moved to highly qualified
to at least work in those districts for a period of three years
to help us deal with our shortage. In getting those people on out-of-field,
we feel like that has been a real practical strategy and it’s
something that’s really assisting us in getting those teachers
where they need to be.
For self-contained teachers at the elementary level, we are doing
some practice sessions for those people who have to take a new test
and haven’t done that in awhile.
The other issue, I think Gretchen mentioned in her PowerPoint,
that we have about 36% of our teachers who don’t feel like
they are fully prepared and we are doing a tremendous amount of
technical assistance in training for general ed and special education
teachers in terms of strategies that will assist them in meeting
the needs of diverse learners in their classrooms, looking at those
same issues of collaboration and accountability and decisionmaking
and we are focusing some of our IDEA professional development funding
toward the accomplishment of that.
So it’s an uphill battle for us, I guess, as it is in all
states. We talked about all rural schools and maybe some sort of
flexibility there as we have looked at that, even though we have
a lot of small rural districts in our state, we don’t think
that any of them meet that criteria. So, we are moving fast forward
trying to get to where we need to be to ensure that all of our children
do indeed have access to highly qualified teachers. And we will
entertain questions related to that, but those are just some practical
kinds of approaches that we are using in order to move us where
we need to be.
One more thing: as Janice said, our big concern in terms of looking
at balanced accountability for all students is not only making sure
that our special education teachers meet the highly qualified standards,
but also that our general ed teachers have the tools in order to
meet the needs of the students as we move more and more into the
general ed classroom.
DR. JONES:Thank you, Janice and Susan. I am going
to turn now to Jean Miller. So if you have a question, please announce
your name to Jean and the state you are calling from before asking
a question. Jean.
MS. MILLER: Okay. Are there any questions out
MS. LOOSE: This is Fran Loose calling from Michigan.
I have a question about teachers in the high school or middle school,
looking at students with significant cognitive impairment, am I
hearing correctly that in South Carolina, you are saying that they
are exempt from the highly qualified requirement? By virtue of saying
that the elementary praxis, does that mean nothing else need apply?
DR. PODA:We require them to have full certification,
so they have to have demonstrated that they have competence in –
by passing the praxis exam for severe disabilities as well as the
elementary praxis exam.
MS. LOOSE: In content?
MS. LOOSE: Okay. So the answer is that they have
to have the content demonstrated at the elementary level, and they
also have to pass the test for severe – at the high school
level. That’s right?
MS. MILLER:Does that answer your question?
MS. LOOSE: Yeah. And then the other part is for
the 80% plus working toward a regular diploma, you are working on
a strategy for all of those teachers to meet secondary content expertise,
if they are providing the direct instruction?
DR. PODA:If they are providing the direct instruction,
they would also have to pass the elementary praxis or – we
have also had some discussions about if it’s for a graduation
requirement that they would have to meet some other requirement
that we had not defined yet. It could be the full praxis exam, it
may be professional development in that area, but we have not determined
that. Those are rare cases for us where the person is all in a self-contained
classroom and getting the high school diploma, as Susan explained.
UNKNOWN: Can I add something to that?
DR. PODA: Yeah, sure.
UNKNOWN: I think the biggest challenge is you
have students who are now required to take the grade level assessments.It
is truly important that you make sure you have teachers who can
teach to the standards required on the grade level assessments.
And I think that’s where a lot of teachers are trying to figure
out how to...
MS. SLEASE: That’s all I was just saying
that that’s just a really – I know that and I said that
their models already involved, I think, a lot of inclusion and models
that really didn’t have students in self-contained classrooms.
But just looking at collaboration models and models where you have
general ed teachers teaching content alongside special education
teachers, just in terms of looking at models where you can involve
grade level teachers who know the content along with special education
teachers since those students are going to be required to take the
grade level assessment with accommodations.
UNKNOWN: I think that’s going to be one
of the biggest challenges that every state has and certainly the
higher education and local schools districts have, because it’s
really teaching how to team teach and take advantage of everybody’s
skills appropriately. It’s going to be a big challenge. And,
I think, it’s one of the opportunities, if we take advantage
of it, to really revamp the delivery system – education of
students. But it is going to be a challenge to figure out all the
logistics and to not do it just for the name only, but to really
have collaboration between our general education teachers and our
special education teachers.
MS. DOUGLAS: My name is Sue Douglas, I am with
the CF committee in state of Arizona. This is exactly the area that
I’m concerned about and I think that most educators are concerned
about today. And I don’t see in No Child Left Behind
the wiggle room that I hear you talking about in terms of high school
level self-contained children, we have to presume that the majority
of them are moving towards graduation, a high stakes task. Where
are we finding the wiggle room in NCLB? I am not reading
it. I am not finding it. By wiggle room what I am talking about
is that we are saying it’s all right to call a teacher highly
qualified if they are only qualified on an elementary level, however
they’re supposedly teaching students who will be taking a
high stakes graduation test in one of those core subjects.
MS. DURANT: This is Susan Durant. That’s
not what we are saying in South Carolina. If a student is headed
toward a high school diploma, then our requirement is that the student
be taught in the core content areas by a core content highly qualified
teacher that’s maybe a general ed teacher or that may be the
self-contained teacher. What we are saying is for our students with
more severe cognitive disabilities who are not headed toward a high
school diploma, then we are accepting the combination of the elementary
praxis and the special education certification. So I don’t
think we are saying anything different than what I just heard you
state nor do I think that we see that flexibility for the awarding
of the -- unit.
UNKNOWN: I understand, I think, the big question
that we are having, at least I have is, what are we doing with the
child that does not have the severe cognitive disability who requires
that placement, that more restricted placement such as an [emotionally
disturbed] child, are there any options other than a teacher being
certified on high school certification in every core subject?
UNKNOWN: I think the only answer to that right
now is that they are going to have to team teach.
UNKNOWN: Yeah, we are still struggling with that
here. We don’t have that answer.
UNKNOWN: And we are not talking about re-certification
on every subject, we are talking about a demonstration of subject
matter knowledge and there are multiple ways to do that. That’s
where I see the flexibility. Not that I am saying, it makes sense
for one teacher to have to take 10 tests, but I think that there
can be kind of a meeting in the middle and it’s possible that
teachers who are in self-contained classrooms with kids with disabilities
need to be those who bridge the gap between where the students are
and where we want them to be on grade level standards and have some
specific subject matter knowledge in a few subjects and then look
at some collaborative activities or some team teaching for the other
UNKNOWN: I would like to add that one of the other
challenges, I think, that we really haven’t addressed and
perhaps Congress will have to take another look at this, but the
law provides lots of flexibility for the alternative certification
route and lots of flexibility for international teachers, but there
are no degrees of being highly qualified, you either are or you
aren’t according to the way the law was written. I think that’s
really going to have a huge impact on our special education teaching
population because there will be teachers who are in the process
of becoming highly qualified and who have the knowledge and the
skill in the area of disability but perhaps not the subject area,
but it may be more financially feasible for a school to go out and
hire a substitute teacher than it will be for us to have a special
education teacher who is not highly qualified in every subject area
and I think that really is a concern – that as a country we
have to address that issue.
Ms. King-Sears: This is Peggy King-Sears from
Maryland and I wanted to comment and provide feedback on, I guess,
two levels here. One is in terms of initial teacher preparation
and the notion of core academic subject expertise for beginning
educators and specifically for special educators, there is already
a lot to teach for beginning educators for them to get their certification
and I am concerned that there are incentives for general ed and
special ed teachers to acquire highly qualified in whatever core
academic subjects they are teaching. But I am fearful that the focus
of current special ed teaching preparation programs is going to
be watered down to get a core academic subject expertise in there
and that the incentive for folks to go back for deeper knowledge
and skills after they have been a beginning special educator is
going to be minimized or lost.
UNKNOWN: I think you raise a very legitimate question.
But I say to you this, we are not just looking at how we work with
the special ed teachers but also how we work with the general ed
teachers and prepare to teach which means that the preparation program
is going to have to be totally revisited on both sides of the point,
so to speak, about how much is enough and how much is not enough,
both for the general ed to know enough about teaching the special
ed population and for special ed to be able to absorb some of the
talents for core subject areas. And that’s not to say we have
got the answer to it, but I think the answer is it’s going
to have to be a major revisiting of a preparation program.
UNKNOWN: Well. I mean, I think that actually highly
qualified went along with core academic subjects plus pedagogy,
that they are getting closer to what you were saying.
UNKNOWN: That’s right.
UNKNOWN: The other comment I have is in terms
of special educational teachers whether they are co-teaching or
self-contained at whatever level is that they can be somewhat of
a moving target and that one year or several years, they maybe teaching
three or four core academic subjects and that’s not what they
are teaching the reminder of their career -- nor are those the areas
in which they are highly qualified, necessarily, the subject that
they’re placed in to teach.
UNKNOWN: You are beginning to describe a bit of
the complexity of the problem and reform because it’s not
just individual teacher quality, but it’s also how the system
reacts, schedules tasks, etc.
UNKNOWN: And I think the important focus is to
really look at what is best for that student. What does that student
need from year to year and are we serving them well if we provide
somebody who can instruct them and knows a lot about their disability
but might not have the knowledge of the content that they are assessed
on at the end of the year. Or should we look at other models that
really get at both of those. A general ed teacher and a special
ed teacher working together or a special ed teacher that focuses
on a subject like math or really knows her reading. I think it really
involves looking at different models and you had mentioned the (IAT’s)
before the higher education institutions that are playing around
with the idea of having a content major and a special education
major kinds of things. Kansas, when we went there on our teacher
assistance core visit, I did not go, but the team that went was
really interested in what the higher education institutions in Kansas
were doing in terms of requiring a content major, but not sacrificing
the important pedagogy classes first, dealing with students with
disabilities and teaching them well. So that might be something
to look at. We were really excited to go around the country and
be able to get a lot of different ideas. And in my PowerPoint at
the end, there are some Web sites that have a lot of those ideas
catalogued on this.
UNKNOWN: In fact there are 10 states now that
require dual certification at elementary level and special ed, if
you are going to be a special ed teacher, you also have to have
an elementary certification. So the hole is how do we deal with
middle school and high school?
DR. JONES: Okay. I would like to thank Gretchen,
Janice, and Susan for sharing their time and expertise with us,
and Jean Miller for her expertise in moderating your questions.
In closing, if you are interested in learning more about the Center
for Teacher Quality, there is a link on www.ncset.org. If you are
interested in learning more about transition, secondary education
issues, and helping youth graduate and achieve successful postschool
outcomes, we invite you to join OSEP’s
Exiting Community of Practice, http://www.tacommunities.org/.
Anyone who is interested in that issue is welcome to join. The next
NCSET Exiting Community Teleconference is scheduled for Tuesday,
July 27 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Loujeania Bost of the National
Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities will be
our featured presenter. Thank you and looking forward to hearing
from you on July 27.
END OF TELECONFERENCE
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