Illinois State Board of Education

News

For Immediate Release
September 19, 2002
For Information:
217/782-4648

“State Board approves "highly qualified” teacher definition

All Illinois teachers – some sooner than most – will have to meet the definition of a highly qualified teacher approved by the State Board of Education today. The Board acted on the definition, one of its responsibilities in implementing the new federal No Child Left Behind Act, during its Thursday morning session.

Teachers newly hired this school year to work in programs supported by federal Title I funds must meet the definition immediately, while all other existing public school teachers in any of the core curriculum areas have until the end of 2005-2006 school year to comply. The core areas are English/language arts, mathematics, science, civics, government, economics, history, geography, foreign language and fine arts,

Generally, an Illinois teacher is “highly qualified” if the individual meets all the certification criteria for early childhood, elementary or secondary or special (or special pre-K through age 21) certificate; and holds the certificate(s), and is teaching in the corresponding subject(s) and grade level(s). Under NCLB, states must establish specific qualifications that are consistent with the federal definition. The more detailed aspects of Illinois’ definition are attached to this release.

Teachers who hold alternative certificates or resident teacher certificates are highly qualified because they have passed the required teacher examinations. Individuals teaching on approvals, PZZs, or short-term emergency certificates also meet the definition if they hold a certificate for the grade-level taught. However, they would not be highly qualified if their short-term emergency certificate is based on holding a transitional bilingual certificate.

There are three notable exceptions to the highly qualified definition – it does not apply to individuals who hold a Type 29 transitional bilingual education certificate; a type 39 substitute teacher certificate; or a provisional Illinois certificate for teachers who are licensed in another state and want to teach in Illinois.

To address the Type 29 issue, ISBE will seek legislation to

  • make the Type 29 valid for four years with a possible two-year extension;
  • require persons seeking the certificate to pass the language proficiency and basic skills test;
  • require that, after two years, the individuals must be enrolled in and making progress toward full certification in an approved teacher education program;
  • require the individuals, at the end of four years, to pass the content area test and the new Assessment of Professional Teaching which goes into effect in 2003;
  • allow individuals who fail those tests to continue teaching for an additional two years as long as they are making progress in an approved program.

Individuals who hold the Type 39 Substitute certificate could only be highly qualified if they also hold a valid early childhood, elementary, secondary or special certificate and are teaching in the appropriate grade level(s) and subject matter(s).

To become highly qualified, individuals who are licensed in another state and hold a provisional Illinois certificate must follow current procedures – do whatever necessary to meet the requirements for a comparable Illinois certificate and pass any applicable teaching exams.

Parent Notification. NCLB’s push toward ensuring all students have highly qualified teachers includes new notification requirements for school districts.

Parents must be notified in a “timely” manner when their child has been taught for four or more consecutive weeks by one or more teachers who are not “highly qualified.”

In addition, school districts that receive Title I funds must annually notify parents that they can request information about the professional qualifications of their child’s classroom teacher. Parent notices must include information about whether the teacher has met state licensing criteria, is teaching under an emergency or provisional certificate, the teacher’s college major and bachelor’s degree, any other graduate certification or degree, and the subject area of the certification or degree. Parents must also be told if their child is served by a paraprofessional and, if so, that individuals qualifications.

###

The specific requirements in the approved definition are outlined below.

Illinois State Board of Education

Illinois Certification Requirements Related to NCLB
Definition of Highly Qualified Teacher
Adopted September 19, 2002

After the first day of the 2002-2003 school year, all newly hired teachers in programs supported with Title I funds must be “highly qualified” according to the definition set forth in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). By the end of the 2005-2006 school year, all teachers in core academic subjects must be “highly qualified” in areas of teaching assignment. Core academic subjects are: English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history and geography.

Under the NCLB, teachers are considered “highly qualified” if they have a bachelor’s degree, have full State certification and have demonstrated subject matter competence in the areas taught. In providing a definition of “highly qualified” for teachers who already hold current Illinois certificates, ISBE is offering guidance on what is considered full State certification and is setting the “high objective uniform State standard of evaluation” necessary to determine competency in the subject mater taught as required by the federal law.

The following general guideline is provided to assist local school districts in determining whether current teachers in Illinois meet the federal definition of “highly qualified” teacher.

Teachers who meet the state criteria for certification in early childhood, elementary or secondary education or in areas requiring a special (or special pre-K through age 21) certificate, and are providing instruction in the grade level and subject area for which they are certified meet the definition of “highly qualified.”

Application to those teachers who hold current Illinois teaching certificates (early childhood, elementary, secondary, special K-12 and special pre-K through age 21):

  1. Each early childhood, elementary, middle level and secondary teacher who teaches a core academic subject shall hold a valid certificate for the grade level(s) and subject matter to be taught.
  2. Each elementary teacher shall have formal training through university coursework in each basic instructional area to be taught.
  3. Each middle grade level teacher certified on or after July 1, 1997, who teaches in a departmentalized setting must have 18 semester hours in the major subject s/he is assigned to teach and 6 semester hours of specified coursework related to teaching middle grade students. If a middle grade level teacher is assigned to teach in more than one area, additional coursework is required in the second teaching area as identified in Section 1.720 of Title 23 of the Illinois Administrative Code. Each middle grade or junior high level teacher certified before July 1, 1997 must meet the requirements specified in Section 1.720 of Title 23 of the Illinois Administrative Code for the time period applicable the date of certification or endorsement.
  4. Teachers who currently hold an elementary certificate need not have endorsements in each subject taught if the teacher is teaching in a self-contained classroom at the elementary level. Teachers assigned to departmentalized grades 5-8 must meet the requirements for teaching in the middle grades.
  5. Secondary teachers must have the requisite number of semester hours in the subject matter area and specific coursework preparation in any individual subject area that the teacher may be assigned to teach as identified in Section 1.730 of Title 23 of the Illinois Administrative Code. For example, most areas require 24 semester hours, but foreign languages require 20 semester hours and reading requires 18 semester hours. Additional coursework in specific subject matters are required to teach certain areas. For example, a teacher with an endorsement in general science would need to obtain additional coursework in physics or chemistry in order to be highly qualified in either of those areas.
  6. Teachers with endorsements on certificates may teach additional subjects covered by the endorsement. These endorsements require specific coursework depending on the subject matter endorsement as described in Part I of 23 Illinois Administrative Code. Teachers are evaluated with a uniform state standard of transcript review to determine eligibility for endorsements at the time of issuance.
  7. Teachers who do not have endorsements on their certificates may meet the federal requirement by: (a) having an academic major in the subject matter taught, (b) passing a subject matter examination in each academic subject taught, or (c) satisfying the requirements for an endorsement through a transcript review conducted by the school district. School districts must verify that teachers without endorsements or who have not passed the subject matter examination have completed coursework that satisfies the requirements for their teaching assignment.
  8. Teachers with special K-12 certificates have specific subject matter endorsements and may teach only that subject, unless the teacher holds additional certificates. The subject area endorsement requires preparation in the area of specialization with specific course requirements outlined in Section 1.730 of Title 23 of the Illinois Administrative Code.
  9. Teachers with special pre-K through age 21 certificates have specific endorsements for teaching students with disabilities, as listed in Part 28 of ISBE’s administrative rules. Teachers with the LBS I/limited endorsement may be assigned to teach only those students with disabilities for which they held a pre-existing credential until the limitations expire, except that teachers may serve students with one additional disability in a cross-categorical setting. Teachers with the LBS I endorsement may be assigned to teach students with any of the disabilities covered under the LBS I credential.
  10. Since 1988, all teacher candidates must have successfully completed a test of content knowledge related to their subject matter concentration, along with the Basic Skills test.

Application to teachers who are new to the profession: (early childhood, elementary, secondary, special and special pre-K through age 21):

  1. Teachers must hold a bachelor’s degree.
  2. Teachers must obtain an early childhood, elementary, secondary or special certificate with an endorsement for the particular subject matter taught, if applicable.
  3. All teacher candidates seeking Initial Illinois teacher certification must pass the basic skills test. Teachers in early childhood programs must pass the early childhood certification test, elementary teachers must pass the elementary certification test, and secondary and special area teachers must successfully complete a test of content knowledge related to their subject matter concentration.
  4. Beginning October 2003, in addition to successfully completing tests of basic skills and content knowledge, teacher candidates will also need to successfully complete a test of “common-core knowledge” which will assess them on the Illinois Professional Teaching Standards (which include special education standards and pedagogy), and language arts and technology standards. This test will be known as the Assessment of Professional Teaching or APT.

Application to other certificates:

  1. Persons who hold a valid teaching certificate from another state and receive a provisional certificate in Illinois are not considered highly qualified for purposes of the federal law. After persons with a provisional certificate satisfy any deficiencies necessary to meet the requirements for a comparable Illinois certificate and pass any applicable examinations they will be considered highly qualified.
  2. Persons who hold alternative certificates in Illinois are considered highly qualified given that they have passed the required examinations.
  3. Persons who hold resident teacher certificates in Illinois are considered highly qualified given that they have passed the required examinations.
  4. Persons who hold transitional bilingual teaching (Type 29) certificates are not considered to be highly qualified. ISBE will propose a change to the current law as follows: (a) the Type 29 certificate would be valid for four years with a two-year extension; (b) persons seeking a Type 29 would be required to pass the language proficiency test and the basic skills test; (c) after two years’ time, the person must be enrolled and making progress in an approved program leading to full certification; and (d) at the end of four years’ time, the person must take the content area test and the Assessment of Professional Teaching (APT).

    If the person passes the tests and completes the required program, then he or she would be issued an Initial teaching certificate. If the person does not pass the content area test and APT, he or she could apply for a two-year extension on the certificate as long as progress is being made in the approved program.

    Teachers who are currently teaching on a Type 29 certificate must obtain full state certification by the end of the 2005-2006 school year. Teachers whose Type 29 certificates are valid after June 30, 2006 may still retain their certificate but they will not be considered “highly qualified” teachers for purposes of the federal law.

    Teachers who currently hold transitional bilingual teaching (Type 29) certificates may become “highly qualified” for purposes of federal law by passing the basic skills test and the applicable content area test. After October 2003, teachers will also have to pass the APT. Teachers who pass these examinations still have to complete an approved program to qualify for receipt of an Illinois certificate when their Type 29 certificate expires.

  5. Special education teachers who are teaching on approvals, PZZs, or short-term emergency certificates meet the definition of highly qualified as long as they hold a certificate that is valid for the grade level taught. However, teachers who received the short-term emergency certificate based on holding a transitional bilingual certificate do not meet the “highly qualified” definition. Illinois is still seeking guidance on the continued applicability of the federal regulations implementing IDEA that permit a person to teach with less than full certification for three years as long as the district is unable to locate a fully certified teacher.
  6. Persons who hold a substitute teacher’s certificate (Type 39) are not considered highly qualified for purposes of the federal law. Those persons who substitute teach and hold early childhood, elementary, secondary, special or special pre-K through age 21 certificates are considered highly qualified if they provide instruction in the grade level and subject area for which they are certified.

Notice Requirements

  • Schools receiving Title I (Part A) funds must give parents "timely notice" that their children have been assigned or taught, for four or more consecutive weeks, by a teacher who is not "highly qualified." For example, if a person with only a substitute teacher’s certificate teaches a class for longer than four consecutive weeks, the notice must be sent. On the other hand, if the same substitute teacher teaches for three weeks, the regular teacher (who is considered highly qualified) returns for a week, and then the substitute takes over for the next week, the notice is not required. If the substitute teacher has the proper credentials for teaching that classroom and is considered highly qualified, then the notice requirement is not applicable. Please see the following page for a sample notice.
  • School districts that receive Title I funds must also annually inform parents that they may request information regarding the professional qualifications (e.g., certification, endorsements, degree or other information related to teaching credentials) of their children's classroom teachers. This does not include disclosing transcripts or employment evaluations. This notice must include the parent's right to request, at a minimum, information about:
    • whether the teacher has met state qualification and licensing criteria for the grade levels and subject areas taught.
    • whether the teacher is teaching under emergency or other provisional status.
    • the baccalaureate degree major of the teacher and any other graduate certification or degree held by the teacher, and the subject area of the certification or degree.
    • whether the child is provided service by paraprofessionals and, if so, their qualifications.