Early in 2010, the U.S. Department of Education issued a final "reinterpretation" of highly qualified provisions that required new elementary teachers (defined at that time in Texas as EC-6*) new to the profession when hired for the 2009-10 school year holding subject-specific certification or EC-12 special education certification to take and pass an additional generalist certification exam in order to be highly qualified. 

Affected teachers include those holding certification in 4-8 math, 4-8 science, 4-8 social studies, 4-8 math/science, 4-8 ELA/reading, 4-8 ELA/reading/social studies and EC-12 special education. According to the TEA, passing the TExES EC-4, EC-6, or 4-8 generalist; TExES EC-4, EC-6, or 4-8 bilingual generalist; or TExES EC-4, EC-6, or 4-8 ESL generalist will meet the requirement.

This new final requirement was pared back somewhat from the initial requirement after TCTA strongly protested, sending letters (see USDE letter below) to USDE and the Texas Congressional delegation.  Accordingly, all-level arts, music and theater teachers are no longer included among those teachers affected by the reinterpretation.  Additionally, the USDE agreed to grandfather new elementary teachers hired prior to the 2009-10 school year who had already been determined to be highly qualified under the former interpretation, as long as the teacher remains in the same teaching assignment. 

For this purpose, “same teaching assignment” is defined as the same subject area at the elementary level, i.e., elementary math or elementary reading/language arts.  Changing from one grade level in the subject area to another grade level in the same subject area is not changing teaching assignment for this purpose, i.e., fourth grade math to second grade math.  Also, a district must have a development plan on file at the local level for these teachers and ensure that none are teaching or being paid with Title I funds.

In a new development, the USDE is now requiring school districts to complete the Elementary HOUSE documentation for these teachers.  According to a TEA letter sent to school districts on April 6, 2010, the HOUSE option is available for documenting highly qualified teacher status since these teachers are now experienced teachers. 

Documenting Elementary HOUSE for these teachers will be very beneficial to the affected teachers because once the documentation is completed, they will no longer be restricted to the same assignment in order to continue being highly qualified.  Rather, the HOUSE documentation will demonstrate highly qualified teacher status for any elementary assignment, thereby giving local districts more flexibility in teacher assignments.

This documentation process must be completed by June 1, 2010, and any applicable changes amended on the campus’ Highly Qualified Teacher Compliance Report.

*On Feb. 19, 2014, TEA announced that it had requested and received from the U.S. Dept. of Education permission to change sixth grade from an elementary to a secondary grade level designation for purposes of determining the NCLB highly qualified teacher status, effective immediately.

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