TEA announced Feb. 11, 2014, 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 NCLB highly qualified teacher status, effective immediately.

TEA requested this change in response to school district feedback that said Texas’ designation of sixth grade as an elementary assignment was problematic for teachers and administrators given the arrangement of teaching assignments in many of the state’s sixth-grade classes.

One problem was that sixth-grade teachers holding a subject-specific certificate were required to also obtain a generalist certificate. With this change, that is no longer the case.

However, sixth-grade teachers will have to meet the highly qualified requirements for secondary teachers, which includes more options for demonstrating competency in the core academic subject area assigned.

TEA will work during spring 2014 to update determination forms, guidelines and reporting protocol for full implementation of this change for the 2014-15 school year. Districts may immediately consider sixth-grade teachers as secondary teachers, however, when determining their highly qualified status. 

Note: According to TEA, this change will not affect teachers who are Highly Qualified for sixth grade by using grades 1-8 exams. Those discontinued exams will still be acceptable for sixth grade but not seventh or eighth grade, as in current guidelines.