After receiving over 700 comments from approximately 140 parties in regard to proposed regulations for the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige issued final regulations to further clarify federal, state, and local responsibilities under NCLB.
Critics of the final regulations, including state school boards, had asked education officials to build more flexibility into the law, but were denied their request. Instead, education officials stressed across-the-board improvement as a way to preserve the intent of the law. Schools that do not show yearly progress toward their goals face consequences such as paying for transportation to other schools and providing supplemental services such as tutoring.
As for teacher quality, the final regulations included several clarifications on alternative certification routes for teachers. The law requires all core academic teachers to be fully certified through traditional or alternative routes by the end of the 2005-06 school year. Middle or high school teachers must hold a bachelor’s degree and demonstrate competency in their subject area by passing a rigorous state test, or through completion of an academic major, graduate degree, or comparable coursework.
There had been some uncertainty about whether individual teachers who are enrolled in, but have not yet completed, alternative certification routes should be considered “highly qualified.” The final rules specify that these teachers must show satisfactory progress toward earning full certifications while receiving support through the process from mentors, professional development, or intensive supervision.
The rules also require states and districts to detail specific steps to ensure that minority students and students from low-income families are not taught by underqualified teachers at higher rates than other children. States must also report back on their progress.