Highly Qualified Teachers and Parents’ Right-to-Know

Lately I am hearing a lot of complaints from parents about teachers:  turnover, substitutes, teachers who are absent from the classroom, and teachers who fail to meet student needs.  As we start the 2015-2016 school year, it is helpful for parents to know about teacher qualifications and how to get information about your child’s teachers.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (a re-authorization of the Elementary & Secondary Schools Act of 1965) emphasizes the importance of teacher quality in improving educational outcomes.  NCLB requires that

  • Teachers in Title I schools be “highly qualified” and that
  • All teachers teaching core academic subjects be “highly qualified.”

Title I Schools

Title I schools are those schools teaching student pre-K through 5th grade who have certain percentage of students who are at or below the poverty rate.  To determine if your child’s elementary school is a Title I school, look at your school district’s website for the list of Title I schools or ask the school principal.

If your child’s school is a Title I school, you have the right to receive notification from the school informing you of your right to know certain information:

  • The qualifications of your child’s teachers and paraprofessionals, and
  • When your child is being taught by a substitute teacher who is not highly qualified for 4 consecutive weeks

Your child is entitled to have highly qualified teachers teaching his or her core subjects.  Core subjects are English, reading/language arts, math, science, foreign languages, civics/government, economics, arts, history, and geography.  (However, look for that list to expand if the currently debated authorization of the Elementary & Secondary Schools Act is made law.)

You can find information about what the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction considers “highly qualified” on their website at http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/program-monitoring/titleIA/highlyqualified.

Non-Title II Schools

If your child is not attending a Title I school, you are not required to receive notification of your right to know but your child must have highly qualified teachers teaching his or her core subjects and you can request and receive information about teacher qualifications.

Requesting Information about Teacher Qualifications

If you want to learn the qualifications of your child’s teachers and paraprofessionals, you need to write a letter to request this information from the school.

Here is a sample letter borrowed from www.wrightslaw.com.

Here is web link for this article:  http://www2.ed.gov/nclb/methods/teachers/teachers-faq.html