What does “highly qualified” mean for general education teachers?

Dec 5, 2008 12:36 PM

The following information was issued by the Department of Education, Division of Human Resources.

What does “highly qualified” (HQ) mean?

Under NCLB, general education teachers of core academic subjects are HQ if they satisfy the following requirements:

hold at least a bachelor's degree from a four-year institution; AND

are certified (NYC Board of Examiners licenses included) and assigned to their certification area; OR

if not certified in the core subject assignment area they teach, demonstrate subject matter competency in the core subject they teach using one of the ways permitted by the NCLB. (See section on

HQ flexibility below for when teachers are permitted to teach outside of their certification area.)

Teachers are certified for a teaching assignment if they hold one of the following:

A valid New York State certificate for the assignment; OR

A NYC Board of Examiners license that is valid for the assignment. This is a license that NYC issued prior to 1990 and before NY State certification was mandatory. This license is equal to NY State certification.

Do the HQ requirements apply to all teachers?

The HQ requirements apply to public school teachers (not including day-to-day substitutes) who are teachers of record in the core academic subject areas of:

English, reading, language arts
Social Studies (history, geography, economics, civics and government)
Foreign Languages
The arts: art, dance, music, theater (including public speaking), drama

Federal and state laws require all classes in core academic subjects to be assigned to teachers in their area(s) of certification unless they qualify for certification flexibility.

What flexibility exists regarding certification and HQ?

Incidental Teaching: New York State permits certified teachers to be assigned outside of their certification area for no more than 1 period per day. With this certification flexibility, teachers must demonstrate subject matter competency* in their out-of-field core subject assignment to be HQ.

Middle School Experiment in Organizational Change: Teachers with certificates in common branch subjects can teach them (Math, Science, English, Social Studies) at the 7th and 8th grade level for up to 5 years without obtaining additional certification for the assignments. Teachers using this flexibility must demonstrate subject matter competency* in each core subject taught to be HQ.

*What are some ways in which teachers can demonstrate subject matter competency for assignments?
Holding a NYS teaching certificate in the core academic subject(s); OR
If beyond the first year of certification or teaching, using the HOUSSE (High Objective Uniform State Standard of Evaluation) in the core academic subject they are teaching; OR
Holding an undergraduate major or graduate degree or their equivalents in the core academic subject; OR
Having passed a Content Specialty Test (CST) in the subject or a NYC Board of Examiners test in the subject.

How can principals help their teachers become Highly Qualified?
Review BEDS Reports: The BEDS Survey reports contain teacher certification information and will help principals determine if teachers are assigned to their certification area(s) according to HQ requirements.

Consider the Conversion Program: The Conversion program helps teachers certified in a non-shortage area subject obtain certification in a shortage area subject. For more information, contact nycconversion@nycboe.net.

Encourage teachers to take the HOUSSE: As a reminder, general education teachers beyond their first year of certification or teaching can only take the HOUSSE if they are incidental teaching or are part of the middle school experiment in organizational change.

General Information