What is a “highly qualified” teacher? Some say individuals enrolled in alternative teacher certification programs should be called “highly qualified” even before they’ve completed the program. But this provision was not included in the Senate's recently approved 2013 education funding bill.
NAESP, as mentioned in this previous blog post, opposes this expanded definition, and worked with a coalition of over 80 advocacy groups to prevent it from making its way into the bill.
NAESP continues to advocate against it. Under No Child Left Behind, students are supposed to be taught by “highly qualified” teachers that are equally distributed in schools. In 2010, Congress included a provision in a spending bill that expanded the definition of “highly qualified” to include teachers that are not fully prepared and enrolled in an alternative certification program. The new definition was found to violate current No Child Left Behind statute by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which was reconfirmed in a May, 2012 court ruling. Unqualified teachers disproportionately teach students with disabilities or in underperforming schools.