Are You a Highly Qualified Science Teacher?
According to the "No Child Left Behind" education initiative that was passed into law a year ago, there are requirements that will need to be met by all teachers by the end of the year 2005-2006 that will deem them "highly qualified". The best way to understand the information that will be posited here is to go to the following website, http://www.nsta.org/highlyqualified, and look at the flow chart that is available so you can follow along. Basically, it will depend upon where you teach and the state regulations that will be applied to an individual to meet the "highly qualified" status. According to the Educational Testing Service (ETS) website (http://www.ets.org/praxis/prxstate.html) there are currently 38 states in the US that require the Praxis Series of tests for licensure and certification. All the states in our Mid-Atlantic region (MD, VA, PA, DE, NJ, WVA, and NC) currently require the Praxis tests. The focus here will be what does this mean for Maryland high school science teachers that are currently in the system and those that will be new to the system.
The flow chart designed by NEA Teacher Quality Department is divided into three sections; Timelines, Licensure/Certification Section, and Competency in that specific order. Follow the chart until you reach an endpoint of "You are Highly Qualified". A key point in the timeline section is that if you were newly hired after the first day of the 2002-03 school year and work in a school supported with Title I funds you needed to meet the "Highly Qualified" standard. If not, you need to be highly qualified by the end of 2005-06. In the Licensure/Certification Section deals with issues of full certification and passing state licensing tests (the Praxis tests in MD are required) before passing you on to the critical area of Competency. In the Competency section of the flow chart is where the rubber meets the road in terms of the state that you are teaching in or will choose to teach in if you are moving or looking for a science teaching position. If you are looking for a science-teaching job in MD you need to have the appropriate BS degree in your teaching area and qualifying scores on the Praxis licensing tests. The question here is, "How will this continue to impact the critical shortage of highly qualified science teachers that need to be recruited into the profession?" We are sure to find out by the end of 2005-2006.
Another good reference for issues concerning "No Child Left Behind" is the website, http://www.education-world.com/a_issues/issues356.shtml. They have a helpful section entitled, "No Educator Left Behind".