Am I a Highly Qualified (HQ)Teacher?
If you have any further questions regarding Highly Qualified issues after reading through this information feel free to contact your district or charter school’s Human Resources Department or your can contact the Utah State Office of Education (USOE), Teaching and Learning's Licensing Department at (801) 538-7740.
1. What is a Highly Qualified Teacher?
2. How Do I Know if I'm Already a Highly Qualified Teacher?
3. I'm Not Highly Qualified! What Do I Do?
1. What is a Highly Qualified Teacher?
Whether or not you are considered a Highly Qualified teacher under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act can be very confusing. In basic terms, a Highly Qualfied Teacher is one who has demonstrated that he has significant knowledge of the content being taught; being designated as a Highly Qualified Teacher has nothing to do with knowledge of pedagogy or quality of instruction. Highly Qualified status applies only to teachers of core subjects in the following areas: Fine Arts, Foreign Language, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies.
To be considered Highly Qualified you must meet all of the following requirements:
- You Must Hold at Least a Bachelor’s Degree
This degree does not have to be in the subject area, but you must have a Bachelor’s degree in something before you can be designated Highly Qualified for anything.
- You Must Be State Qualified for the Course
This means that you must have a current Utah Educator License with the license areas and/or endorsements necessary to be consider qualified to teach the course in a Utah public school.
- You Must Have Demonstrated That You Have Significant Knowledge of the Content Being Taught
This demonstration is the part of the HQ rules that can change over time. There have been various methods in the past for how veteran teachers could be deemed HQ. Many of these methods are no longer valid; please review the “I’m not Highly Qualified, what do I do?” section on this website for more details. If you were deemed HQ under one of the previous rules, don’t worry. Once you are deemed HQ in Utah by a method approved by both USOE and the US Department of Education, that status will not be reversed unless it was granted in error.
When considering Highly Qualified status, it is important to note that an individual’s HQ status can be different for different subjects. For example, suppose a teacher is state qualified to teach both Chemistry and Mathematics, but has only been deemed Highly Qualified for Mathematics. If that individual is assigned to teach Chemistry, he would not be considered HQ, but if he was assigned to teach Mathematics, he would be considered HQ. For the purposes of licensure upgrade, an individual is considered HQ if he is considered HQ for at least 1 NCLB subject area for which he is qualified to teach.
Each year in July USOE calculates the number of courses taught in Utah public schools during the previous year by Highly Qualified and Non Highly Qualified Teachers. The courses are counted using the student data submitted to USOE by all Utah school districts and charter schools; called the Clearinghouse. This data includes an identifier for the teacher of record for each course taught in the schools. For courses in an NCLB subject area (see above), USOE then uses this identifier to determine if the teacher of record has the qualifications to be considered HQ recorded in our educator licensing database; CACTUS.
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2. How Do I Know If I'm Already a Highly Qualified Teacher?
If you were licensed in Utah after January 1, 2007, you are most likely already considered Highly Qualified as this is now a requirement to receive a Utah license. If you were licensed prior to 2007, or if you have a “conditional” license, you may or may not be considered Highly Qualified. The easiest way to determine your current HQ status is to review your license information that is stored in CACTUS. You can do this from any internet-accessible computer by going to uen.org and clicking on the CACTUS link.
Highly Qualified status is stored in CACTUS on your license areas and endorsements. If a license area or endorsement is marked as Highly Qualified, you are considered a Highly Qualified teacher for any subject that the license area or endorsement qualified you to teach. Once you have accessed your licensing information, you will want to review your credential information. For both license areas and endorsements the last column on the right is “NCLB Qualified”.
If this column reads “not applicable”, then you know that this endorsement/license area does not qualify you to teach any NCLB subject courses and therefore HQ does not apply to this credential (i.e. Physical Education (K-12) endorsement).
If the column reads “no” this indicates that the endorsement/license area does qualify you to teach at least one NCLB subject course and you would not be considered Highly Qualified for any such course.
If the column reads anything else (Major, Major Equiv, Yes…etc) this indicates that the endorsement/license area does qualify you to teach at least one NCLB subject course and you would be considered Highly Qualified for any such course.
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3. I'm Not Highly Qualified! What Do I Do?
First, don’t panic. Remember that if you are not teaching an NCLB subject course, HQ status may not affect you. For example, lets say you have a level 2 license with a Secondary (6-12) license area, a Physical Education endorsement (not HQ applicable), and a Math level 2 endorsement that is not considered HQ. If you are only teaching PE courses, then the fact that your math endorsement is not HQ doesn’t really matter. However, it might in the future if you want to teach math or if your principal assigns you to teach a math class based on school need. This may also be a problem if you only had a level 1 license as you must be considered HQ in order to upgrade.
So, how do I become HQ? The first step to becoming HQ is to make sure that you are state qualified for the assignment. This means having a current license with all the proper license areas and/or endorsements necessary to teach the course. If you are not state qualified for the assignment, you will want to contact your district or charter school HR department as soon as possible so you can start working towards earning the proper credentials. Please note that current policy is that you must pass an appropriate PRAXIS test (see below) in order to earn the appropriate credentials for NCLB subject courses, so in the process of earning the credentials, you’ll also be deemed HQ!
If you are already state qualified for the assignment you will need to demonstrate your content knowledge using one of the methods described below. The approved methods depend on the area in which you are teaching or are qualified to teach.
Secondary (6-12) Content Areas
If you have a Bachelor’s degree or higher with a major in the specific subject area from an accredited university, you can be deemed Highly Qualified in that subject. Please note that degrees focusing on education in a particular area (pedagogy) do not meet this requirement. It must be a degree focused on the content of the subject area.
To process this in CACTUS, you will need to contact USOE and provide original transcripts showing the degree. If you are currently employed by a Utah school district or charter school, please contact your HR department first. Otherwise you can call USOE for details at (801) 538–7740.
If you have a major equivalent in the specific subject area, you can be deemed Highly Qualified in that subject. A major equivalent means at least 30 semester hours in the subject area from accredited universities. Please note that pedagogy courses such as “Methods of Teaching Mathematics” cannot be used to meet this requirement.
To process this in CACTUS, you will need to contact USOE and provide original transcripts showing the 30 (or more) semester hours. If you are currently employed by a Utah school district or charter school please contact your HR department first. Otherwise you can call USOE for details at (801) 538–7740.
If you pass the Utah approved PRAXIS test for the subject area, you can be deemed Highly Qualified in that subject. A list of all the PRAXIS tests approved for use in Utah can be found at ets.org/praxis/ut. Read through this list very carefully as this website also includes PRAXIS tests used for other purposes. Please contact your HR department or USOE if you are unsure of which test you need to take; we don’t want anyone paying to take the wrong test!
To process this in CACTUS simply make certain that you have your scores reported to USOE. We receive score downloads from ETS after every test administration and CACTUS is updated automatically. You will want to review your CACTUS record about 6 weeks after taking the test to make certain the scores have been reported. If, for whatever reason, they were not reported, you will need to get a copy of your score results to USOE to be processed. Please note that we do not accept faxed copies.
Elementary (K-3, K-6, 1-8) Content Areas
If you pass the Utah approved PRAXIS test for Elementary, you can be deemed Highly Qualified in Elementary courses. A list of all the PRAXIS tests approved for use in Utah can be found at ets.org/praxis/ut. Passing either test is sufficient to be deemed HQ for Elementary courses.
For teachers in grade 7 or 8, these tests will only deem you Highly Qualified if you are teaching grade 7 or 8 in an elementary setting (defined as an inclusion class where all content areas are taught by the same teacher in a school designated as an elementary school) but not if you are teaching grade 7 or 8 subject specific courses (such as 7th grade Pre-Algebra). Teachers of grade 7 or 8 subject specific courses must hold the appropriate endorsement to be state qualified for the subject and must follow the approved HQ methods for Secondary Content Areas (see above).
To process this in CACTUS simply make certain that you have your scores reported to the USOE. We receive score downloads from ETS after every test administration and CACTUS is updated automatically. You will want to review your CACTUS record about 6 weeks after taking the test to make certain the scores have been reported. If, for whatever reason, they were not reported, you will need to get a copy of your score results to USOE to be processed. Please note that we do not accept faxed copies.
Special Education (K-12)
Special Education can be a very confusing situation due to the variety of ways in which Special Education Teachers can be used. It is strong recommended that any Special Education Teacher consult with their district or charter school Special Education director before proceeding with any of the methods approved to become HQ.
Special Education teachers only need to be concerned with HQ status if they are delivering NCLB subject content to students. Highly Qualified status does not apply to a Special Ed teacher working in a consulting/collaborative role with a regular education subject teacher.
If you are a teacher of record for an NCLB subject course for special education students you can demonstrate content knowldedge, and be deemed HQ by taking the appropriate PRAXIS test or by utilizing the Utah Special Education Multiple Subject Extended Framework.
More information on the appropriate test and the framework.
You will need to contact your HR department or Special Education director in order to utilize the Multiple Subject Extended Framework. Please note that the Framework is only available to veteran teachers (licensed prior to July 1, 2009) and teachers already considered HQ in one subject area using the approved HQ methods for Secondary Content Areas (see above).
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