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The Path to "Highly Qualified" Special Education Teacher Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004

Many special education professionals are having trouble figuring out how the newly reauthorized IDEA's "Highly Qualified" provisions apply to them. We help untangle the question by taking it one step at a time.

This chart (PDF, 48.9 KB, 1 page) was developed jointly by the NEA Student Achievement Department, with consultation from the NEA Teacher Quality Department, and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE). It is an addendum to the manual, "IDEA and NCLB: Intersection of Access and Outcomes,"  produced jointly by NEA and NASDSE.

In addition to the federal rules shown here, each state has further clarified the meaning of several of these requirements, particularly the High Objective State Standard of Evaluation (HOUSSE). Therefore, it's important to also check with the appropriate NEA state affiliate to get the latest information on state requirements.

NEA supports the goals of the law, but we're working to put in place common sense changes that recognize the diversity of the teaching profession and that shift the law's punitive focus from measuring schools just on test scores to broader measures of students' progress and success. We hope you'll join us in our efforts to "fix and fund" NCLB. In the meantime, as the law stands now, this quiz will help teachers determine if they're legally "highly qualified" and, if not, what they need to do to meet the federal requirements.


  • anc_dyn_linksThe Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) - Old
    NEA's main NCLB/ESEA section