NEA seeks to keep ESEA (NCLB) from undermining IDEA
The federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, requires states to make sure that all teachers are "highly qualified" by 2006. NEA and others believe that IDEA needs to clarify that when applied to special education teachers "highly qualified" means teachers who have met state certification or licensure as a special education teacher.
NEA is working with the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and other national organizations to craft a workable definition of "highly qualified" special education teachers to include in the Senate version of the reauthorization bill.
Paraeducators –- NEA believes that, like special education teachers, paraeducators who work with special education students should be deemed "highly qualified" by meeting the requirements specifically related to special education and not the onerous "one-size-fits-all" definition in ESEA/NCLB.
Related Service Providers -- Ensure that all students receive special education services from qualified personnel by inserting a definition in IDEA that clarifies the qualifications needed by related service providers to be considered "highly qualified." Working with other organizations, such as the National Association of School Psychologists and the American Speech-Hearing and Language Association, NEA has lobbied Congress to include a definition that clarifies how related service providers can demonstrate that they are "highly qualified."
Adequate Yearly Progress and Assessments–- NEA is working to clarify and include appropriate assessment provisions and accountability practices for students with disabilities. It is worth noting that under current law states and local districts have to include children with disabilities in state and districtwide assessments, but also requires them to develop guidelines for the use of appropriate accommodations and participation in alternate assessments that take into account the students' disabilities.