Skip to Content

Highly Qualified Definition for Special Education Teachers

A. For all special education teachers:

- State special education certification or license
- At least a bachelor's degree
- Has not had a waiver of licensing requirements "on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basis"

B. For new and veteran special education teachers who are "teaching to alternate achievement standards:"

-- the above (A), plus:

1) meet the NCLB requirements for an elementary school teacher (i.e., test of basic skills in multiple core content subjects -- which may be the test taken as part of SpEd licensure); or

2) "in the case of instruction above the elementary level, has subject matter knowledge appropriate to the level of instruction being provided, as determined by the State, needed to effectively teach to those standards."

C. For VETERAN special education teachers teaching multiple subjects (2 or more core academic subjects):

-- the above (A), plus the options of:

1) complying with NCLB, as is; or

2) go through a state HOUSSE, "which may include a single, high, objective, uniform state standard of evaluation covering multiple subjects"  (Translation: allows states to develop a multi-subject HOUSSE for special ed teachers)

D. For NEW special education teachers teaching multiple subjects:

-- the above (A), plus be highly qualified in one core area (math, language arts, or science) AND THEN

1) comply with NCLB, as is, for demonstrating competency in other core subjects they teach; OR

2) go through a state HOUSSE, "which may include a single, high, objective, uniform state standard of evaluation covering multiple subjects, not later than 2 years after the date of employment."  (Translation:  NEW addition to NCLB--allows states to develop a multi-subject HOUSSE which can be used by NEW special ed teachers)

There is also Conference Report language which reiterates the guidance issued by USED which states that special education teachers who are not providing core content, but are instead providing consultative services to a HQ core content teacher are exempt from the subject matter requirements of the HQ definition in NCLB and IDEA.

Read the actual statutory language about "highly qualified" requirements in the IDEA bill (Section 602).