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State and Local Implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act: Volume II - Teacher Quality Under NCLB: Interim Report

Abstract

"A central goal of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) is to ensure that every child is taught by a highly qualified teacher. NCLB requires states to set standards that teachers must meet to be considered highly qualified. To help improve the qualifications of teachers, the law provides funds that states can use to improve certification systems and recruit and retain highly qualified teachers. NCLB also supports ongoing professional development for all teachers. Finally, NCLB sets standards for the qualifications of instructional paraprofessionals (teacher aides) employed with Title I funds, recognizing that, in many Title I schools, paraprofessionals play a substantial role in children's educational experiences. This report describes the progress that states, districts, and schools have made toward NCLB's goal of providing children with teachers and paraprofessionals who will help them achieve at high levels of proficiency. The authors find that most teachers meet their states requirements to be considered highly qualified, but that these requirements vary widely from state to state, raising questions about whether some states' standards are sufficiently high. The report also finds that the percentage of teachers who are not highly qualified is higher for teachers of special education students, teachers of students with limited English proficiency, and teachers in high-poverty and high-minority schools. In addition, only about two-thirds of instructional paraprofessionals are considered qualified under NCLB. The authors conclude that these and other issues must be addressed if NCLB's goal of having an improved teaching workforce and thus better-served students is to be fully realized."

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