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Disability Advocates Call For Better Teacher Standards


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It doesn’t take much to be deemed a “highly qualified” teacher under federal law. Now, disability advocates are asking Congress to raise the bar.

Currently, teachers who are still working on their certification through an alternative training program like Teach for America are able to gain the “highly qualified” label.

The U.S. Senate is considering renewing a provision allowing these classroom rookies to retain the highly qualified designation but advocates from several national disability groups are asking them not to.

In a letter to leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee this week, advocates said the practice is having a disproportionately negative impact on students with disabilities.

“The current amendment has opened the floodgates for more and more uncertified special education teachers to serve students with disabilities,” reads the letter from the education task force of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, a coalition of nearly 100 disability organizations. “Being an effective teacher for a student with autism or intellectual disabilities or learning disabilities requires sophisticated skill and is not mastered in a five-week program.”

Two Senate committees had an opportunity to act on the provision this week, but both deferred, leaving the issue open for further debate.

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Comments (2 Responses)

  1. Melissa Masland says:

    I only wish that having a Special Education certification ensured good teaching. My daughter has gone all through the public education system in California and the quality of her teachers, all of whom were fully certified, varied greatly. There is a great article by Malcolm Gladwell detailing the difficulties in predicting who will make a good teacher, claiming that good teachers, like good NFL quarterbacks, are impossible to accurately identify until they are in the field. I wouldn’t focus on the certification process, I would focus on finding objective methods to judge the efficacy of the teachers in the classroom, and a process for removing those who are not in the top 50%. Children have one shot at an education, they deserve nothing but the very best.

  2. MDteachNET says:

    My Masters degree makes me highly qualified; however, I disagree. Experience, failure, success, time in front of student… only that will really make you “Highly Qualified”.


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