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Budget Deal’s Alternative Teacher Certification Provision

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October 18, 2013

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Budget Deal’s Alternative Teacher Certification Provision

After a 16-day government shutdown, the Senate and House of Representatives agreed on Wednesday night to a short-term deal to raise the debt ceiling and fund the federal government through a continuing resolution (CR). 

While the majority of focus has been on the end of the shutdown, the deal reached also extended a provision to allow teachers participating in an alternative certification program to be considered “highly qualified” under the Highly Qualified Teachers (HQT) section of the 2001 authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

While teachers who have gained certification through alternative routes have always been considered highly qualified, this provision allows that status to be extended to those who are teaching while concurrently enrolled in an alternative certification program.

As originally written, HQT requires all teachers of core academics, including CTE teachers whose courses may qualify for academic credit, to have a bachelor’s degree and a state-recognized teaching certification. At times, these requirements have proven stumbling blocks to implementing CTE academic integration programs.

The provision in the CR only addresses the issue of how alternative certification programs are considered; it does not change the bachelor’s degree requirement.

Originally, the extension was included in a 2010 spending bill to cover affected teachers through this school year, and was again extended again for the 2014-15 school year in a 2012 spending bill. Because Congress this year has again not been able to reauthorize ESEA, Wednesday night’s provision would extend the designation through the 2015-16 school year.

For ACTE, maintaining alternative pathways to the classroom has been a priority during Congress’ many reauthorization attempts of ESEA, and we were encouraged to see HQT removed from the latest House version, the Student Success Act (H.R. 5). While ACTE is heartened by Congress’ interest in alternative pathways to the teaching profession, we encourage lawmakers to undertake a full reauthorization of ESEA, including a permanent fix to HQT and alternative pathways to teaching.

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