NCLB’s highly qualified rule has little impact

A new report from the Center for Education Policy, based on a survey of officials in all 50 states and a nationally representative group of nearly 350 school districts, finds that the NCLB highly qualified teacher requirements have had minimal or no impact on student achievement and have not had a major impact on teacher effectiveness.

Many state and district officials felt the NCLB definition of a highly qualified teacher was too narrowly focused on content knowledge. Survey respondents and interviewees who participated in case studies prepared for the report suggested revising the definition to take into account teachers’ effectiveness in the classroom and other qualities essential to a good teacher, such as the ability to relate to students and the ability to effectively teach students from different backgrounds and differentiate instruction according to students’ needs.

The report also discusses state and district implementation of the federal requirements to equitably distribute experienced, highly qualified teachers among higher and lower poverty schools. On the question of equitable distribution, only five states reported that as a result of the law, the distribution had become more equitable to a great extent, 17 said it had become somewhat more equitable, and another 17 states said it had become minimally more equitable.