Keller Citizen

Highly qualified teacher mandate may conflict with changes in Texas graduation plans

While 100 percent of Keller teachers in core academic subject areas in 2013-14 are considered highly qualified, that percentage may get tougher to meet as the school district adds more career and technical classes.

“It’s going to get harder and harder to make sure they’re highly qualified, but we want the best teacher in the classroom and not just great test takers,” said Penny Benz, assistant superintendent of human resources.

Keller administrators presented a report on highly qualified teachers at the Nov. 14 board meeting.

At odds are the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 which requires that 100 percent of the teachers in core courses be highly qualified and the recent passage in the Texas Legislature of new high school graduation options involving career and technical education (CTE) courses.

Johjania Najera, director of human resources, told Keller trustees that House Bill 5 allows students to get core credits in some CTE classes. Many of those courses are taught by former business and industry professionals who may not have taken all the teacher tests in that subject.

According to the Texas Education Agency, teachers are considered highly qualified when they have at least a bachelors degree, are fully certified to teach in Texas and have demonstrated competency in their core academic area which involves passing multiple tests.

Superintendent Randy Reid said, “With the more creative course work provided for kids, the best teacher option may not be highly qualified as in certified in multiple areas.”

Trustee Karina Davis asked what the impact is on the district if it doesn’t meet the requirement.

Najera said there is no real penalty, but school officials must provide additional professional development to the teacher and work to assist that person in becoming fully certified.