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TEA Correspondence

A Microsoft Word version of this letter is available for download and PRINTING.


USDE Ruling on New Interpretation

January 22, 2010


SUBJECT:     Revised USDE Guidance Related to Highly Qualified Teacher Requirements

The Texas Education Agency (Agency) has received a response from the U. S. Department of Education concerning the Agency’s appeal of the Department’s interpretation of the Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirements for new elementary teachers.  This is a follow up to the letter mailed to local education agencies (LEAs) on October 19, 2009 (available on line at http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/taa/stanprog101909.html).  The Department has reviewed its interpretation and confirmed the applicability of these new requirements to elementary school teachers who are new to the profession if they teach reading/language arts, writing, mathematics, science, and/or social studies. 

However, the Department has granted the Agency a waiver concerning the applicability of the requirements to elementary school teachers who are new to the profession if the subject(s) they teach are outside the basic elementary curriculum (e.g., art, music, and foreign language).

The attached guidance provides specific examples of the impact of these decisions on elementary teachers who are new to the profession in the 2009-2010 school year, as well as on the LEA’s reporting of the teachers’ Highly Qualified status and parent notifications at the local level.

Please understand that the Agency does not intend that any new teachers be released from their teaching positions due to this new interpretation.  The Agency will work with LEAs to the extent allowed by the USDE as you work through this issue.  The Agency understands the inconvenience and the financial impact this new interpretation may cause the affected campuses and teachers.

A webinar has been scheduled for 9:30 AM, Monday, February 1, 2010, to address any questions you may have concerning this new interpretation once final clarification and guidance is received from USDE.  Information on the webinar will be shared through the NCLB Update listserv that is disseminated to school districts each week via electronic mail.  To subscribe to the NCLB Update, go to http://www.tea.state.tx.us/list, select "No Child Left Behind" from the dropdown box, and click on the "Join or Leave" button.  At the second screen, enter your email address and name and click on the "Join the List" button. 

If you have questions regarding the NCLB Highly Qualified Teacher requirements, HQT reporting, or parent notification, please contact Scott Lewis in the Division of NCLB Program Coordination via electronic mail at scott.lewis@tea.state.tx.us or at (512) 463-9374.

If you have questions regarding teacher certification issues, please contact the Division of
Educator Credentialing via electronic mail at either karen.loonam@tea.state.tx.us or ruth.smith@tea.state.tx.us or via telephone at (512) 936-8224.



Gene Lenz
Deputy Associate Commissioner
   for Special Programs



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