"Highly Qualified" a Dubious Designation

A new study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) found that the “highly qualified teacher” (HQT) designation required under the federal No Child Left Behind Act fails to carry much weight in the classroom. Observations of 5th graders in 20 states revealed that students of “highly qualified” teachers spent the bulk of their time focusing on basic skills (as opposed to problem-solving and higher order skills). The study’s author Robert Pianta wrote, “This pattern of instruction appears inconsistent with aims to add depth to students’ understanding, particularly in mathematics and sciences.” In short, more credentialing doesn’t necessarily translate to better teaching. Robert Yinger of the Cincinnati-based Teacher Quality Partnership noted, “If we really want to deal with the issue of good quality teaching…we’ve got to get serious about some more rigorous way of looking at teacher performance.” Sadly, Ohio Governor Strickland’s budget bill doesn’t do it. Instead, it would require charter school leaders to hire only teachers meeting the “highly qualified” status (never mind high quality teachers). Let’s hope lawmakers see things differently--while “highly qualified” may have a nice ring to it, that’s only because the words are hollow.

Study Casts Doubt on Value of ‘Highly Qualified’ Status,” by Linda Jacobson, Education Week, April 4, 2007.