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Schools, teachers work together on No Child Left Behind mandate

November 15, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Administrators of public school systems in the Tri-State area say they are working with the small percentage of teachers who do not meet a federal mandate to be designated as "highly qualified" in the classes they teach by the July 2006 deadline.

The requirement is part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, said Eric Michael, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Chambersburg (Pa.) Area School District.

Most teachers in the Tri-State area already meet the federal designation because they have full state certification or have taken tests demonstrating their knowledge of the subject they teach, administrators at three school systems said recently.

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Michael said 25 out of about 500 teachers - or 5 percent - in the Chambersburg system are not considered highly qualified by the federal government's guidelines.

Rick Deuell, assistant superintendent of human resources for Berkeley County (W.Va.) Schools said about 70 teachers out of 999 - or about 10 percent - employed by the system need to take steps to reach the highly qualified status.

About 120 out of the 1,500 Washington County Public Schools teachers - or about 8 percent - need to take steps to meet the highly qualified status, said Richard Gehrman Jr., supervisor of human resources and teacher personnel for the system.

Linda Barkdoll, interim director of human resources for the Washington County Board of Education, said the teachers that don't reach that status currently have been identified, contacted and are being helped so they can get that designation. In many cases, the teachers would reach that designation in time anyway as they get state certification, Barkdoll said.

Some teachers are taking classes offered at the system's central office as a step toward getting the designation, Barkdoll said. The most popular class offered for these teachers is on methods of teaching reading, a course that was not required for teachers renewing certification in recent years, Barkdoll said.

When classes are not offered in-house, the teachers are pointed toward classes offered at community colleges, she said.

Frank Aliveto, deputy superintendent for Berkeley County Schools, said the county system has been working with local universities to make sure classes are offered for teachers needing them.

Gehrman is holding meetings with teachers to explain the federal requirements to them, he said.

"We want to pave the way for teachers, to make it easier for them," Gehrman said about the designation.

Some of the 120 teachers are considered highly qualified in one subject, but as part of their job, they also teach courses outside the subject in which they are certified, Gehrman said. For example, a teacher certified in biology may be asked by a school principal to also teach a chemistry class, he said.

To meet the federal mandate, the teacher would need to either get certified in both subjects or stick to teaching the subject in which the teacher is certified, he said.

Administrators also are encouraging principals to, whenever possible, avoid having teachers teach outside the area in which they are certified, Gehrman said.

Deuell said the Berkeley County system is facing the same situation, as it also has some teachers who are teaching outside the area in which they are certified.

Gehrman stressed that teachers who do not meet the status have done nothing wrong and still are good, qualified instructors, he said.

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