The ESEA and Highly Qualified teachers

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What does ESEA reauthorization mean for Highly Qualified teacher requirements?

The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015, the overdue reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), resulted in the elimination of the federal Highly Qualified Teacher requirement. Instead, ESSA requires states and districts to ensure that low-income and minority students are not served at disproportionate rates by “ineffective, out-of-field, or inexperienced teachers.”

OSPI’s guidance to districts explains how the state will phase out the Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement:

  • Effective immediately, districts are no longer required to identify and document HQT status for teachers hired after Dec. 10, 2015. Individuals must continue to meet state certification and endorsement requirements for placement.
  • Teachers hired before Dec. 10 for the 2015–16 school year are required to be highly qualified through the end of the current school year. This requirement includes any long-term substitutes (certificated teachers who serve as substitutes for four or more consecutive weeks in a single assignment).
  • Teachers currently assigned to a position that do not have HQT status and were hired before Dec. 10, 2015, are still expected by OSPI to complete a plan to become HQ, in coordination with their District. (please see Becoming Highly Qualified – 7 Things You Should Know)

If you have specific questions, please contact your local association or UniServ staff for assistance.

Read OSPI’s announcement on HQT changes as a result of ESSA.


U.S. Department of Education High Objective Uniform State Standard Evaluation (HOUSSE) waiver

Individuals whose districts submitted an appeal to OSPI in winter 2015-16 under the U.S. Department of Education waiver can still expect OSPI to process their claims and correct any HOUSSE forms that meet the requirements of the waiver. The window for submitting appeals is now closed.

Learn more about the waiver and its requirements


Becoming Highly Qualified - 7 things you should know

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  1. Your Individual Teacher Plan should be jointly developed by you and your district, not mandated by the district.
  2. No timeline is designated for completing the plan, but there is an expectation that you will become HQ as soon as possible.
  3. Include in the plan a description and timeline of your actions to become HQ and your district's actions to help you meet HQ requirements, including the amount of fiscal support the district will provide.
  4. Districts may use their Title II A dollars to support your becoming HQ. A partial list of appropriate expenditures includes test fees and preparation materials, professional development and compensation for time spent meeting the standards.
  5. To test or not to test?
    • Elementary – To become HQ, you must take either the NES Elementary Education test or the NES Early Childhood Education (P-3) test.
    • Secondary – More options are available at this level. You can take the relevant NES or WEST-E Subject Area test or you can meet requirements via another pathway, such as
      • Washington Subject Area Endorsement
      • Academic Major
      • Graduate Degree
      • Coursework equivalent to a major (45 quarter hours or 30 semester credits)
      • National Board Certification (make sure it aligns with the age/grade level of your assignment)
    • Special Education – You must become HQ in every subject you teach. If you have taught more than 180 days, you may complete the High Objective Uniform State Standard of Evaluation (HOUSSE) form to qualify. If in a consulting role, such as providing accommodations support to the teacher responsible for course content, you do not need to be HQ.
  6. What if you do not meet HQ requirements?
    • For Title I schools, districts must notify parents after your first four weeks of instruction.
    • In most cases, HQ status is not a condition of employment and should not lead to non-renewal or FTE reduction. Contact your Local or UniServ Council with any questions.
  7. If you are not HQ in your current assignment, you could transfer to a position for which you meet HQ standards rather than create and complete an Individual Teacher Plan.

For more information, contact Sally McNair, National & State Education Policy Implementation Coordinator.

See OSPI’s Highly Qualified (HQ) page for additional resources.