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Highly Qualified Teachers

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 required that K-12 core content teachers be highly qualified.  The information on this page relates only to this additional federal requirement.  Information on obtaining a Colorado teaching license can be accessed at

Please note, that NCLB highly qualified teacher requirements will no longer be in effect as of July 1, 2016.  Upon that date, federal law will defer to State teacher licensure requirements.  For more information on this transition, please click here.  

What are the HQ rules?

To be considered HQ under NCLB, all core content teachers must:

  1. Hold a degree
  2. Be fully licensed (except for general education teachers in charter schools that have been waived from licensing by the State Board of Education)
  3. Demonstrate subject matter competency

Who has to be HQ?

  • All K-12 core content teachers must be HQ.
  • This means that regular and special education teachers that are the primary provider of instruction must be HQ in their particular content area(s).
  • Core content areas under NCLB include: English, reading or language arts; mathematics; science; foreign languages; social studies (civics, government, history, geography, economics); The arts (visual arts, music). 

Note: All core content teachers in a Title I Schoolwide program are considered Title I teachers and must be HQ.

What is fully licensed?

Under the HQ rules in Colorado, a fully licensed teacher holds a current Colorado teaching license. This includes:

  • Initial license
  • Professional license
  • Interim authorization
  • Master teacher license (previously Master Teacher Licenses)
  • Alternative license
  • 5-Year substitute authorization
  • Adjunct authorization
  • Exchange teacher authorization

For NCLB purposes, an endorsement matching the teacher’s assignment is encouraged but not required –- except for special education endorsements. Teachers working with special education students must hold the proper special education endorsement(s). While teachers in some charter schools have been waived from the licensing rules, this does not extend to special education teachers working in those same schools.

Subject Matter Competency: Elementary (Grades K-6)

Subject matter competency must be shown through at least one of the following:

Subject Matter Competency: Secondary (Grades 6-12)

Subject matter competency must be shown through at least one of the following:

  • Earning an endorsement in assigned field,
  • Holding a degree in assigned field,
  • Passing a Colorado content test in assigned field (e.g., PLACE, PRAXIS II),
  • Earning 24-semester hours in assigned field,
  • Earning National Board Certification in assigned field, or
  • Passing a secondary multi-subject HOUSSE* provision (if eligible).

PLACE and Praxis II Information

Additional Resources



Jennifer Phillips Simons
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ETS offers free live webinars to help candidates succeed as they prepare for teacher licensure. These webinars offer in-depth information, study plan examples and the opportunity to ask questions. Topics include test overviews, free resources for test preparation and tips for reducing test anxiety. Registration opens approximately two weeks prior to the webinar date, and candidates are encouraged to participate and register early.

To view a schedule for the webinars and more information, visit the ETS Website.

** Note to teachers: If you have questions about obtaining a Colorado teaching license, please contact the Office of Educator Preparation, Licensing and Efforcement. There contact information is available at:

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Colorado Dept. of Education
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Denver, CO 80203
Phone: 303-866-6600
Fax: 303-830-0793
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