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Educator Qualifications Under ESSA

Overview

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) eliminates the “highly qualified” teacher requirements under No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Under ESSA, educators employed in schools supported with Title I funds must meet state certification requirements.[1] [2]

ESSA addresses educator qualifications three ways:

  • Title I school educator certification requirements: Teachers and paraprofessionals employed in Title I schools must meet state certification requirements. In Colorado, a license or authorization is required for employment as a teacher, special services provider, or principal in a school.[3]
  • Title I schools: Notifying parents of educator qualifications: Local Education Agencies (LEAs) that receive Title I funds are required to notify parents that they can request specific information about a teacher's qualifications.[4] Districts must also notify parents about an unqualified teacher who has been teaching their children for four or more consecutive weeks.
  • Equitable Distribution of Teachers (EDT): ESSA requires LEAs accepting Title I, Part A funds to develop plans to address disparities in low-income and minority students’ access to effective, in-field, or experienced teachers compared to their higher-income, non-minority cohorts.

This document clarifies teacher and paraprofessional qualifications under Colorado statute, parent notification requirements under ESSA, and key human capital considerations where EDT gaps are identified.

Topics Covered on this Page:

  • Educator Qualification Requirements 
  • Title I Schools: Notifying Parents of Educator Qualifications 
  • Equitable Distribution of Teachers (EDT) and Teacher In-Field Status
  • Frequently Asked Questions 
  • Printable version of this Resource 

 

Educator Qualification Requirements

Teacher Certification: Under ESSA, teachers and paraprofessionals in Title I schools must meet state certification requirements. Pursuant to sections 22-63-201 and 22-32-126, C.R.S., a Colorado license or authorization is required for employment as a teacher, special services provider or principal in a Colorado school or school district.[5] All licenses and authorizations must be endorsed to indicate the grade levels/developmental levels and specialization area(s) which are appropriate to the applicant's preparation, training and experience.[6]

Types of Colorado teacher licenses include:

  • Alternative teacher license - Valid for 1, 2, or 3 years depending on preparation program duration.
  • Initial license - Valid for 3 years.
  • Initial Special Services license - Valid for 3 years.
  • Professional license - Valid for 5 years.
  • Master Certificate - Valid for same period as professional license is valid and renewable.

Types of Colorado teacher authorizations include:

  • Emergency Authorization - Valid for 1 year, with possible reissue upon approval of State Board of Education.
  • Career and Technical Authorization - Valid for 3 years, cannot be renewed.
  • Substitute Authorization – Valid for a period of 1, 3 or 5 years, when the applicant has met relevant requirements.
  • Others (see CCR 301-37)

Paraprofessional Qualifications: According to C.R.S. 23-1-121.7 (1, e-g), a paraprofessional working in a Title I program may demonstrate qualifications in several ways, including:

  • Completion of at least two years of postsecondary study;
  • Obtaining an associates or higher degree; or
  • Successfully taking an assessment selected by the state or by the employing school district that meets state and federal standards and that demonstrates knowledge of and the ability to assist in instruction of reading, writing, and mathematics.

According to Colorado statute, school districts retain flexibility for further regulation of paraprofessionals, including certification or licensing. This means requirements can vary across LEAs.

Waivers: There are a number of waivers that charter schools can request from CDE.[7] Several of these waivers implicate in-field and effectiveness teacher indicators under the Equitable Distribution of Teachers (EDT) analyses. When conducting the EDT analyses, CDE incorporates all relevant, LEA-reported teacher experience, qualification, and effectiveness data submitted via the HR data pipeline.

Commonly Requested Non-Automatic Waivers

State Statute Citation

Description

22-9-106, C.R.S.

Local board duties concerning performance evaluations

22-2-112(1)(q)(I), C.R.S.

C.R.S. Commissioner Duties-concerning the reporting of performance evaluation ratings

22-32-109(1)(n)(I), C.R.S.

Local board duties concerning school calendar

22-32-109(1)(n)(II)(A), C.R.S.

Teacher-Pupil Contact Hours

22-32-109(1)(n)(II)(B), C.R.S.

Adopt district calendar

22-63-201, C.R.S.

Teacher Employment Act-Compensation & Dismissal Act-Requirement to hold a certificate

22-63-202, C.R.S.

Teacher Employment Act- Contracts in writing, damage provision

22-63-203, C.R.S.

Teacher Employment Act- Requirements for probationary teacher, renewal & nonrenewal

22-63-206, C.R.S.

Teacher Employment Act-Transfer of teachers

Title I Schools: Notifying Parents of Educator Qualifications

ESSA requires LEAs that receive Title I funds to notify parents that they can ask for and receive specific information about a teacher's qualifications. LEAs must also notify parents about an unqualified teacher who has been teaching their children for four or more consecutive weeks.

Notice to parents of right to request information: LEAs are required to inform parents that federal law gives them the right to request specific information about the professional qualifications of their children's classroom teachers. If information is requested, the LEA must give parents this information "in a timely manner." CDE has provided a template letter here. Parents are entitled to receive the following types of information:

  • Whether the teacher has met the state's certification criteria for the grade levels and subject matter s/he teaches;
  • Whether the state has waived its qualification and licensing criteria to permit the teacher to teach on an emergency or other provisional basis;
  • Whether the teacher is teaching coursework in the field or discipline of his/her certification;
  • Whether teachers' aides or similar paraprofessionals provide services to the parents' children, and if they do, their qualifications.

Out-of-field Teachers: ESSA requires that districts notify each parent whenever his/her child in a Title I school has been assigned or has been taught for four or more consecutive weeks by a teacher who does not meet applicable state certification or licensing requirements at the grade level or subject they have been assigned.[8] CDE has provided a template letter here.

Equitable Distribution of Teachers (EDT) and Teacher In-Field Status

ESSA requires LEAs accepting Title I, Part A funds to develop plans to address disparities in low-income and minority students’ access to effective, in-field, or experienced teachers compared to their higher-income, non-minority cohorts. Currently, these plans are captured in the Consolidated Application for federal funds. LEAs with fewer than 1,000 students enrolled (K-12) or no more than one school per grade span are exempt from these analyses. Colorado’s ESSA State Plan defines these teacher indicators as follows:

 

Indicator

Definition

Ineffective

Teacher received an Ineffective or Partially Effective evaluation rating, based on Colorado’s Educator Quality Standards. Half of this rating is based on professional practices and half is based on measures of student learning/outcomes.

Out-of-Field

Teacher does not hold at least one of the following in the subject area they teach:

  • Endorsement on a Colorado teaching license
  • Degree (bachelor’s or higher)
  • 36 semester hours
  • Passing score on a SBE-approved content exam (currently the ETS Praxis Series)

Inexperienced

Someone who has taught in a K-12 setting fewer than 3 full years (not limited to Colorado).

 

CDE includes only K-12 teachers with Job Classification codes 201 (General Ed.), 202 (Special Ed.), or 206 (Title I), and assigned the following “core course” codes:

EDT Analyses: Core Course Code List

Code

Name

0010

General Elementary Education

0015

General 7th / 8th Grade

0070

Co Alt Exclusively

0200-0299

Art

0500-0599

English Language Arts

0600-0699

Foreign Languages

1100-1199

Mathematics

1200-1299

Music

1300-1399

Natural/Physical/General Science

1500-1599

Social Sciences

1700-1799

Special Education

Good to Know!

This CDE webpage offers resources –including FAQs, explanation of methodology, best practices to address human capital needs—and guidance to communicate EDT results with stakeholders. These resources also offer ways to leverage Title II-A funds to attract and retain great teachers in high-need schools.

LEAs may be identified with disparities between the percent of teachers in-field, effective, or experienced teachers in highest poverty/minority schools compared to lowest poverty/minority schools. In such cases, CDE encourages LEAs developing plans to consider leading human capital system factors that influence teacher qualifications: e.g., hiring practices and protocols, recruitment efforts, preparation and licensing entry costs for incoming teachers, and ongoing professional learning. CDE encourages LEAs to prioritize Title II-A funding to address educator equity gaps. More information available here.

There are also a number of Colorado grants available to address teacher qualifications, including:

Grant

Use of Funds

Lead Agency

Rural School District Teaching Fellowship

Cost of attending an approved educator prep program

Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE)

Retaining Teachers Grant Program

One or more specific teacher retention strategies

CDE

Financial Incentives for Education in Rural Areas

Stipends for teachers in rural areas for alternative prep courses; concurrent enrollment, National Board, or special service provider certification

CDHE

 


References: 

[1] ESSA Sec. 1112 (b)(6): Each local educational agency plan shall provide assurances that the LEA will…ensure that all teachers and paraprofessionals working in a program supported with funds under [Title I, Part A] meet applicable State certification and licensure requirements, including any requirements for certification obtained through alternative routes to certification.

[2] ESSA Sec. 1111(g)(2)(M): Each State plan shall contain assurances that…the State has professional standards for paraprofessionals working in a program supported with funds under this part, including qualifications that were in place on the day before the date of enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

[3] Unless a relevant charter school waiver is granted.

[4] ESSA, Sec. 1112(e)(1)(a))

[5] Colorado Educator Licensing Act of 1991, Page 1. https://www.sos.state.co.us/CCR/GenerateRulePdf.do?ruleVersionId=7701&fileName=1%20CCR%20301-37

[6] To help support students in Colorado who are English language learners, the State Board of Education adopted new rules in June 2018 requiring educators with elementary, math, science, social studies and English language arts endorsements to complete Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Education training or professional development. Educators must meet the new licensing requirement within their next five-year license renewal period. https://www.cde.state.co.us/educatortalent/elpdeducators

[7] CDE, Waiver Requests. Accessed on March 5, 2019 at https://www.cde.state.co.us/cdechart/waivers

[8] ESSA, Sec. 1112(e)(1)(B)(ii).

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Must teachers qualify as ‘in-field’ as defined by Colorado’s ESSA State Plan before they can be hired?
    • No.  While CDE encourages LEAs to prioritize the hiring of teachers who have demonstrated subject matter competency in the subject area they will be assigned to teach, teachers’ status as in- or out-of-field will only be used to monitor and publicly report the rates at which low-income and minority students are being taught by inexperienced, out-of-field, and ineffective teachers.
  2. How is an in-field teacher defined in Colorado?
    • A teacher must hold at least one of the following in the subject area in which they have been assigned to teach in order to be considered in-field:
      • Endorsement on a Colorado teaching license
      • Degree (B.A. or higher)
      • 36 semester credit hours
      • Passing score on a State Board of Education approved content exam (currently the ETS Praxis Series)
  3. The number of semester credit hours required in the definition that was included in the draft ESSA plan was 24.  When did this change?
    • The State Board of Education approved a motion to change 24 semester credit hours to 36 at the March 9 meeting.  The draft plan, which was posted on February 9, had to remain posted for a 30 day period before we could make any changes to the final version. 
  4. Must teachers now have 36 semester credit hours to qualify for a subject area endorsement on their teaching license?
    • No.  The definition of in-field is used only for federal reporting purposes and does not affect Colorado statute or rule related to teacher licensure.  Endorsement requirements are detailed on the Licensing Office site. 
  5. What courses can be counted toward the 36 semester credit hours?
    • LEAs and charter schools should use the endorsement content evaluation worksheets to identify the first 24 credit hours.  CDE recommends that LEAs and charter schools take into account local policies to identify the remaining 12 credit hours that are relevant and applicable to the teaching assignment.
  6. Will teachers who were previously highly qualified through 24 semester credit hours be grandfathered in as in-field?
    • CDE will add the following option to the ‘Demonstrates In-Field Status’ field in the Staff Assignment File:
      • HQ via 24 hours (this option will be available through the 2018-19 school year) 
    • These teachers will be considered in-field through the 2018-19 school year after which they will need to have obtained one of the qualifications listed in the definition of an in-field teacher to be considered in field.
  7. Do the new requirements under the ESSA apply only to core content areas as NCLB did?
    • The requirements for teacher qualifications in section 1112 of the ESSA do not reference core content areas.  The applicable law in Colorado also does not reference specific content areas
  8. Must Title I school principals continue to utilize the principal attestation form?
    • No. This form is no longer required.
  9. How do these changes affect parent notification requirements?
    • Parents’ right to know:  All LEAs receiving Title I funds must notify parents of each student attending a Title I school of their right to request information on their child's teacher's qualifications. This is to be done at the beginning of every school year.  This requirement remains the same under the ESSA.
    • Four-week rule:  Under the NCLB,  if a student was receiving instruction for longer than four weeks by a teacher/substitute teacher who was not highly qualified, a letter informing the students’ parents of this information was required to be sent in a timely manner.  Under the ESSA, a school that receives Title I funds must provide timely notice to the parent of any student who has been assigned, or has been taught for 4 or more consecutive weeks by a teacher who does not meet applicable State certification or licensure requirements at the grade level and subject area in which the teacher has been assigned.
    • CDE provides sample letters that LEAs may edit and use to meet these requirements.
  10. What are the pathways to becoming an educator in Colorado?
    • Visit our website for aspiring educators to find out more about the traditional and alternative pathways to becoming an educator in Colorado.

For Additional Information Contact:

Jeremy Meredith 
ESEA Senior Consultant, Title II
303-866-3905
meredith_j@cde.state.co.us

Joey Willett
ESEA Senior Consultant, Title I & Title ID
303-866-6700
willett_j@cde.state.co.us

 

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