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No Child Left Behind - Highly Qualified Status

The federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 requires that all teachers teaching in core academic subject areas must be "highly qualified" (HQ) in each subject they teach. Core academic subject areas are defined as English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science (biology, chemistry, earth science, physics, and physical science), foreign languages (French, German, Latin, and Spanish), civics and government, economics, arts (visual arts and music), history, and geography. Teachers must be fully licensed with no licensure requirements waived. The emphasis of reaching HQ status, beyond the state license, is on content knowledge.

Each state must receive federal approval for its plan for measures of HQ status for its teachers. At this time, plans differ from state to state in terms of HQ measures and federal approval status. Teacher education students are urged to research HQ measures in each state in which they plan to pursue a teaching license and teaching position.

In general, when a Vanderbilt student first qualifies for a teaching license, HQ status is already met under the following circumstances that meet the federally-approved plan.

  • For Secondary 7-12 Licensed Teachers
    Vanderbilt students must pass the PRAXIS II content exam(s) for each endorsement they seek on their Tennessee teaching license. This means that the teacher is HQ to teach that endorsement subject. (Note: The teacher is also HQ to teach the subjects for which they have a major or 24 semester hours of course work — even though the teacher may not meet all licensure requirements for those subjects.)
  • For Elementary K-6 Licensed Teachers
    Vanderbilt students must pass the PRAXIS II "Elementary Education: Content Knowledge" exam for the elementary K-6 endorsement on a Tennessee teaching license. This means that the teacher is HQ to teach elementary curricula in grades K-6 based on PRAXIS II testing. The teacher may also be HQ in other subjects based on coursework completion.
  • For Special Education Teachers
    Whether or not you are required to meet HQ status depends on the nature of what and who you are teaching. If you are the teacher of record (if you are the teacher assigning the grade), you must be HQ for all the core subjects for which you assign a grade. The same mechanism that applies to elementary and/or secondary teachers applies to teachers of special education students. Note: the grade level of instruction is key, not the chronological age of the student.
  • For Early Childhood Education Teachers
    See information above for Elementary K-6 licensed teachers.