Wednesday, July 09, 2008

DCPS Now in Compliance with NCLB Highly Qualified Requirements

DCPS has now met the "Highly Qualified" requirements of the No Child Left Behind act.
DCPS Now in Compliance with NCLB Highly Qualified Requirements
School system separates noncompliant teaching staff and underperforming probationary teachers

WASHINGTON, DC – Today the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) announced that after more than two years of noncompliance, the school system is now in compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act’s (NCLB) highly qualified requirement, which mandates that all teachers of core academic subjects and paraprofessionals who provide direct academic support to students meet certain professional standards.

DCPS NCLB Compliance
Next week, DCPS will begin separating individuals who have failed to meet the necessary federal requirements needed to instruct students. This includes approximately 250 non- highly qualified teachers and 500 non-highly qualified paraprofessionals.

NCLB guidelines require the following conditions for teachers and paraprofessionals.

Teachers must:
  • obtain a bachelor's degree or better in the subject taught
  • obtain full state teacher certification
  • demonstrate knowledge in the subjects taught
Paraprofessionals must:
  • have a high school diploma or its equivalent
  • possess an associate’s degree or a minimum of 48 credit hours from an accredited college or university; OR
  • have passed a state-approved paraprofessional exam (ETS ParaPro Assessment)
"The days of selective compliance are over; District families are counting on this administration to hold DCPS accountable," said Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. "We owe it to our children to raise the bar, and to continue working towards ensuring they receive a quality education."

In 2006, the U.S. Department of Education required school districts across the country to ensure that all paraprofessionals with instructional duties meet the requirements of the mandate. DCPS at the time didn’t comply.

At the request of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Chancellor Rhee, upon her appointment last year, successfully negotiated an extension with the Department of Education, which granted all non-highly qualified paraprofessionals an extended deadline of June 30, 2008 to become compliant.

During the year-long extension, DCPS offered reimbursements for test prep classes as well as reimbursements for testing fees for those who passed the exam. In addition, The DCPS Office of Teaching and Learning in partnership with the University of the District of Columbia provided professional development training sessions to help test takers prepare for the exam.

"We have thousands of highly qualified, dedicated teachers and paraprofessionals serving DCPS students every day," said Chancellor Rhee. "Unfortunately complying with federal law is not optional and we thank those DCPS employees who have worked diligently to meet the requirements. We appreciate the service of those who did not meet the deadline, and wish them the best in their future endeavors."

None of the separations announced today will impact school opening due to the fact that none of the individuals were assigned a school for the 2008/’09 school year.

Other Separations
In addition to the non-highly qualified staff, DCPS will separate approximately 100 probationary teachers who under performed during their two-year probationary period. These individuals will also begin receiving notices next week.

Going Forward
Three years ago, the Department of Education placed the school system in high risk status based on numerous accountability issues, thereby putting the district at risk of jeopardizing future Title-1 dollars. Coming into compliance with the highly qualified mandate is a critical step toward securing and maintaining federal funds needed to successfully operate the district. Unlike past years, DCPS is committed to remaining compliant by fulfilling NCLB’s Parents Right to Know guidelines, notifying parents of the professional qualifications of their child's classroom teachers at the beginning of each school year.

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