TitleHighly qualified special education teachers
NameStradford, Lynn (author), Giarelli, James (chair), Vitello, Stanley (internal member), Jefferies, John (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School of Education,
SubjectSocial and Philosophical Foundations of Education,
Special education teachers--Certification,
Special education teachers--Training of,
United States. No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
DescriptionThe No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires that all teachers obtain “highly
qualified teacher” (HQT) status in the specific content areas that they were assigned to
teach. Many experienced special education teachers, although certified to work with
children with disabilities, did not have a content area specialty, and therefore were not
considered highly qualified under NCLB. This phenomenological study conducted a
series of three interviews in which a sample of 9 teachers were asked to share their
perceptions of HQT based on the following questions:
• What steps have these teachers taken to become “highly qualified” and what
challenges, if any, did they face in the process?
• How has the school district adapted programs to accommodate the changes in
qualifications of the special education teachers?
• How do the special education teachers perceive the changes, if any, and how
have they affected the children they have been assigned to teach?
The participants of this study shared their rich and varied educational
backgrounds; they have acquired valuable life experiences and taken advantage of
various professional development opportunities to prepare them for their positions as
special education teachers. The nine special educators in this study discussed how they
felt the “highly qualified teacher” mandate affected them professionally, and more
specifically, their job assignments. For the most part, the participants of this study did not
feel that the HQT process affected their job assignments. All but one believed that
content knowledge is important. The teachers’ perceptions of HQT have been an essential part of this study. Most
felt that it is necessary that teachers who are competent and knowledgeable should teach
students. However, while the teachers generally agreed that both regular and special
education teachers should be equipped with the skills necessary to service all students,
some felt that the “highly qualified teacher” label does not necessarily make a good
teacher, and not all felt that having HQT status would benefit the students. Some of the
teachers also believed that in-class support has not positively affected the students. They
discussed how some students with special needs are struggling in general education classes. The HQT aspect of NCLB has been a necessary revision to education law, but it has been a controversial subject that has caused much debate in many areas of education. The “Highly Qualified Special Education Teacher” should be recognized as valuable for the knowledge of disabilities, teaching strategies and behavioral techniques.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Lynn Maria Stradford
CollectionGraduate School of Education Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.