Highly Qualified Teachers

Frequently Asked Questions – Newly Revised with New Questions

April 2007

1.  When must all teachers meet the definition of “highly qualified”?

1.  All teachers who teach core academic subjects only in school districts that receive any Title IA and Title IIA money must be HQ.

2.  What if all of our teachers do not meet the definition of “highly qualified” in Core Academic Subjects by June 2007?

2.  Districts must submit a plan to the Oregon Department of Education for how all teachers teaching core academic subjects will become highly qualified.

3.  What are the “core academic subjects” for grades 7 through 12?

3.        Arts (visual arts, music, drama)


            History (Social Studies)

            Geography (Social Studies)

            Economics (Social Studies)

            Government and Civics (Social Studies)

 Sciences [Integrated Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics]

            Language Arts and Reading

           Foreign Languages (French, German, Japanese,

           Spanish, Latin and Russian)                        

4.  What are “core academic subjects” for grades k-6?

4.  Multiple Subjects including: grade-level reading; writing; math; science; social studies; art; music.

5.  What are the key features of meeting the definition of “highly qualified?”

5.  The teacher must have all of the following three things:

      a.   Hold full state licensure (as defined by the state); AND

      b.   Hold a Bachelor’s degree (all fully licensed teachers in Oregon already must hold a Bachelor’s degree); AND

      c.   Demonstrates subject matter competency in each of the core academic subjects the teacher teaches.




6.  What licenses meet full state licensure?


[*See, OAR 584-100-0041 for the Alternative Route license.]

6.         Five-year Teaching License,

Basic Teaching License,

Standard Teaching License,

Initial Teaching License,

Continuing Teaching License, and the

NCLB Approved Alternative Route Teaching License.* 

7.  Why just these licenses?

7.  The federal law says verbatim: “the teacher has not had certification or licensure requirements waived on an emergency, temporary or provisional basis.”  All other TSPC licenses fall into the category…emergency, temporary or provisional.

8.  What is TSPC’s relationship to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) as it relates to NCLB?

8.  The ODE is the lead state agency for implementing the No Child Left Behind laws.  The TSPC is the lead state agency for defining “highly qualified teachers” and how these definitions relate to licensure.  ODE is responsible for reporting to the U.S. Dept. of Education regarding Oregon’s and school districts’ progress in implementing NCLB.

9.  How do you analyze whether a teacher generally meets the definition of “highly qualified?”

9.  1: Check the teacher’s licensure and see if the license is included in “6” above;  2: Determine whether the teacher possesses the subject-matter competency that meets the federal requirements.  3: Determine whether the teacher is properly assigned by TSPC administrative rules.]  {See: OAR 584-100-0038 for HQT exceptions to the assignment rules.}

10. When do teachers with the Initial or Continuing Teaching License with the Early Childhood and Elementary authorizations meet the definition of “highly qualified?” 






10.  When properly assigned and authorized to teach under licensure administrative rules.  For example:  An Initial or Continuing Teaching License with only an Early Childhood authorization would not be authorized to teach the 5th grade under Oregon law; therefore, they could not be HQ in that assignment. Another example: An Initial or Continuing Teaching License with only an elementary authorization would not be highly qualified to teach pre-K through 2 grades also because they are not authorized to teach these grades under Oregon law.

11. What licenses are generally highly qualified to teach in grades k-6 self-contained classrooms based on their licenses alone?


“Self-contained classroom” is defined as: An assignment for teaching in grades preprimary through nine in which the teacher has full responsibility for the curriculum.

(See, 10 above for situational differences)

11.  Five Year Elementary Teaching License

Basic or Standard Teaching License – Elementary Endorsement

Initial or Continuing Teaching License – Multiple Subjects Endorsement

¨       Early Childhood Authorization is HQ in grades k-4

¨       Elementary Authorization is HQ in grades 3-6 in an elementary school

¨       Middle-Level Authorization is HQ in grades 5-6 in a Middle School

12.  How does the federal government in NCLB define elementary school?

12.  The term "elementary school" means a nonprofit institutional day or residential school including a public elementary charter school that provides elementary education as determined under state law.  [20 U.S.C. §7801(18) (federal definition).]

The state law definition (per ODE administrative rules) for elementary school is: Any combination of grades pre- K through 8. [See, OAR 581-022-0102(5).]

13.  Why is how elementary school is defined important?

13.  Giving states the authority to define elementary schools allows the state to determine that an Initial Teaching License with an Elementary  authorization or a Basic Teaching License with an Elementary endorsement are highly qualified to teach grades 7 and 8 in self-contained classrooms in schools that meet the state definition for elementary schools.

14.  Which elementary teachers are highly qualified to teach Title I reading?




14. Initial or Continuing Teaching Licensed teachers with early childhood, elementary and/or middle level grade authorizations and a multiple subjects endorsement may teach Title I reading only if the teacher also holds a reading endorsement.

Basic or Standard Teaching Licensed teachers with an elementary endorsement can teach Title I reading in grades pre-K through 9 (but not in a high school)  50% of the time in an instructional day.

15.  When is a Basic or Standard Teaching License with an Elementary Endorsement NOT HQ to teach reading?

15. If the teacher teaches reading 51% of the time or more, a reading endorsement is required.

Without the endorsement, the teacher would NOT be properly assigned therefore they cannot be highly qualified.

16. What is the difference between an elementary teacher who is “new to the profession” and one who is not?



16.  Under the federal law, a new to the profession elementary teacher may ONLY demonstrate subject-matter competency by passing a rigorous state test.

An elementary teacher who is NOT new to the profession (taught more that 3 complete school years) can satisfy the subject-matter competency issue through a state-determined “Highly Objective Uniform State Standard of Evaluation (HOUSSE)”  if the teacher has NOT passed a multiple subjects test.

17.  What is considered “new to the profession?”

17.  TSPC has defined “new to the profession” as: A teacher who has been teaching on an approved license in any U.S. jurisdiction in a public or regionally accredited private school less than three complete school years. [OAR 584-100-0006(8)]

18.  Can elementary teachers from out-of-state be “highly qualified?”

[Until elementary teachers new to the profession pass SOME rigorous state test, they cannot be considered highly qualified. This applies to NCLB Alternative Route Licenses also.]

18.  Many CAN be highly qualified if they have completed a teacher education program or hold an out-of-state license AND have passed ANY rigorous state test (not just Oregon’s).  [They still must meet all of Oregon’s licensure requirements.]

Oregon requires out-of-state elementary/middle-level teachers to take and pass the Multiple Subjects Examination (MSE).

19.  What are Highly Objective Uniform State Standards of Evaluation (HOUSSE) standards?

19.  This is the “state flexibility” that has been written into the NCLB Act for veteran teachers.

“HOUSSE” is only not available to general education teachers who are new to the profession.



20. How is a middle-level teacher “highly qualified?” [Grades 7 and 8]

20. The teacher must have full state licensure (See, 6 above.) and the teacher must demonstrate subject-matter competency in each core academic subject the teacher teaches.

21.  How does a middle-level teacher demonstrate subject-matter competency?






21.  It depends on whether they are new to the profession or not new to the profession.

    a)  If new to the profession, subject-matter competency in each of the core academic subjects the teacher teaches, may be demonstrated by ONE of the following:

        1. Passing a rigorous state test; OR

        2.  Holding a major in the subject; OR

        3.  Having course-work equivalent to a major in the subject; OR

        4.  Having a master’s degree in the subject.

   b)  If NOT new to the profession, subject-matter competency in each of the core academic subjects the teacher teaches, may be demonstrated by any ONE of the four factors above or additionally by:

       1.  Satisfying the state-determined HOUSSE standards for middle-level teachers. [See, OAR 584-100-0038 regarding Middle-Level/Secondary HOUSSE standards.]

22.  What are rigorous middle-level state tests?

[Oregon requires multiple-subjects tests for all middle-level core academic subject areas. To be highly qualified in grades 7 and 8 they MUST also demonstrate single-subject matter competency in all core academic subjects they teach.  This means they must have a major; coursework equivalent to a major; a master’s or a test in the subject area.



22.  For Grades 5-6 only:

(a) The Multiple Subjects Examination (ORELA MSE) test for elementary or middle level [See, OAR 584-100-0023 for more details];

For Grades 7-8 only:

(b) The appropriate Praxis II or NTE subject-matter test for middle-level or high school (e.g. middle-level social studies); or

(c) Satisfaction of the TSPC alternative assessment procedure; or

(d) Another state's subject-matter licensure exam designated as a "rigorous state test."  [May not satisfy TSPC’s testing requirements for the Initial Teaching License unless the test is identical to the one we have adopted and the score meets or exceeds Oregon’ adopted passing score.]

23.  What grades must definitely have highly qualified middle-level teachers?

23.  Grades 7 and 8 in any middle-school or junior high school.  Grades 5 and 6, regardless how configured, will only need elementary specific licenses to be highly qualified.

24.  What about teachers with “single subject” Basic Teaching Licenses such as “Basic Language Arts” who are authorized to teach only Language Arts in grades 5 through 9 or 5 through 12?





24.  First, these teachers, regardless of NCLB, are only authorized to teach the subject in which they are endorsed in grades 5-9, or 5-12--period. They have only had subject-specific training. They are not required to take the multiple-subjects test for licensure and have not been prepared in multiple subjects. 

Therefore, they may ONLY add a subject-matter endorsement in the same way they could prior to NCLB. However, it is possible that they can meet the definition of HQT in a subject without adding an endorsement.  Remember to check Oregon licensure assignments.  A teacher may be highly qualified in a subject, but if they could not be properly assigned to the subject prior to NCLB, they cannot be properly assigned through HQT status now.

25.  What about the differences between an Initial or Continuing Teaching License with a middle-Level authorization and a Basic or Standards Teaching License with an Elementary endorsement?

25.  The Initial or Continuing Teaching License with a middle-level authorization has the same restrictions as the Initial Teaching License with an elementary authorization (e.g., Initial or Continuing Teaching Licenses are not allowed to teach reading or other subjects allowed on the Basic Teaching License up to 50% of the day.)

Basic or Standard Teaching Licenses with an elementary endorsement may legally teach more classes than Initial Teaching Licenses with a middle-level authorization.  Please pay careful attention to what the license indicates is an authorized assignment.

26.   What about integrated classes?

26.  Teachers must be highly qualified in all the integrated subjects that they teach.  However, remember, this only applies to grades 7 through 12.  A multiple subjects endorsement in grades 5 and 6 is highly qualified to teach integrated courses.

27.  What are the HOUSSE standards for middle-level teachers?

27.  Please see OAR 584-100-0038 for the HOUSSE standards for middle-level and secondary teachers.  It can be located at:  http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/rules/OARS_500/OAR_584/584_100.html

28.  How do high school teachers meet the definition for “highly qualified?”

28.  Oregon has always required subject-matter endorsement to teach at the high school level. Additionally, TSPC’s endorsements have not changed. Therefore, teachers still need the specific science endorsements to teach the specific science subject-matter areas: Integrated Science, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. 

[See, OAR 584-100-0038for HOUSSE standards for secondary teachers.]

29.  What about Social Studies (grades 7-12)?

29.  Teachers who have passed the PRAXIS Social Studies test adopted by Oregon are highly qualified to teach all 4 areas of social studies: History; Geography; Economics; Civics and Government.

Teachers in grades 7 and 8 may be highly qualifed to teach Social Studies through passage of the middle school PRAXIS social studies test or through HOUSSE.

In the absence of the test; the teacher must be HQ in each of the 4 areas through coursework or HOUSSE.

30.  What about economics courses and Business majors?

30.  The federal government defined Economics as a Social Studies area.  TSPC has said that a Social Studies endorsement can teach any one of the four social studies areas defined in the federal law: Civics and Government, History, Geography and Economics.

A Business major is not social studies and is not specific to Economics. While it is “legal” under Oregon law for a Business Endorsement to teach Economics, it does not meet NCLB definition for highly qualified teacher unless the teacher can meet the HQT definition in Economics through testing or HOUSSE.  Additionally, if the credit being granted is

“business” credit and not Social Studies credit, then economics in this context is not a core academic subject.

31.  How do Conditional Assignment Permits (CAPs) work with NCLB?


{Check the administrative rules prior to misassignment to be sure, OAR 584-036-0081}



31.  First:  The Conditional Assignment Permit (CAP) rules have not changed since TSPC have adopted NCLB rules. That means that all the rules still apply that allow teachers to be conditionally assigned (misassigned) two periods without reporting the assignment to TSPC.

Second:  While you may legally conditionally assign a teacher under Oregon rules, make sure that you are not running afoul of the federal law.  You will need to report those misassignments when you report whether a class is being taught by a highly qualified teacher to the ODE when the information is annually requested, but you will not have to report them to TSPC at this time. Note:  A teacher may be misassigned under the license, but may meet the federal definition of HQT if they are able to meet the HOUSSE. Third: CAPs are still good for three years.  Fourth:  You may only conditionally assign educators who hold a Basic, Standard, Initial or Continuing License.  You may not conditionally assign any Transitional or Preliminary or Alternative Route Teaching Licensed teacher even for two periods.

32.  When is a Reading Endorsement required?














32.  It depends on the class and the license.  A reading endorsement is required for any Title I reading, or any type of remedial reading unless the teacher holds a Basic or Standard Teaching License and is teaching reading less than 50% of the day in grades k-9.

Grade-level reading classes, reading enhancement classes or other similar configurations do not require a reading endorsement if the teacher is authorized to teach multiple subjects at that grade level.

Basic or Standard Elementary License (no reading endorsement): (014 or 016) may teach reading (as described above) up to 50% of the teacher’s day. [This requirement has nothing to do with the number of students assigned to the teacher, it relates to the working day.]



Initial ECE/Elementary/Middle-Level/High School (no reading endorsement): Can teach Reading up to 10 hours per week, only at the authorized grade level but may not be highly qualified in reading without appropriate coursework and experience. [See Conditional Assignment Rule: OAR 584-060-0081 for specifics.]  Anything more than that requires a Reading Endorsement.

33.  How is a Reading Endorsement added?


33.  For Basic and Standard Teaching Licenses, see, OAR 584-038-0004.

For Initial and Continuing Teaching Licenses, see, OARs 584-060-0061(3) and 584-060-0081(1).

34. What is the difference between an authorization and an endorsement?





















34.  In 1999, when new licensure was created, grade level authorizations were created.  Formerly, under the Basic and Standard license design, grade level “authorizations” were acquired through an “endorsement.”  For example:  She has a Basic Teaching License with an Elementary Endorsement.

Under the new system, we no longer have an “elementary endorsement.”  Rather, we have the “authorization” to teach at the “elementary level.”

The “levels” of authorizations, which ONLY apply to the Initial and Continuing Licenses are:

  1. Early Intervention: (Birth to early childhood)
  2. Early Childhood: (preprimary through grade 4)
  3. Elementary: (Grade 3 and above in a school designated as an elementary school and/or self-contained 5th or 6th grade in a middle school.) Note: This level is NOT authorized to teach at grades 7 or 8 in a middle school (unlike the Basic and Standard Teaching Licenses).
  4. Middle-level: (Grades 5 through 9 in schools designated as elementary, middle or junior high schools.) [cont. next page]
  5.  High School: (Grades 7 through 12 of a school designated as a high school.) Note: A high school authorization only does not allow the teacher to teach grades 7 or 8 in a middle school or junior high school (unlike the Basic and Standard Teaching Licenses.)

Endorsements:  Since 1999, endorsements have only applied to specific subject-matter areas. Therefore, we no longer have anything such as: an Elementary Endorsement, an Administrator Endorsement, etc. that is connected to an Initial or Continuing Teaching License.

These are labels that only apply to the Basic and Standard Licenses.

35.  What is happening with Special Education Teachers?
















35.  All special education teachers must be highly qualified in the core academic subjects at the grade levels the students they are teaching are achieving.

The IDEIA allows teachers who are only providing consultative services, offering support or otherwise NOT delivering direct instruction to not meet the definition of HQT. [This does not include Life Skills.]

Teachers teaching students in grades K-8, may become highly qualified by passing the current multiple-subjects state test: ORELA Multiple Subject Examination.  Note:  passage of this test will not allow special education teachers to teach multiple subjects in the general education classroom. 

Basic or Standard Teaching Licenses with an Elementary Endorsement AND a special education endorsement are automatically HQT  based on their license alone for special education grades K-8 so long as they are assigned in accordance with their special education endorsement.

High school special education teachers must be highly qualified in each core academic subject they are teaching at the grade level at which their highest performing student is achieving.  A high school special education teacher may take the multiple subjects examination and be highly qualified to teach all special education students who are performing at or below the 8th grade level of achievement.

36.  What about Charter Schools?

36.  Teachers in Charter Schools are required to be highly qualified in the subjects that they teach under NCLB. They may not need to hold an Oregon license; but they must demonstrate subject-matter competency in the exact same manner as a licensed public school teacher.