Monday, October 13, 2008

Highly qualified teachers in most CCPS classrooms

The percentage of certificated teachers in Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) for the 2007-08 school year was 95 percent, which is 9 percent higher than the state average.

The percentage of certificated teachers in CCPS increased 11 percent over the last five school years, as 84 percent of teachers were certificated in the 2003-04 school year, according to Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), 2008 Maryland Report Card statistics.

In CCPS, 95 percent of teachers hold either a standard professional certificate or an advanced professional certificate, and 5 percent have conditional licenses and are working toward full certification.

The percentage of classrooms taught by highly qualified teachers has also increased over the past five school years, from 51 percent during the 2003-04 school year, to 91 percent during the 2007-08 school year, which is 6 percent higher than the state average.

The school system attributes the increases to its focus on hiring highly qualified teacher applicants.

"Principals have made efforts at the school level to place highly qualified teachers in the subject areas of their certification and highly qualified status. This has increased the number of Charles County Public Schools' classes that are being taught by highly qualified teachers," said Keith Hettel, CCPS assistant superintendent of human resources.

Teachers are deemed as highly qualified if they meet minimum requirements outlined by the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), enacted in 2002. The law requires teachers in core academic subject areas to be highly qualified in the subject area they teach.

Highly qualified teachers must have a bachelor's degree and full state certification, and be able to demonstrate content knowledge in their teaching subject area. These subjects are English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history and geography.

Highly qualified statistics reported by MSDE only include figures for teachers who teach core academic subject areas as defined by NCLB and do not reflect the percentage of teachers who are highly qualified, but are teaching in subject areas not considered core academic subject areas.

NCLB also requires that teachers newly hired in Title I schools be highly qualified, as they are partially paid with federal funds. Title I is a federal education program that provides services to at-risk students in high poverty elementary schools.

Classrooms not taught by highly qualified teachers are taught by teachers who are teaching outside of their certification subject areas or teachers with conditional certificates who are working toward full certification.

Teachers must meet certification requirements at the end of their conditional period. Conditional certificates are valid for two years and are issued to teachers employed in school systems that are not fully certified, but are working toward full certification.

"Human resources is not renewing teaching contracts for staff that have not made progress toward finishing their certification requirements. These vacancies are filled with fully certificated teachers," Hettel said.

NCLB allows parents to request the qualifications of their children's teachers and any paraprofessional that has direct contact with the student. Parents can request this information by putting their request in writing to their child's school principal. For more information, contact Hettel at 301-934-7230.

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