Sent: Thursday, April 21, 2005 3:45 PM
Subject: Urgent Message to Illinois Schools and Teachers 4-21-05

Importance: High
Urgent Information:

New Criteria for Identifying Teachers as “Highly Qualified”


As you may know, ISBE was recently advised by representatives of the U.S. Department of Education that our existing criteria for identifying teachers as “highly qualified” for assignments in core academic subjects are not acceptable.  I recognize how frustrating it has been for you not to have had a firm basis for the upcoming reporting of “highly qualified” data in connection with the School Report Card.  Today we have updated information for you to use.  The new criteria that we have submitted to the U.S. Department of Education and that we intend to use are posted in two formats at:




I strongly recommend that you report information regarding the status of your teachers with this draft as the point of reference.


The existing Illinois criteria are found in the rules for certification, and ISBE cannot complete a change in those rules prior to your reporting deadline.  We will therefore need to be progressing through the rulemaking process at the same time as we determine whether there is going to be any further information forthcoming, either from the Department of Education in general or from the Office of Special Education Programs with regard to special education teachers.


The major difference between the existing criteria and the new version is the increased emphasis on subject-area competency for special education teachers.  We will not be able to treat special education as a core academic area of assignment as expressed in the current rules.  Similarly, career and technical education teachers for whose courses credit is given in core academic subjects cannot be considered “highly qualified” without demonstrating competence in those subjects.


Within the “HOUSSE” for veteran teachers, we have been required to decrease the total points available for teaching experience.  On the other hand, we have been able to identify additional professional development activities for which we believe points can legitimately be counted.  Also, in the revised version, each teacher becomes a veteran teacher and can take advantage of HOUSSE once he or she has attained one year’s teaching experience.


In closing, let me say once again how much we at ISBE regret the lack of certainty that surrounds the identification of teachers as “highly qualified”.  We will do all we can in the coming weeks to make the available information as clear as possible.  If you need assistance after reviewing the material we have posted, please send an e-mail to  You will receive the fastest response we can manage.  Thank you for your patience.