There's probably no other state that will have to travel as far as Alabama in order to meet the January 2006 deadline for a highly qualified teacher (HQT) in every classroom. In one of its regular concessions to flexibility, the U.S. Department of Education (US ED) has for the second year in a row granted Alabama Title I schools a short reprieve in their obligation to notify parents if their child is being taught by an "unqualified teacher". Due to the recent reversal of a decades-old state ban on testing teachers (reported in TQB last week), US ED is again allowing Alabama to withhold these letters for the time being. The state was able to convince the feds that its teachers haven?t had a fair chance to earn HQT status since they lacked the testing option.
At this snail's pace, it seems improbable that Alabama stands a chance of meeting the January 2006 deadline for not just Title I teachers but all teachers. Last year, Alabama reported that only 34% of its teachers were highly qualified. However, State Superintendent Joe Morton remains much more optimistic than us. Morton believes that many teachers may have already passed the newly offered test, but he has no idea how many. One of the stipulations of the testing agreement is that the state has not been allowed to know how many teachers have elected to take the test?an agreement that serves what purpose?