Highly fuzzy

It’s hard to ensure every teacher is “highly qualified,” as No Child Left Behind demands, so the Education Department is letting states relax the requirements, reports the Washington Post.

Changing course, the Education Department will allow states to count teachers as highly qualified even under standards that may do little to ensure quality.

Federal law allows veteran teachers to be considered highly qualified under factors that states choose, such as job evaluations, teaching awards or service on school committees.

The department in May ordered states to phase out that system for most teachers. Watchdog groups and the department itself say many states were using this system to set weak, improper standards.

Yet Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has pulled back, telling states this week in a letter that they now are “strongly encouraged,” though not required, to stop using the method to rate teachers.

“Service on school committees is a sign of endurance not quality. I’ve been on enough committees in my day to know that.

If it’s a choice between raising pay to attract better teachers and defining “qualified” as “has a pulse,” most districts will go for the latter, writes The Ed Wonk.

Update: This Week in Education has more links on Spineless Spellings.

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