With the exception of special education, the vast majority of New Jersey teachers are considered “highly qualified” under the federal government’s No Child Left Behind Act. Only 0.1 percent of all teachers did not meet the criteria in 2010, which is an improvement over the 0.2 percent of teachers in 2009.
Special education teachers, particularly those in high-poverty schools, did not obtain that distinction. In high-poverty elementary schools, 0.9 percent of teachers did not meet the criteria, although almost all teachers in low-poverty schools met them. In high schools, the situation was even worse: 2.4 percent of teachers failed to meet the criteria in high-poverty special education, while 0.1 percent of low-poverty schools had that problem.
Highly qualified teachers are those that are certified to show content area expertise in each core academic subject that they teach, by either passing a content knowledge exam, having an undergraduate major in the subject or a graduate degree, or some other advanced credential.