Highly Qualifed & CTE: Tough Economic Times Creating New Options

As I have traveled the country, one of the most common questions I get is about how NCLB highly qualified teacher (HQT) requirements impact CTE. NCLB statute and regulations do not require CTE teachers to meet the same requirements as academic teachers, in large part because so many CTE teachers come from industry and through alternative routes. States some latitude to define what highly qualifed means for CTE.  However, the HQT regulations related to academic teachers have had the unintendend consequence of limiting states’ ability to allow CTE courses to garner academic credit because if academic credit is awarded then the teacher teaching that class must meet academic HQT requirements.  Several states have developed innovative approaches to this challenge. Idaho invested in funding to CTE teachers certified in academic areas. New York negotiated a waiver to allow academic and CTE team teaching (strictly regulated) to meet the requirements. California is the latest state to offer up another option given challenges districts are facing due to tough economic times.

Below is a recently published article that summarizes the California option quite nicely.  This article was written by Allen Young of The Cabinet Report, a subscribers-only daily news source published by School Innovations & Advocacy . 

“LEAs have options on tech instructors meeting NCLB qualifications
By Allen Young

With districts looking for creative ways to address staffing needs, the California Department of Education issued advice this week reminding local educational agencies that a career technical education instructor can qualify as a ‘highly qualified teacher’ with authorization from the school board.

The issue has been raised repeatedly by districts that are struggling under the current budget crisis to match diminishing instructional resources with ever growing student needs and still meet federal goals under the No Child Left Behind Act.


“Amid massive layoffs throughout the state, people are trying to save their jobs and find out what they are credentialed for,” said Lynda Nichols, NCLB coordinator at CDE. “When a district decides to have one of these classes and the board approves it as a graduation requirement, it throws the non-NCLB course into NCLB [requirements].”  The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing said that if a school is granting graduation credit for a CTE class, then the instructor need only carry a CTE credential.

To qualify as a “highly qualified teacher,” the instructor must have a four-year college degree and hold a proper credential in their CTE subject area.

There are many examples of crossover classes that provide alternate forms of graduation credit. The CDE has clarified on their website the sections in law that describe the classes and credentials needed for career tech teachers to provide graduation credit and fulfill UC admission requirements.   

Here is a summary. 

  • To be NCLB compliant, a business education instructor that has a single subject or standard secondary credentialed in business education can satisfy the economics requirement and does not need a history-social science credential.

  • The same applies for an agriculture instructor majored in agriculture business or education and credentialed with a single subject or standard secondary in agriculture.

  • A home economics instructor who majored in nutrition, dietetics, or food science with a single subject or standard secondary credential in home economics education can satisfy biological science and does not need a biology science credential.

  • Biology science can also be taught by a health instructor that posses a single subject credentialed in health science education.

  • A home economics instructor with a major in apparel design and merchandising and appropriately credentialed in home economics can satisfy the visual and performing arts requirement.

  • Finally, industrial and technology education teachers majored in either manufacturing technology or industrial technology can satisfy the physical sciences with a single subject or standard secondary ITE credential and would not need one in chemistry or physics science.

The CDE guidance for CTE instructors satisfying NCLB is available here:


The CTE Frequently Asked Questions are available here:




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