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New Mexico State Department
of Education

300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Public Outreach Director
(505) 476-0393

PRESS RELEASE

April 14, 2003

NCLB, Legislative Changes to Impact Teacher Licensure


(Santa Fe, NM)-The Public School Reform bill (House Bill 212) signed by the Governor in April and the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act will impact teacher licensure in a number of areas, including compensation, background checks, teacher advancement, substandard licensure, internships, new hires, paraprofessionals and parents' right to information on their children's teachers. "School districts and educators across New Mexico need to be aware of these changes now in order to plan for the next school year," said James Ball, director of the New Mexico State Department of Education's (SDE) Professional Licensure Unit.

Under House Bill 212, parents of public school students must be notified within 60 days from the beginning of each school year that they may obtain information regarding the professional qualifications of their children's teachers, instructional support providers and school principals. In addition, the district's superintendent must give written notice to parents if their children are being taught for longer than four consecutive weeks by a substitute teacher or by a person who is not qualified to teach.

The legislation also prevents, beginning with the 2003-2004 school year, a person who does not hold a proper license or certificate or who has not submitted a complete application for licensure to the SDE within three months of beginning duties as a licensed school employee from being paid for services rendered; immediately extends to 24 months the validity of FBI background checks, required for initial licensure and employment; immediately requires holders of Level I and II licenses to hold them for three full years before advancing to the next licensure level; and, beginning in 2003-2004, limits substandard licenses to teachers only, ending issuance due to not passing one or more of the testing components.

A new State Board of Education (SBE) rule allows teachers in alternative licensure programs to apply for internship licensure. Newly hired teachers for Title I targeted assistance programs or schools in 2003-2004 must be "highly qualified" -- hold a bachelor's degree, have passed all required state teacher testing for their license and assignment and hold full state licensure with no waiver of licensure standards -- before they enter the classroom.

If the teacher is a new hire in Title I in a middle school and holds a K-8 license, he or she must have passed the content knowledge test for the core subject area of assignment or have successfully completed an undergraduate academic major or coursework equivalent in each subject taught or hold advanced credentials, like National Board Certification, in each core subject taught.

Finally, districts can submit paraprofessional tests for approval to the director of licensure. This is one way educational assistants can qualify for Level III educational assistant licensure, as required by SBE rule.