The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 required all students to be taught by “highly qualified” teachers by 2006. States had substantial flexibility in defining teacher standards and yet no State reached the goal of 100 percent highly qualified teachers (HQT) by the end of the 2005-2006 school year. Even before the first deadline past, the Federal government established a new deadline—the end of the 2006-07 school year.
Questions remain as to why the original well-publicized deadline was missed, whether the new deadline will be met, and whether the requirement itself is worthwhile. This paper examines the possibilities. It starts by briefly describing the teacher workforce in the United States at the time NCLB was enacted; in order to forecast where we are going, it helps to first understand where we have been. It then reviews the original intent of the law, examining how flexibility and local control were emphasized to give States power over implementation. The third section traces the evolution of States’ implementation efforts and the oversight activities of the U.S. Department of Education (hereafter referred to as the Department). It discusses how the Department’s oversight shifted from reactive to proactive as evidence mounted that States were abusing the flexibility of the law. As the Department became more active in overseeing implementation efforts, it increasingly relied on a variety of accountability measures authorized by the law. The fourth section reviews these accountability measures and States’ reactions. Having looked back at the last five years, we turn our attention to the road ahead and to indicators of how the new requirements have affected and will continue to affect the teacher workforce.