Court Recognizes Flexibility in California’s Certification of Teachers Under "No Child Left Behind Act"

Education is a hot button topic in America.  One of the great challenges is placing highly qualified teachers in the classroom – especially in classrooms serving underprivileged students.  One attempt to bridge the achievement gap between rich and poor (and between different ethnic groups) is the so-called “No Child Left Behind Act” (NCLB, 20 U.S.C. Sections 6301, et seq.).  Under the NCLB, core subjects must be taught by “highly qualified” teachers.  Individual states are free to adopt innovative certification programs to assure that level of competence in the classroom. Indeed, the NCLB looks to state certification programs to assure that only “highly qualified” teachers are providing core instruction.   California has a detailed certification procedure for classroom teachers and school administrators.  Classroom teachers receive a “preliminary credential,” to be followed by a “clear” credential that is more permanent, but subject to renewal every five years.  (California Education Code sections 44274.2, 44251.  Teachers may qualify for the preliminary credential by working gin an “internship” program (section 44259).    In <a href="/sites/default/files/Renee v Duncan (No Child Left Behind Certification).pdf">Renee v. Duncan</a>, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals observed the flexibility is the hallmark of NCLB and concluded that local teachers could not attack the practice of allowing others to obtain NCLB status as “highly qualified” teachers by following alternative procedures such as internship work.  Although Renee v. Armstrong does not begin to answer all questions under the NCLB, the case is an interesting insight into the flexibility of California’s credentialing requirements.  To review the court’s analysis, see the attached judicial opinion discussing the No Child Left Behind Act and how the certification procedures work in California.