Teacher "Grades" Still Stalled

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For the second consecutive year, Alabama school systems won't be sending letters notifying parents if their child's teacher has not been deemed “highly qualified,” at least not until a teacher testing case is settled.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires the notification, but the state Board of Education refused to allow systems to send letters last year because teacher tests, a method used by many states to rate a teacher as “highly qualified” have been barred in Alabama under a federal court case going back two decades.

State lawyers announced two weeks ago that negotiations in the case had resulted in a tentative settlement that would allow a resumption of testing.

Federal officials had agreed to give the state time to resolve the case and restart testing of new teachers as early as 2006. The state school board is likely to give its approval to the settlement in the teacher-testing case when it meets Thursday.

State Schools Superintendent Joe Morton said federal officials may insist the letters go out once all parties sign off on the new agreement.