When is "Highly Qualified" Not?

Part of the No Child Left Behind (NLCB) legislation is the requirement that every child have a "highly qualified teacher". You would think that Congress in it’s wisdom(?) would have specified in the law exactly what they meant by that phrase but instead they left it up to the states to decide. So we get 51 definitions, undoubtedly with slightly different words and meanings.

In Virginia, where I live and work, the state Department of Education (pdf) says that a highly qualified teacher "holds a full licensure as a teacher" and "teaches only in the area of endorsement". For those of you not fluent in educationese, this means in Virginia I’m considered "highly qualified" to teach if I have lots of credits in the subject I’m teaching, I only teach that subject, and I’ve passed a standardized test for teachers called Praxis (from the fine folks who bring you the SAT), which is required for full licensure.

Buzz! Sorry! Good try! Pick up your parting gifts! That is NOT the definition of "highly qualified". That is the definition of minimally qualified. A highly qualified teacher is so much more.