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“Highly Qualified” Certification Questions and Answers Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) eliminated the Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirements beginning with the 2016-17 school year. However, Pennsylvania certification and staffing policies, statutes, and regulations remain in effect, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is required to ensure that all teachers and paraprofessionals in schools receiving federal funding fulfill state certification and licensure requirements. Consequently, the data elements that informed HQT calculations, such as course and faculty listings tied to student rosters, will continue to be utilized for both federal and state purposes. Local education agencies (LEAs) must continue reporting PIMS data elements associated with HQT; this will allow PDE to avoid making multiple revisions to data collection requirements in the future. 

This document provides LEAs with guidance that will ensure appropriate staffing assignments are made as a result of the changes made by ESSA. Please contact the Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality if you have additional specific staffing or certification questions.


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