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Highly Qualified Teachers

What are the HQ rules?

To be considered HQ under NCLB, all core content teachers must:

  1. Hold a degree
  2. Be fully licensed (except for general education teachers in charter schools that have been waived from licensing by the State Board of Education)
  3. Demonstrate subject matter competency

Who has to be HQ?

All K-12 core content teachers must be HQ. This means that regular and special education teachers that are the primary provider of instruction must be HQ in their particular content area(s), including English, reading or language arts; mathematics; science; foreign languages; social studies (civics, government, history, geography, economics); The arts (visual arts, music).

Note: All core content teachers in a Title I Schoolwide program are considered Title I teachers and must be HQ.

What is fully licensed?

Under the HQ rules in Colorado, a fully licensed teacher holds a current Colorado teaching license. This includes:

  • TCH licenses (previously Initial and Professional Licenses and Interim Authorizations)
  • MTCH licenses (previously Master Teacher Licenses)
  • ALT-P (previously Alternative Teaching Licenses)
  • SUB5 (previously 5-Year Sub Authorizations)

For NCLB purposes, an endorsement matching the teacher’s assignment is encouraged but not required –- except for special education endorsements. Teachers working with special education students must hold the proper special education endorsement(s). While teachers in some charter schools have been waived from the licensing rules, this does not extend to special education teachers working in those same schools.

Subject Matter Competency: Elementary (Grades K-6)

Subject matter competency must be shown through at least one of the following:

Subject Matter Competency: Secondary (Grades 6-12)

Subject matter competency must be shown through at least one of the following:

  • Earning an endorsement in assigned field,
  • Holding a degree in assigned field,
  • Passing a Colorado content test in assigned field (e.g., PLACE, PRAXIS II),
  • Earning 24-semester hours in assigned field,
  • Earning National Board Certification in assigned field, or
  • Passing a secondary multi-subject HOUSSE* provision (if eligible).


Jennifer Phillips Simons
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Colorado Dept. of Education
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Educator Licensing