Today’s teachers are some of the world’s most invaluable resources. Teaching is an important and difficult career that shapes not only the future of a student’s life but also the future of a society. The most important of the teacher’s many duties is the primary goal of educating the student. The quality of a teacher is determined by a wide range of factors. Research and tests have proven that the quality of the teacher has a great effect on how successfully the student learns (Suh, Fore, 2002). In one study, students that were placed with highly effective teachers for three years in a row scored 52 percentile points higher on a Tennessee state mathematics assessment than did students that had been placed with three consecutive low-quality teachers (Stonge, Hindman, 2003). Because the quality of the teacher has such a great effect on student learning, the issue of teacher quality is a very important matter in the world of education.
It is hard to define precisely which characteristics or attributes are required for a teacher to be considered highly-qualified. There are many schools of thought concerning which teaching styles and techniques are the “best” or the most effective. There have been contradictory results gathered from studies meant to determine the attributes of teachers that translate into the most effective classroom performances (Anthony, Goldhaber, 2003).
The United States government has recently given its input on this significant issue of teacher quality through the passing of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The purpose of this law, a revision of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, is to ensure that each American child is able to fulfill the high learning standards of his or her state (“United States,” 2004). The act proposes goals that improve upon four wide aspects of education. These include accountability for results, emphasis on proven education methods, increased parental options, and increased local control and flexibility (“AACTE,” 2004). Ensuring teacher quality is one of the main objectives of the No Child Left Behind Act. NCLB, as it is sometimes called (“Online Thesaurus,” 2004), requires states to employ a highly-qualified teacher in every public school classroom by the end of the 2005-2006 school year (“NCLB,” 2004). The act defines what is required by the government in order for a teacher to officially be considered highly-qualified. According to these requirements, a highly-qualified elementary and secondary school teacher must receive state certification, hold at least a bachelor's degree, and demonstrate subject-area competence (“NCLB,” 2004). Competence and certification are determined by the individual state through its chosen form of established assessment.
The act also requires states to plan annual, measurable objectives that each of the local school districts and schools must fulfill. States must then report on their progress in their annual report cards (“United States,”...