Education Officials Clarify, Ease 'Highly Qualified' Rules

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Schools across the country are getting some wiggle room in a deadline to get a top teacher in every core class. Rural teachers, science teachers and those who teach multiple subjects will get leeway in showing they are highly qualified under federal law.

The changes are most sweeping for rural teachers, thousands of whom who will get an extra school year, until spring 2007, to show they are qualified in all topics they teach. Newly-hired rural teachers will get three years from their hire date.

Education officials are stressing that states have flexibility in deciding how teachers meet the 'highly qualified' requirements of a bachelor's degree, state certification and proven knowledge in the subjects they teach.

The easing of rules is the latest effort by the Bush administration to show it's trying to answer concerns about the No Child Left Behind Act without watering it down.