ODE posts credentials of teachers online

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 8, 2004

As modern-day students are looking more and more to the Internet to help them with their school projects, the Ohio Department of Education is helping parents do a little research of their own.

Last month, ODE launched an interactive window to professional credentials held by teachers in the state. The new Web page, entitled "Educator Information," can be accessed through the "hot topics" link on the ODE home page (www.ode.state. oh.us ) and is also listed as a resource on ODE's Web site for families. On this page, parents or other interested parties can access the credentials of Ohio teachers by using the first or last name of the teacher and the school district name. The program will show the grade level and content area of the credentials held by the teacher, as well as what type of certification the teacher holds and the last reported employing school district and teaching assignment.

"An important aspect of the (federal No Child Left Behind

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Act's) 'highly qualified teacher' definition is the alignment of state credentials with teaching assignments," said Marilyn Troyer, associate superintendent for ODE's Center for the Teaching Profession. "Parents have the right to know if their child's teacher has the proper credentials, and federal guidelines require that schools provide this information upon request."

Harold Shafer, superintendent of Lawrence County schools, said he thinks the Web site is a good tool for parents, as long as they understand what they are reading.

"We don't hire people who are not certified," Shafer said. "That's what makes our system good - getting good, quality people. Some of the certifications, though may be interpreted a little differently if

(those visiting the page) do not know what they mean."

For example, Shafer said a teacher with a social studies certification is not limited to teaching social studies. He or she are also certified to teach related courses such as government, history and geography. Those with English certifications can also teach subjects such as reading, writing and spelling.

ODE developed the new Web page in response to the No Child Left Behind


ODE's Office of Certification and Licensure provides the credential information listed on the new Web page. Employment information is gathered from the most recently approved report of ODE's Education Management Information System (EMIS*).

To date, Ohio is one of only 10 states in the nation that provides public access to teacher certification information. Prior to the launch of this page, parents seeking information about educators had to obtain the information from the school.

"We are confident that this information will provide parents with a high level of assurance concerning the qualifications of their child's teacher," Troyer said.

This past fall, ODE reported to the U.S. Department of Education that more than 82 percent of Ohio teachers met the No Child Left Behind

Act definition of a "highly qualified teacher" in the 2002-2003 school year. ODE expects the 2003-2004 report to show that more than 90 percent of Ohio teachers meet the definition. Federal legislation requires that 100 percent of active teachers meet the "highly qualified teacher" definition by 2006.

"I think it's a good thing, as long as it's not too personal," Shafer said. "(Teachers') credentials are public information and everybody has a right to know. I think it shows we are trying to do everything we can (to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act)."