'Hawaii Qualified Teacher' questions

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Law requires all teachers meet state certification or licensing requirements at the grade level and subject area in which the teacher has been assigned.

​​​​​Common questions about HQT

1. Are teachers still required to earn the highly qualified designation?

The ESSA law requires all teachers to meet state licensing or certification requirements in the subject area of their assignment.  This expands the requirement from teachers of core subjects to all teachers in all subjects.

2. Can I be designated highly qualified under the NCLB requirements?

Documentation postmarked by June 30, 2017 was processed under the NCLB requirements.  All documentation postmarked after June 30, 2017 will be processed under the ESSA HQT requirements.

3. I was deemed highly qualified under NCLB and received a highly qualified certificate. Is this still valid?

Yes, we will accept the Hawaii issued certificate that you earned under NCLB, as long as your Hawaii license remains current.

4. Will Hawaii accept highly qualified certificates from other states?

No. However, teachers may pursue a reciprocal Hawaii teaching license through the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board (HTSB).

5. Do charter school teachers need to earn the ESSA HQT designation?


6. Do private school teachers need to earn the ESSA HQT designation?


7. How do I earn the ESSA Hawaii Qualified designation?

To be considered ESSA Hawaii Qualified for your teaching assignment, you must:
  1. Hold a valid Hawaii teaching license in the subject area and grade level for the teaching assignment or
  2. Hold a valid Hawaii teaching license in any subject area for the grade span assigned, and meet one of the requirements under the following methods:
  • Passing score on a Praxis content exam or other accepted content exam for the subject area and grade span
  • National Board certification in the subject area
  • College major or 30 credits in the subject area
  • Completed ESSA Hawaii Qualified Teacher rubric in the subject area
  • Hawaii issued Highly Qualified Teacher certificate in the subject area

8. What does “fully licensed” mean?

Hawaii’s Provisional, Standard or Advanced licenses are considered full state licensure for the purposes of ESSA. 

9. Will HOUSSE be accepted for ESSA?

No. HOUSSE applications postmarked by June 30, 2017 were processed as a HOUSSE under NCLB guidelines.  HOUSSE has been replaced by the ESSA HQT Rubric.

10. What is the ESSA HQT Rubric?

The ESSA HQT rubric is a qualifying method to demonstrate content area expertise through professional experience, professional development, and pedagogy.  Teachers must have received an “effective” or better teacher performance rating to be eligible to complete the ESSA HQT rubric. Access the ESSA Rubric Form here.

11. Can workshops or college courses in reading be used for ESSA Rubric points in English/language arts?

Yes.  State Approved Teacher Education Program (SATEP) classes concentrated in the content of reading such as literature, phonics, fluency vocabulary, comprehension, and classes in the assessment of reading such as diagnosis and intervention may be submitted for professional development in English/language arts.  Note:  With the exception of these reading classes, education classes cannot be used as “content” towards HQ points.

12. Do special education teachers need to be ESSA HQT? 

Special education teachers who provide direct instruction in a subject area must meet the ESSA definition of a “Hawaii Qualified” teacher, including an appropriate demonstration of subject competence.  Direct instruction is defined as:
  • Planning curriculum, delivering instruction, and evaluating the performance of the student in any subject area;
  • Providing direct instruction in a subject area in a resource room setting;
  • Providing direct instruction in a subject area in any setting; and
  • Teaching elective credits in a subject area.
Special education teachers who do not provide direct instruction to special education students in a subject area, or who provide only consultation to Hawaii qualified teachers in adapting curricula, using behavioral supports and interventions, and selecting appropriate accommodations, teaching life skills, providing community based instruction, or assisting students with study skills or organizational skills to reinforce instruction that the child has already received from a Hawaii qualified teacher in that academic subject are not required to meet the definition for Hawaii qualified teachers.

Additionally, SPED teachers who co-teach an academic subject as “Teacher of Record 2” with a Hawaii qualified teacher of that subject who is listed in SIS as “Teacher of Record 1” (primary teacher) are not required to demonstrate subject matter competence.  However, all SPED teachers are required to have full state certification in special education.

13. I teach a fully self-contained class for severely disabled students.  Am I excluded from ESSA HQT requirements?

No. However, if you are a secondary teacher assigned to a class where all students take the Hawaii State Alternate Assessment, you must meet the ESSA HQT standards that apply to elementary special education teachers (full state certification in special education and elementary content proficiency).

14. Are Professional Development Plans required for teachers who are NHQT?

HQ Professional Development Plans (HQ PDP) are optional; however, completion of a plan is recommended, especially for those teachers seeking reimbursement for professional development activities that will enable them to meet HQ requirements.  PDPs are completed online at via the PDE3 website at https://pde3.k12.hi.us. See document 2e in the ESSA HQT Handbook for instructions on using the HQ PDP tool.

15. Who approves the HQ PDPs?

Principals are responsible for reviewing and approving HQ PDPs for teachers at their school.

16. Can I apply for temporary HQ status if I am enrolled in an alternative route to licensure program such as Teach for America?

No. Under NCLB, temporary HQ status was granted to teachers enrolled in a DOE approved alternative route to licensure program and who had demonstrated content proficiency in the subjects they were assigned to. ESSA law requires all teachers to meet state licensing or certification requirements.

17. Must substitute teachers be Hawaii qualified? 

The Hawaii DOE recommends but does not require that substitute teachers meet the Hawaii qualified requirements.

18. Do parent notification requirements apply to substitute teachers?

Parents must be notified if the substitute teacher has taught for four or more consecutive weeks a subject in which he/she is not Hawaii qualified.  See ESSA HQT Handbook, document 3i for a sample notification letter.

19. I am a retired teacher whose Hawaii teaching license has expired.  I was considered highly qualified prior to my retirement.  My license was in the area of my current teaching assignment.  Is the certification program that I completed to receive my education degree sufficient under ESSA?

No. If you are considered the teacher of record for the class, you will need to have a valid Hawaii license issued by HTSB. Your education degree will not qualify you for your teaching assignment.

20. What is a technology-based exemption?

Schools may request a technology based exemption for each teacher who is assigned a class that uses a computer based program to deliver instruction, assess, and grade students. Please view Class Exemption Reporting and Flowcharts for details, and access the Request for Technology-Based Exemption Form here

21. What are the requirements for teachers assigned to students at an Alternative Learning Center?

Teachers assigned to students at an Alternative Learning Center must have a valid HTSB Secondary License in the grade level they are assigned to teach (K-12, 5-8, 6-12) in any subject area.

22. Is the Assignment Preview in eHR for HQ the same as Roster Verification?

No.  Assignment Preview is used by the principal to verify that teacher assignments in the Student Information System (SIS) are correct.  Any corrections must be made in SIS.

Roster Verification uses the Battelle for Kids system to verify students that are assigned to teachers for each class period.

23. Will Title II A funds be available to help teachers meet certification requirements?

Yes, a portion of the funds will be available to help teachers meet certification requirements.  There will be a reimbursement process similar to existing HQT processes.

Contact Information

HQT Section

Phone: 808-441-8499

Email: hqt@k12.hi.us


Ho‘oha‘aheo newsletter cover

The Department's primary publication featuring successes across our public schools.

View all Ho‘oha‘aheo Newsletters