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Missouri Gets Failing Grade on Verifiying Teachers' Qualifications

Missouri received a failing grade from the U-S Department of Education this week for not meeting federal requirements to have highly qualified teachers in the classroom. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

The mandate that states verify all teachers' credentials is part of the No Child Left Behind law.

Jim Morris is the spokesman for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

He says unless the state presents proof by November first that teachers meet the federal definition of "highly qualified," the state could lose federal education funds.

Morris says most of Missouri's teachers meet federal requirements.

He says the main problem has to do with teachers who were certified before 1988 when the state had different standards.

Morris says it's regrettable that Missouri's classification as high risk has been made public before the state has completed its verification, something the state must do by November first.

One of the groups that represents teachers in Missouri says the failing grade is not indicative of the quality of teachers in the state.

Todd Fuller is spokesperson for Missouri State Teachers Association.

Fuller says teachers who were certified before 1988 are highly qualified.

He says there are several ways to prove their qualifications.

Missouri is one of only four states in the "high risk" category. Its teacher-quality data will be scrutinized by auditors.