JONESBORO — Clayton County Public Schools recently achieved a milestone that has eluded other metropolitan districts across the state: When school opens Aug. 13, Clayton County will have a 100-percent “highly qualified” staff.
“Highly qualified” is professional jargon for teachers that are fully certified, hold at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year institution, and exhibit competence in the subjects they teach.
According to a Clayton County official, most Georgia school systems hover around 93 to 97 percent “highly qualified” staff.
“This means that our district has ensured that those individuals who are in front of our students have demonstrated that they have a content mastery of their assigned subject. This is important on a fundamental level because it reflects our commitment to quality instruction,” said Damaris Garrett, director of human resources for Clayton County Public Schools.
While the move to reach this goal began in 2002, Clayton County began to aggressively recruit “highly qualified” teachers five years ago. Teachers already in the system were moved so they would no longer be teaching outside of their expertise, or they were encouraged to explore educational opportunities that would bring their qualifications up to the higher standard.
“When I arrived here, one of the biggest concerns parents had was teachers teaching classes in areas outside their certification,” said Superintendent Edmond Heatley. “I charged our human resources department with the task of eliminating this concern and they have done it.”
“This is a major accomplishment for our school system,” said chief human resources officer Douglas Hendrix. “It reflects the hard work of our Human Resources Department, our administrators and our teachers. This would have never been possible without their dedication.”
Clayton County Public Schools currently employees nearly 3,700 teachers.