Teacher's aides

December 28, 2004

Facts about teacher's aides, also called paraprofessionals, and the No Child Left Behind law:

Teacher's aides must meet higher standards than before the law was passed if they work in schools or positions supported by Title I, which is the primary federal aid for underprivileged students.

Teacher's aides must meet one of three requirements: complete two years of college study, obtain an associate's degree or pass a test. The test must be one in which aides demonstrate their knowledge of reading, writing and math and their ability to help teach those topics. All aides must also have a high school diploma or the equivalent.

Newly hired teacher's aides in Title I schools must qualify immediately. Other aides have until Jan. 8, 2006, to qualify, four years after the law took effect.

The law applies to aides who provide instructional support, such as one-on-one tutoring, assisting with classroom management or helping teach in a computer lab. It does not affect volunteers, or aides whose primary duties are serving lunch, supervising the playground or similar activities.

Teacher's aides who serve only as translators or handle only parental involvement activities must have a high school diploma.

Teacher aides who provide teaching support must work under the direct supervision of a highly qualified teacher. They should not be providing planned direct instruction or introducing students to new skills, concepts or content, the Education Department says.

School districts must require principals to attest that their teacher aides are complying with the law and providing that information to the public on request. The Education Department can penalize states that don't comply, but a spokesman says talk of such action is premature.

Source: Associated Press

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