The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 required that paraprofessionals working in programs supported by Title I, Part A funds be highly qualified. The qualifications necessary to be considered highly qualified were prescribed by NCLB and included requirements for minimum education and subject matter competency. These requirements in NCLB have been replaced by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015. The ESSA now defers teacher qualification requirements in Title I programs to applicable State law.
No qualification or credentialing requirements for paraprofessionals or teaching assistants have been written into Colorado law. Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and charter schools have discretion in setting local hiring policies for these positions.
The Colorado Department of Education recommends that LEAs and charter schools adopt local hiring policies that set requirements for paraprofessionals equivalent or similar to those outlined below.
Instructional paraprofessionals should possess specific skills and knowledge in reading, writing, mathematics and instruction to serve in schools supported by Title I, Part A funds. At a minimum, instructional paraprofessionals should:
1.Possess a high school diploma or its equivalent (e.g., the GED); and
2.Demonstrate subject matter competency by:
a.Earning an Associate’s (or higher) degree; or
b.Completing at least two years (48 credit hours) of study at an institution of higher education; or
c.Passing a formal assessment measuring one’s knowledge of and ability to assist classroom teachers in reading, writing and mathematics.
Formal assessments should be valid and reliable. An assessment is valid if it measures mathematics, reading, and writing content at a level equivalent to the knowledge obtained by attending two years of college and is applicable to duties being assigned to the paraprofessional. An assessment is reliable if it provides consistent results. An LEA may develop its own assessment. Existing assessments that are valid and reliable for the purposes of assessing paraprofessionals’ subject matter competency are the ACT-Work Keys and ETS-ParaPro assessments.
Instructional paraprofessionals should be supervised directly by a licensed teacher. An instructional paraprofessional is an individual who provides instruction and support for classroom teachers. The following activities are recommended as appropriate job duties of an instructional paraprofessional:
- Provide one-on-one tutoring for eligible students, if the tutoring is scheduled at a time when a student would not otherwise receive instruction from a teacher
- Assist with classroom management, such as organizing instructional and other materials
- Provide assistance in a computer laboratory
- Provide instructional support in a library or media center
- Provide instructional services to students under the direct supervision of a teacher
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