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No Educator Left Behind: Paying for Paraprofessionals' Education

No Educator Left Behind is a series providing answers from the U.S. Department of Education to questions about the federal No Child Left Behind Act and how it will affect educators. If you have a question about No Child Left Behind, send an e-mail to Ellen Delisio, and we will submit your question to the Department of Education.

Question:

I have been paraprofessional for four years. I am a single parent with three school-age children. How will the No Child Left Behind Act affect my job? If I have to get a degree, will someone help me pay for it?

U.S. Department of Education:

The teacher quality provisions in the No Child Left Behind Act apply only to paraprofessionals who are paid with Title I funds or work in a school-wide Title I program and who provide instructional support. Title I aides who perform non-instructional duties, such as providing clerical or personal care support, are not covered under the No Child Left Behind Act.

The No Child Left Behind Act requires all Title I paraprofessionals who provide instructional support -- including those who serve as translators or conduct parental involvement activities -- to have a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent. That requirement is, for the most part, a reiteration of an earlier law that required most paraprofessionals to hold a secondary diploma or its equivalent.

In addition, the No Child Left Behind Act requires Title I instructional paraprofessionals hired after January 8, 2002, to fulfill one of these three requirements: (1) have completed two years of study at an institution of higher education; (2) have obtained an associates (or higher) degree; or (3) have met a rigorous standard of quality and be able to demonstrate, through a formal state or local academic assessment, knowledge of and the ability to assist in instructing reading, writing, and mathematics (or, as appropriate, reading readiness, writing readiness, and mathematics readiness.)

Title I instructional paraprofessionals hired on or before January 8, 2002, the date of enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act, must meet those requirements by January 8, 2006.

School districts may use Title I funds, as well as other funds -- including nearly $3 billion in Title II Teacher Quality funds -- to help paraprofessionals meet those requirements. States have significant flexibility on how best to meet individual needs.

Read previous questions and answers in our No Educator Left Behind archive.

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