Paraprofessional Quality and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act: Background and Issues in Brief Page: 2 of 9
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Paraprofessional Quality and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) established minimum qualifications for
paraprofessionals (also known as instructional aides) employed in Title I, Part A-funded schools.
NCLB required that paraprofessionals must complete two years of college, obtain an associate's
degree, or demonstrate content knowledge and an ability to assist in classroom instruction. Prior
to the NCLB, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) required only that
paraprofessionals possess a high school diploma.
These requirements, as enacted through NCLB, apply to all paraprofessionals employed in a Title
I-A Schoolwide ( 1114) program without regard to whether the position is funded with federal,
state, or local funds. In Title I-A programs known as Targeted Assistance ( 1115), only those
paraprofessionals paid with Title I-A funds must meet the requirements (not those paid with state
or local funds). A report by the Education Department (ED) reveals that paraprofessionals
accounted for about one-third of instructional staff in Title I-A funded schools and districts.
NCLB authorized most ESEA programs through FY2007. The General Education Provisions Act
(GEPA) provided an automatic one-year extension of these programs through FY2008. While
most ESEA programs no longer have an explicit authorization, the programs continue to receive
annual appropriations and paraprofessional quality requirements continue to be in place. LEAs in
states that have received an ESEA flexibility waiver are not restricted in the use of Title I-A funds
for failing to meet NCLB teacher quality and student achievement accountability requirements;
however, all LEAs still must comply with the law's paraprofessional quality requirements.
This report describes the paraprofessional quality provisions and guidance provided by ED
regarding implementation. The report concludes with discussion of issues that may arise as
Congress considers reauthorization of the ESEA.
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Paraprofessional Quality and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act: Background and Issues in Brief, report, March 11, 2015; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc816384/m1/2/: accessed December 11, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.