Most states and large districts predict that vast majorities of their paraprofessionals will meet federal requirements for “highly qualified” teacher aides by next year’s deadline.
A survey released last week by Recruiting New Teachers found that urban districts estimated an average qualification rate of 90 percent by June, and rural districts predicted a 95 percent rate.
The Belmont, Mass.-based nonprofit group, which promotes finding and retaining high-quality teachers, surveyed 44 states and nearly 80 high-poverty urban and rural districts. The group had expressed concern about states’ and districts’ ability to meet the mandate under the No Child Left Behind Act, because only about 40 percent of the estimated 750,000 paraprofessionals across the country met the standard when the law took effect in 2002. To do so, paraprofessionals must hold an associate’s degree, have completed two years of college, or pass a test of reading, writing, and mathematics competence.
But while most states reported that they had mechanisms in place to monitor compliance, they could not provide data to show how many paraprofessionals satisfied the criteria and how many they expected to have qualified by the deadline, which is the end of this academic year, according to the report.
RNT has also published a guide to help states and districts use best practices to prepare their paraprofessionals to meet the mandate.
The survey was co-sponsored by the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation for Education. The policy brief and guide are available at www.recruitingteachers.org.