Teaching assistants significantly contribute to student achievement, particularly in disadvantaged schools, according to a new study presented this month at the annual conference of the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research.
Researchers from Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill analyzed school finance data and student test data for 1,153 elementary schools, and 439 middle schools from 2006 to 2013.
They found an additional teaching assistant at a school was associated with increases in students’ reading scores of .8 percent to 1.3 percent of a standard deviation in reading and .7 percent to 1.1 percent of a standard deviation in math, with larger effects in more disadvantaged schools. Students in schools with more teaching assistants had both higher overall test scores and fewer school absences than students in schools with fewer assistants.
A version of this article appeared in the March 16, 2016 edition of Education Week as Paraprofessionals