Teaching Profession

Rules Clarify Changes On Teacher, Paraprofessional Qualifications

By Erik W. Robelen — August 07, 2002 | Corrected: February 23, 2019 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Corrected: This story should have said that any teacher who is hired after the first day of the 2002-03 school year in a core academic subject and whose salary is supported with Title I money - whether in a targeted-assistance program or in a school where Title I is used for a schoolwide program - must meet new teacher qualification requirements. All teachers hired on or before the first day of this school year in such schools have until the 2005-06 school year to meet these requirements under the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001. The story also should have said that if a teacher has had certification or licensure requirements waived on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basis, the teacher would not meet the new qualification requirements.

The Department of Education sought last week to clarify new federal requirements on teachers and paraprofessionals, an aspect of last year’s federal education law that has had state and district officials especially nervous.

The draft regulations address ambitious provisions of the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001 that dictate the kind of credentials and content knowledge that will be demanded of many teachers before they reach the classroom. The law, a revision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, mandates that all public school teachers meet a definition of “highly qualified” by the 2005- 06 school year, and that teachers whose salaries come from federal Title I funds meet the requirements this coming school year.

Generally speaking, to be considered highly qualified under the draft rules, a teacher must hold a bachelor’s degree and either have obtained full state teacher certification or have passed the state licensing exam and hold a license to teach. The rules also include more specific requirements for elementary teachers and for middle and high school teachers. The requirements for new teachers are somewhat different from those for teachers already in the classroom.

Paraprofessionals supported with Title I funds also now face a higher standard. In general, such aides must have done one of the following: completed at least two years of college; obtained an associate’s degree or higher degree; or passed a state or local evaluation to demonstrate knowledge and ability to assist in teaching reading, writing, and mathematics.

Newly hired aides must meet the requirements immediately; those hired before the law was signed in January must meet them within four years.

Here are some highlights from the draft regulations that seek to clarify issues where, according to the Education Department, the law was ambiguous:


  • The qualification requirements do not apply to a teacher who does not teach a core academic subject, or to a provider hired to meet the law’s mandate on supplemental educational services.

  • By the start of the 2002-03 school year, any teacher supported with Title I money—whether in a targeted-assistance program or in a school where Title I is used for a schoolwide program that is not limited to needy students—must meet the new qualifications.

  • A teacher meets the “alternative route” certification requirements by making satisfactory progress toward full certification as prescribed by the state.

  • For states with probationary, provisional, or initial certification for new teachers, such designations meet the full certification and licensure requirements under federal law.


  • The paraprofessional requirements apply only to those performing instructional-support duties and not to employees performing strictly noninstructional duties.
  • The requirements apply to Title I aides both in targeted-assistance programs and in schoolwide programs.
  • The rules define what constitutes “direct supervision” of paraprofessionals by teachers. The ESEA, to avoid situations in which aides literally take over a class, now requires such supervision.

A version of this article appeared in the August 07, 2002 edition of Education Week as Rules Clarify Changes On Teacher, Paraprofessional Qualifications


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
Strategies for Incorporating SEL into Curriculum
Empower students to thrive. Learn how to integrate powerful social-emotional learning (SEL) strategies into the classroom.
Content provided by Be GLAD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession The NEA Faces an Unexpected Labor Adversary—Its Own Staff Union
Staff for the nation’s largest teachers’ union picketed at its Washington headquarters Thursday, striking for the first time in decades.
3 min read
Staff of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, strike outside the organization's building in Washington on June 20, 2024. The staff union alleges that the NEA violated labor law.
Staff from the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, protest outside the organization's building in Washington, D.C., on June 20, 2024.
Stephen Sawchuk/Education Week
Teaching Profession Teachers Report Lower Pay, More Stress Than Workers in Other Fields
It's yet another warning sign for the beleaguered profession.
4 min read
Teacher working on scheduling at desk.
Teaching Profession Teachers Are Pushing for Paid Parental Leave. How It's Going
Efforts to implement paid parental leave policies are slowly gaining traction, with teachers often advocating on their own behalf.
7 min read
Image of a pregnant person at work.