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Highly Qualified Paraprofessionals

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 specifies new employment requirements for instructional paraprofessionals working in PK-12 Title I programs. These requirements demand higher levels of education for instructional paraprofessionals working in Title I schools.

Required Qualifications, Skills, and Knowledge

Instructional paraprofessionals must possess specific skills and knowledge in reading, writing, mathematics and instruction to be considered qualified to assist in instruction. NCLB outlines requirements that instructional paraprofessionals must meet:

  1. Possess a high school diploma or its equivalent (e.g., the GED); AND
  2. Demonstrate subject matter competency by:

    1. Earning an Associate’s (or higher) degree; OR
    2. Completing at least two years (48 credit hours) of study at an institution of higher education; OR
    3. Passing a formal state or local assessment measuring one’s knowledge of and ability to assist classroom teachers in reading, writing and mathematics.

Colorado’s Assessment Guidelines for Paraprofessionals

  • These requirements apply to all instructional paraprofessionals (including those who work with students with disabilities as tutors or aides) carrying out instructional duties in a school-wide program, regardless of whether the positions are funded with federal, state or local funds. In a school-wide program, Title I funds support all teachers and instructional paraprofessionals, by definition.
  • In a targeted assistance program, only instructional paraprofessionals who are paid with Title I funds must meet the requirements listed above. Again, this applies to paraprofessionals who work with students with disabilities if their positions are wholly or partially funded by Title I.

Instructional Paraprofessional

An instructional paraprofessional is an individual who provides instruction and support for classroom teachers. Aides, assistants or tutors who engage in instructional support are considered to be instructional paraprofessionals as defined by NCLB. Individuals who work solely in non-instructional roles, such as food service, cafeteria or playground supervision, personal care services and non-instructional computer assistance are not considered to be paraprofessionals under Title I.

The following two categories of paraprofessionals need only to possess a high school diploma or equivalent and are not required to meet the additional requirements listed in above:

  • Paraprofessionals in Title I programs who serve primarily as translators (as long as these paraprofessionals are proficient in English and a language other than English); and
  • Paraprofessionals working solely on parental involvement activities.

Responsibilities of Instructional Paraprofessionals

Section 1119 (g) of ESEA specifies that instructional paraprofessionals may engage in the following activities:

  • Provide one-on-one tutoring for eligible students, if the tutoring is scheduled at a time when a student would not otherwise receive instruction from a teacher
  • Assist with classroom management, such as organizing instructional and other materials
  • Provide assistance in a computer laboratory
  • Provide instructional support in a library or media center
  • Provide instructional services to students under the direct supervision of a teacher

Note: All instructional paraprofessionals must be supervised directly by highly qualified teachers; instructional paraprofessionals cannot be supervised by a peer or group of peers.

Additional Resources


For Additional Information Contact:

Jennifer Phillips Simons
303-866-3905
send an email

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