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Paraprofessional Guidance

Federal Law

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015 defers teacher and paraprofessional qualification requirements in Title I programs to applicable State law. [1] [2]

Colorado Law

No qualification or credentialing requirements for paraprofessionals or teaching assistants have been written into Colorado law. Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and charter schools have discretion in setting local hiring policies for these positions. [3]

Recommended Best Practice

In order to promote providing the highest possible quality support for students, the Colorado Department of Education recommends that LEAs and charter schools adopt local hiring policies that set requirements for paraprofessionals equivalent or similar to those outlined below.

Sample Local Requirements
Instructional paraprofessionals should possess specific skills and knowledge in reading, writing, mathematics and instruction to serve in schools supported by Title I, Part A funds.  At a minimum, Title I, Part A instructional paraprofessionals should:

1.Possess a high school diploma or its equivalent (e.g., the GED); and

2.Demonstrate subject matter competency by:

a. Earning an Associate’s (or higher) degree; or

b. Completing at least two years (48 credit hours) of study at an institution of higher education; or

c. Passing a formal assessment measuring one’s knowledge of and ability to assist classroom teachers in reading, writing and mathematics.

Formal assessments should be valid and reliable.  An assessment is valid if it measures mathematics, reading, and writing content at a level equivalent to the knowledge obtained by attending two years of college and is applicable to duties being assigned to the paraprofessional.  An assessment is reliable if it provides consistent results.  An LEA may develop its own assessment.  Existing assessments that are valid and reliable for the purposes of assessing paraprofessionals’ subject matter competency are the ACT-Work Keys and ETS-ParaPro assessments.

Instructional paraprofessionals should be supervised directly by a licensed teacher.  An instructional paraprofessional is an individual who provides instruction and support for classroom teachers.  The following activities are recommended as appropriate job duties of an instructional paraprofessional:

  • 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
Image shows the various paths to meet the 2 recommended paraprofessional qualifications.

For Additional Information Contact:

ESEA Regional Contacts or Email the ESEA Programs Office 


[1] ESSA Sec. 1112 (b)(6): Each local educational agency plan shall provide assurances that the LEA will…ensure that all teachers and paraprofessionals working in a program supported with funds under [Title I, Part A] meet applicable State certification and licensure requirements, including any requirements for certification obtained through alternative routes to certification.

[2] ESSA Sec. 1111(g)(2)(M): Each State plan shall contain assurances that…the State has professional standards for paraprofessionals working in a program supported with funds under this part, including qualifications that were in place on the day before the date of enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

[3] C.R.S. 23-1-121.7 (1, e-g)