FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 16, 2003
Teacher Aides get draft guidance for meeting
requirements of federal No Child Left Behind Law
districts will soon get draft guidance from the State Board
of Education on ways that current teacher aides can meet the
requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law.
signed into law by President Bush January 8 of 2002, requires
paraprofessionals with teaching duties hired after that date
to meet specific qualifications outlined in the law. All paraprofessionals
with teaching duties must meet the new requirements by January
2006. The draft guidance that the State Board approved for
distribution to school districts outlines short-term and long-term
procedures for teacher aides to meet the NCLB requirements.
establishes three ways that teacher aides may meet the qualifications
in the law:
Complete at least two years of postsecondary study at an
institution of higher education (60 semester hours) or
Obtain at least an associate's degree, or
Meet a rigorous standard of quality and demonstrate, through
a formal State and local academic assessment, the knowledge
of and ability to assist in the instruction of reading,
writing and mathematics or reading readiness, writing readiness
and mathematics readiness.
to NCLB, teacher aides in Illinois were required to complete
at least 30 semester hours of college credit in a recognized
institution of higher education. Illinois must now align its
requirements with those established by No Child Left Behind.
enable teacher aides to meet the NCLB requirements, the State
Board is collaborating with the Illinois Board of Higher Education
and the Illinois Community College Board on a long-term strategy
to establish a statewide training curriculum using paraprofessional
standards developed by the American Federation of Teachers.
When completed, the curriculum will lead to an Associate of
Applied Science degree and recognition as a Paraprofessional
model curriculum was recommended by a Paraprofessional Task
Force that includes representatives of community colleges,
regional offices of education, Title 1 paraprofessionals,
Title 1 teachers, the Illinois Education Association, the
Illinois Federation of Teachers, teacher preparation colleges
and universities, Community College Board staff and State
Board staff. Plans call for the training program to be available
this year, presented for approval of the State Board of Education,
the Community College Board and the Board of Higher Education
in the spring of 2003.
short-term solution recommended by the State Board for current
teacher aides and the districts that employ them is an assessment
to measure the knowledge and skills needed by paraprofessionals.
The "ParaPro" assessment has been developed by the
Educational Testing Service to measure the classroom skills
of teacher aides and would be accepted by the State Board
as meeting the requirements of NCLB. The WorkKeys assessment,
developed by the American College Testing Service, Inc. (ACT)
will be considered for acceptance when the State Board is
able to verify that it aligns with the NCLB requirement on
the assessment of "the ability to assist in instruction."
also provides for a local assessment option, and the State
Board will adopt the United States Department of Education
guidelines for local assessment and require that districts
adhere to these criteria and submit assurance statements to
the agency if the district chooses this option.
administrators report that many teacher aides have acquired
the 30-hour approval, but most do not meet the requirements
of NCLB. Special education aides typically have fewer than
30 hours since they have not been required to obtain that
approval. Precise data on the number of approvals issued are
not available, but State Board staff estimate that 8,000 to
9,000 teacher aides would be affected by the NCLB requirements.
offices of education, community colleges and teachers' unions
have indicated they are prepared to provide mentoring classes
and workshops for teacher aides to assist them in preparing
for a paraprofessional assessment.
State Board will distribute this guidance to school districts
to help them and their paraprofessional staff members prepare
to meet NCLB requirements by the statutory timelines. State
Board staff will contact the Educational Testing Service to
begin the standards-setting process and convene a standards-setting
panel to advise on acceptable scoring. Subject to recommendations
from that panel, staff will report back to the State Teacher
Certification Board and the State Board in March for final