ESEA Information Kit

Para Issues

NEA has just obtained a recent letter that ED sent to Chief State School Officers concerning ESEA rules for paras. Essentially it provides “current thinking” on paras and states.

Here are the key points:

  • In schoolwide Title I programs, all paras with instructional duties are covered by the new NCLB standards, regardless of whether the individual para’s salary is paid by Title I.
  • However, the new para standards do not apply to paras in non-instructional capacities, including translation, parental involvement activities, food service, cafeteria/playground supervision, personal care services, and non-instructional computer assistance.
  • ALL paras in a Title I supported program must have a HS diploma (previous ESEA did not require paras who work as translators to have a HS diploma). This requirement affects all paras regardless of duties and regardless of hiring date.
  • Title I and Title II funds may be used to help paras meet the new requirements.

ESEA and Teacher Assistants

NCAE would like to be a clearinghouse
NCAE is interested in how North Carolina’s local school systems are implementing the new ESEA standards as they affect Title I teacher assistants. As we hear from our local unit presidents, we will post this information on this site as a clearinghouse. If your local does not appear, please contact your local unit president and tell him/her that you would like your information posted on NCAE’s site.

NCAE Overview of the TA situation:
NCAE is concerned about the consequences of this new Federal Mandate, as are our Members, the DPI staff, and the State School Board Members.

The new federal mandate states that paraprofessionals (ESP, TA’s) who work in a Title I School, and/or are paid with Title I funds must have two years’ college experience, or a two-year degree, or pass an assessment.

  • TA’s who were hired prior to January 8, 2002, have four years to meet the new federal mandate.
  • TA’s hired after January 8, 2002, must have a two-year degree or 2 years of college.

The assessment for TA’s has not yet been developed. Below are some options which have been discussed, but about which nothing has been decided (a task force and/or committee to help establish the guidelines will be established by DPI). NCAE president Carolyn McKinney has made it clear to DPI that NCAE should have representatives on the committee/task force.

Options for assessing TA’s we have heard (but as stated before, nothing has been finalized!)

  • The DPI will develop guidelines and each LEA will decide what type of assessment will be administered to TA’s. (Scary–we do not need 117 assessments. How would TA’s transferred to other LEA’s be affected?
  • The DPI will suggest a menu of assessment options. Each LEA will have the right to select from the menu.
  • The Praxis I has been mentioned–it was suggested by other states at a national meeting, not by a DPI staff person.

Earning a two-year degree

  • The federal mandate does not state what type of degree — so the degree does not necessarily have to be in an educational field.
  • Some LEA’s are already working with community colleges to see if they will offer classes that will be useful and convenient for TA’s. Some community colleges are working on creating online course wrk that could be done from school and/or home.
  • Some LEA’s are going to offer scholarships for TA’s pursuing the degree and once completed will move the TA up one step in pay.

Whatever the state decides in regard to class work and/or assessments, NCAE will offer support to Ta’s who are preparing for an assessment. We will offer support regionally, locally, and/or statewide.
A memo sent out by DPI on January 16th stated the following – which NCAE had alerted members and staff to in the SBE Review and the web page linking the ESEA legislation.

Taken from the 1/16/02 DPI Memo:

“HR1, The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, was passed by Congress last month. President Bush signed the legislation into law on January 8, 2002. The act is now law and will have far reaching implications for schools in many areas.
New hiring qualifications for paraprofessional employees (TAs) are of immediate concern. Any new paraprofessional hired in schools receiving Title I funds after January 8th, must meet the new qualifications. Paraprofessionals must have completed two years of higher education, or completed an associate degree, or pass a yet-to-be determined formal assessment.

  • For school wide (Title I) schools this requirement is in place regardless of the source of funds used to pay paraprofessionals.
  • For targeted Assistance schools, this requirement is in place for only paraprofessionals paid with Title I funds.
  • The only exception to this requirement are the paraprofessionals whose sole duties are conducting parent involvement activities or those who are proficient in ESL and act as a translator.

As paraprofessional positions are filled for the remainder of the 2001-2002 school year – administrators must ensure that the new qualifications for employment are met. There are additional components to this legislation regarding employment of paraprofessionals. We will send these details to the LEA personnel administrators and finance officers in subsequent communications.”

Below is the information NCAE provided members January 10th via the SBE Review regarding the ESEA and TAs.

  • Title I Paraprofessionals Qualifications – NEW Requirements by the Federal Government will affect about 300 ESPs in 1030 North Carolina schools.
  • As of January 8, 2002, all NEW hires must have:
    • 2 years higher education or an Associate degree or passed a formal assessment developed by each state
  • ESP hired before January 8, 2002 have four years to meet these new requirements.
  • ESP that help with translation programs or parent involvement are exempted.
  • NC is one of 7 states considered an “Edflex” State and can ask for an extension on this component.

For background information