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INFORMATIONAL LETTER:  97

 

POLICY CODE:  CGD/GDA

 

 

TO:                  Superintendents of Schools, Principals, and No Child Left Behind Act Contacts

 

FROM:            Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner

 

DATE:             March 26, 2004

 

RE:                   U.S. Department of Education Releases New Guidance, March 1, 2004:  Highly Qualified Paraprofessionals Requirements

 

 

In September 2003, I advised you that the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA) of 2001 included requirements for paraprofessionals.  The requirements apply to each Local Education Agency (LEA) receiving assistance under Title I, Part A.  LEAs are required to ensure that all paraprofessionals (Educational Technicians) hired after January 8, 2002, and who provide instructional support in a program supported with funding under Title I meet one of the following “Highly Qualified” requirements, as stated in November 2002 guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Education:

 

  1. Hold an Associate’s degree or higher; or
  2. Have sixty (60) semester hours, (the equivalent of two years of college study) from an accredited two-year and/or four-year college(s) or university(ies); or
  3. Achieve the qualifying score on the “ParaPro” assessment.

 

On March 1, 2004, the U.S. Department of Education released revised guidance related to paraprofessional requirements.  This guidance amends the definition of “two years of college study,” previously defined as 60 credit hours, to 48 credit hours.  This amendment was made in response to the manner in which many colleges and universities define a year of college study.  For many colleges and universities, one year or two semesters equals 24 credit hours.  Two years of study at such an institution would equal 48 credit hours.

 

The revised requirements for paraprofessionals as amended March 1, 2004 are:

 

1.      Hold an Associate’s degree or higher; or

2.      Have forty-eight (48) semester hours (the equivalent of two years of college study) from an accredited two-year and/or four-year college(s) or university(ies); or

3.      Achieve the qualifying score on the “ParaPro” assessment.

 

All paraprofessionals hired before January 8, 2002, and providing instructional support in a program supported with Title I funds must satisfy the requirement by January 8, 2006.  The requirement applies to an Educational Technician whose position is funded by Title I funds, and to any Educational Technician employed in a school wide Title I program, regardless of the source of the funding of the particular position.

 

These requirements DO NOT apply to paraprofessionals working primarily as translators, or solely on parental involvement activities.  Also, 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 for Title I purposes.

 

The NCLBA requirements do not allow for waivers, and the law does not allow for a delay in implementation.  Therefore, I recommend that you encourage all Educational Technicians needing to meet this requirement to begin to do so as soon as possible.

 

Please be reminded that Title I and Title II funds may be used for ongoing training and professional development to help paraprofessionals meet the statutory requirements.

 

I previously requested that each LEA designate a NCLBA contact person and submit the name and contact information to the Department.  If you have not yet designated a NCLBA contact for your paraprofessionals, please do so as soon as possible.  You should direct this information to Anne Wehrman, Distinguished Educator for NCLBA, Paraprofessionals, (207) 624-6603 or by email:  anne.wehrman@maine.gov

 

SAG/JM/rac