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Paraprofessional

Requirements for paraprofessionals pursuant to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

 

Introduction

This web page includes information and guidance for paraprofessionals, local educational agencies that employ paraprofessionals, and the families of children served by paraprofessionals. For specific information related to Special Education settings, contact the Special Education Division at specedinfoshare@cde.ca.gov.  

  • Paraprofessionals, also known as paraeducators, teacher aides, or instructional aides, are an important component of California’s education system. A paraprofessional includes an instructional aide as defined in subdivision (a) of California Education Code (EC) Section 45343 and a teacher aide as described in EC Section 45360.
  • The term, ‘‘paraprofessional,’’ means an individual who is employed in a preschool, elementary school, or secondary school under the supervision of a certified or licensed teacher, including individuals employed in language instruction educational programs, special education, and migrant education (Every Student Succeeds Act [ESSA] Section 3201, 20 United States Code [U.S.C.] Section 7011[11]). The term, ‘‘paraprofessional,” also known as ‘‘paraeducator,’’ includes an education assistant and instructional assistant (ESSA Section 3201, 20 U.S.C. 8108[37]).
  • A paraprofessional shall perform only duties that, in the judgment of the certificated personnel to whom the instructional aide is assigned, may be performed by a person not licensed as a classroom teacher. These duties shall not include assignment of grades to pupils (EC Section 45330[b]).
  • A paraprofessional is considered non-instructional if the paraprofessional:
    • Acts only as a translator of non-academic, teaching or learning activities such as translating a report card to a parent, or translating lunch line etiquette-to enhance the participation of English learners or students with disabilities;
    • Has instructional-support duties that consist solely of conducting parental involvement activities; or
    • Has only non-instructional duties, including providing technical support for computers, providing personal care duties, or performing clerical duties (20 U.S.C. Section 1119[e], 34 Code of Federal Regulations Section 200.58).

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Paraprofessional Requirements

This page contains information regarding the licensure requirements for paraprofessionals. For specific information related to Special Education settings, contact the Special Education Division at specedinfoshare@cde.ca.gov.

Paraprofessional Requirements Under the Every Student Succeeds Act
September 2017 letter to update the field regarding paraprofessional requirements under Every Student Succeeds Act.

Non-Title I Paraprofessional Requirements

Paraprofessionals employed at non-Title I schools must do the following:

  • Have a high school diploma or the equivalent, and
  • Pass a local assessment of knowledge and skills in assisting in instruction
    (This is a locally approved assessment. Local educational agencies may develop their own assessment or use an existing assessment so long as it measures the knowledge and skills in assisting in instruction. Many districts use the California Basic Educational Skills Test [CBEST] for this purpose.) (California Education Code [EC] Section 45330, 20 United States Code [U.S.C.], Section 1112[c][6]).

Local educational agencies may also have specific requirements for employment.

Title I Paraprofessional Requirements

These requirements apply to paraprofessionals who are employed at a Title I school, regardless of the paraprofessional funding (EC Section 45330, 20 U.S.C. Section 1112[c][6])

Title I paraprofessionals whose duties include instructional support must have:

  • High school diploma or the equivalent, and
  • Two years of college (48 units), or
  • A. A. degree (or higher), or
  • Pass a local assessment of knowledge and skills in assisting in instruction.
    (This is a locally approved assessment. Local educational agencies may develop their own assessment or use an existing assessment so long as it measures the knowledge and skills in assisting in instruction. Many districts use the CBEST for this purpose). 
  • Local educational agencies may also have specific requirements for employment.

Title III Paraprofessional Requirements

Title III paraprofessionals must meet all Title I requirements with the following exceptions:

  • Paraprofessionals who act primarily as translators and are proficient in English and another language other than English (EC Section 45401); or
  • Paraprofessionals who serve primarily as parental involvement specialists (Title I U.S.C. Section 1119[e]).
  • Local educational agencies may also have specific requirements for employment.

Non-Instructional Paraprofessionals

Individuals who work in food services, cafeteria or playground supervision, personal care services, non-instructional computer assistance, and similar positions do not have to meet these requirements (United States Department of Education: Title I Paraprofessionals Non-Regulatory Guidance; 34 Code of Federal Regulations Section 200.58).


 

How to Become a Paraprofessional

All paraprofessionals with the exceptions outlined in Title III must demonstrate proficiency in reading, writing, and mathematics skills up to or exceeding that required by high school seniors. Contact local educational agency employers for their specific requirements and to apply for paraprofessional jobs. Many local employers in California post openings on the website, EdJoin External link opens in new window or tab.. For more detailed information, please see the “Requirements” section of this web page.

Paraprofessionals may have various education and experience requirements depending on their funding source.  

Paraeducator Pathways to Becoming a Teacher

  • Teach California External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)—A paraeducator’s guide to becoming a special educator in California
  • California Classified School Employee Teacher Credentialing Program—This grant program is providing $20 million from the 2017–18 school year through the 2020–21 school year to create the California Classified School Employee Teacher Credentialing Program. The program provides funds to school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to support classified school employees in completing an undergraduate degree and a teacher preparation program so that they can become teachers. The program awards up to 1,000 grants of $4,000 per participant per year. Over 50 districts and county offices of education currently have funding; for more information see the grantees listed in this report External link opens in new window or tab..

For information about other state-funded grant programs for earning a teaching credential, see the Commission on Teacher Credentialing’s web page External link opens in new window or tab. and the California Student Aid Commission’s web page External link opens in new window or tab..

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Organizations and Partnerships

Organizations at the state and national level that provide resources for paraeducators.

Training Opportunities and Professional Development

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Resources

Information and resources to support the paraprofessionals. For specific information related to Special Education settings, contact the Special Education Division at specedinfoshare@cde.ca.gov.

Resources

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Questions: Teacher & Leader Policy Office | TLPO@cde.ca.gov | 916-445-7331 
Last Reviewed: Thursday, August 20, 2020
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