P.O. BOX 2120




July 30, 2004




Division Superintendents



Jo Lynne DeMary

Superintendent of Public Instruction



Highly Qualified Paraprofessionals


Title I, Part A, of the Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, requires that paraprofessionals meet high standards of qualification. For the purposes of Title I, Part A, a paraprofessional is an employee of a local education agency who provides instructional support in a program supported with Title I, Part A funds. Individuals who work in food services, cafeteria or playground supervision, personal care services, noninstructional computer assistance, and similar positions are not considered paraprofessionals under Title I, Part A.


All paraprofessionals hired after the date of enactment (January 8, 2002), of the NCLB legislation and working in a program supported with funds under Title I, Part A, must meet the federal definition of a highly qualified paraprofessional. Title I paraprofessionals hired on or before January 8, 2002, must meet these requirements by

January 8, 2006.


All Title I paraprofessionals must have a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent. Additionally, paraprofessionals have the following three options to meet the designation of highly qualified:


1.  Completed two years of study at an institution of higher education; OR

2.  Obtained an associates (or higher) degree; OR

3.  Met a rigorous standard of quality and be able to demonstrate, through a formal state or local academic assessment, knowledge of and the ability to assist in instructing, reading, writing, and mathematics (or, as appropriate, reading readiness, writing, readiness, and mathematics readiness).


The NCLB legislation does not require that paraprofessionals take a specified course of study for the first two options. The Virginia Department of Education will not require specific courses for meeting the two years of study at an institution of higher education or the specific major or coursework for the associate degree.


On March 26, 2003, the Board of Education approved the Parapro assessment as the formal state academic paraprofessional assessment. The established qualifying score for the test approved by the board is 455. School boards also have the option of approving a local assessment. The Parapro assessment is reciprocal among school divisions; however an individual meeting the highly qualified definition by taking a local assessment is considered highly qualified only in that school division.


Licenses or certificates are not issued by the Board of Education or the Department of Education for paraprofessionals meeting the requirement of highly qualified. School divisions may issue a certificate documenting that the paraprofessional has successfully completed one of the three options required for the highly qualified designation. Even though the Department of Education will not issue a license or certificate to paraprofessionals, the department collects and reports information on paraprofessionals annually as required by the federal law.


Baseline data for the 2002-03 school year collected on the Instructional Personnel Report indicated that 24 percent of the instructional paraprofessionals supported by Title I,

Part A funds were highly qualified. The annual objectives established for paraprofessionals for Virginia and school divisions to ensure that all Title I instructional paraprofessionals are highly qualified by January 8, 2006, are as follows:


2002-03 (Baseline) 24 percent

2003-04 (Target) 40 percent

2004-05 (Target) 75 percent

2005-06 (Target) 100 percent


Virginia exceeded the 40 percent target for the 2003-04 school year. Based on data school divisions submitted for the Instructional Personnel Report, 53.62 percent of

Title I Instructional Personnel were highly qualified in the 2003-04 school year.


Please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Thomas A. Elliott, assistant superintendent for teacher education and licensure, ( or Mrs. Patty Pitts, director of professional licensure, ( at (804) 371-2522 if you have any questions regarding the highly qualified designation for Title I paraprofessionals.