Skip to Content

Are You a 'Highly Qualified' Paraprofessional?

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as The No Child Left Behind Act, requires all paraprofessionals who provide instructional support, and work in programs funded by Title I, to have a high school diploma (or equivalent) and prove that they are “highly qualified.”

 There are three ways that paraprofessionals may prove that they are highly qualified:

  1. Obtain an associate’s (or higher) degree OR
  2. Complete at least two years of study at an institute of higher education OR
  3. Demonstrate, through a formal state or local academic assessment, knowledge of reading, writing, math, and the ability to assist in instructing these subjects.

States and local school districts have adopted a variety of academic assessments that can fulfill the ESEA requirements by passing a standardized test. These assessments do not necessarily have to be a “paper-and-pencil” test. The ParaPro Assessment is one of many tests that paraprofessionals can take to become highly qualified.

Local school districts may use federal funds to help paraprofessionals meet the new requirements of the federal law.

To review the qualification requirements for your state, visit the NEA’s State Policy Resource Center (EPRC).  


  • anc_dyn_linksESEA and Paraprofessionals