ESSA for Paraeducators
T he Every Student Succeeds Act, passed in 2015 as the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, gives paraeducators* a voice in key decision-making and professional development opportunities at the local, state and federal levels. This is a major improvement over the one-size-fits-all approach of No Child Left Behind, the previous version of ESEA.
*Paraeducators are referred to as paraprofessionals in the new law.
ESSA Paraeducator Empowerment
- Maintains paraeducator qualification requirements in Title I of the current law.
- Requires paraeducator voices in several places in the law, including sections on professional development, needs assessment and the use of some grant funds.
- Provides opportunity through development of local plans to discuss ways in which paraeducators will be able to meet their certification and licensure requirements at the local level — in professional development and tuition reimbursement, for example.
- Requires consultation with organizations representing educators in several places to ensure that paraeducators and their local unions have a say in decision-making.
- Expands the reach of collective bargaining to cover:
- Targeted school supports and improvements in Title I.
- Professional development, pay based on professional growth, the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program (formerly called TIF), and all other provisions of contracts impacted by Title II.
- Community schools in Title IV.