No Child Left Behind and Paraprofessionals:

Are They Perceived To Be Highly Qualified?


Heather G. Nelson, Betty Y. Ashbaker, and Shannon Coetzee
Counseling Psychology and Special Education Department
Brigham Young University

Jill Morgan
Swansea Institute of Higher Education
Swansea, Wales, UK


The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 introduced new requirements for paraprofessionals, specifying criteria for them to achieve “highly qualified” status. This article describes a study which explored the perceptions of teachers and paraprofessional teams as to whether the paraprofessionals would be considered “highly qualified” and more specifically whether they were trained for and competent in carrying out various instructional duties. The results of the study suggest that the NCLB requirements may be poorly understood; even by some of those who already meet the requirements. Furthermore, results indicate that teacher-paraprofessional pairs do not necessarily agree on the extent to which the paraprofessionals are considered trained and competent.

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