Passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has generated tremendous interest in the standards for employment and training of paraprofessionals. This is often referred to as certification. The AFT has been the leading advocate for establishing state-level certification systems that meet a variety of criteria, outlined below.
A state-level certification system should include the following:
- The requirement of a high school diploma or GED for entry-level positions;
- Guarantees of access to ongoing training, provided by school districts or state agencies, to enable paraprofessionals to meet certification/licensure standards and improve their skills as they advance;
- Definitions of specific competencies for paraprofessionals to achieve; and
- "Hold harmless" provisions for currently employed education paraprofessionals.
National initiatives include:
- A special task force of teachers and paraprofessionals who developed the AFT’s Standards for a Profession.
- Tracking of the status of state-level certification.
- Serving as lead organization on the Education and Training Voluntary Partnership’s grant-funded project to develop Skill Standards for Education Paraprofessionals.