Win Extra Time to Qualify
Ben Feller, Associated Press, June 15, 2005
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under federal pressure to prove they are qualified to stay in
the classroom, will get extra time to comply under a new
Education Department policy.
To keep their jobs, aides in schools that receive federal
poverty aid have been told to become highly qualified by January
2006 -- marking four years since Congress passed the No Child
Left Behind law. That deadline, set in the law, applies to aides
hired before the law passed.
Now the time frame for aides to get qualified will be pushed
back to the end of the 2005-06 school year, the same deadline
for teachers in poor schools to prove their qualifications.
Deputy Secretary Ray Simon said Wednesday it was unusual to have
a deadline for aides that fell in the middle of the school year
and that differed from the teachers' deadline.
In a letter to Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, who sought the
extended deadline, Simon said the idea was reasonable and he
confirmed his agency would give aides the extra time.
Simpson said he was grateful for the change.
The American Federation of Teachers, whose members include
instructional aides, had also sought the change in a letter to
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. The union's president,
Edward McElroy, said it was "simply a matter of fairness."
To be deemed highly qualified, aides, or paraprofessionals, must
compile at least two years of college study or earn at least an
associate's degree. Their other option is to pass a test proving
their knowledge of reading, writing and math and their ability
to help teach.
Newly hired aides must have such qualifications before they can
get the jobs.
Overall, roughly 1 million teacher aides help run the nation's
classrooms. They work with students individually, reinforce the
teacher's lessons and help keep order in class.
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