Rhode Island Stiffens NCLB Requirements for Teacher Aides
Ohanian Comment: Someone hsould ask Sen. Gallo if she also introduced legislation to raise the pay of teachers' aides.
PROVIDENCE -- Teachers' aides will have to meet a much more rigorous set of criteria if they want to continue to work in the classroom, because of legislation passed by the General Assembly Wednesday night.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Hanna M. Gallo, D-Cranston, on behalf of the state Department of Education, will bring Rhode Island into compliance with the federal 2001 education law, No Child Left Behind.
The federal act requires that teachers' aides who work in Title 1 programs complete two years of college, hold an associate's degree or pass a test that demonstrates a reasonable knowledge of reading, writing and math. Title 1 is a federal program that provides money to schools with large numbers of low-income students.
Rhode Island's bill goes further than the federal law by requiring that all instructional aides, regardless of whether they teach in Title 1 programs, pass the state test.
New teachers' aides -- those hired after the law took effect in January 2002 -- must pass the test by September, according to both the Gallo bill and No Child Left Behind. Everyone else must meet one of the criteria by January 2006.
The legislation only affects those who work in the classroom as instructional aides; it does not apply to assistants who, for example, monitor the playground or the cafeteria.
"As a parent and a professional in the Rhode Island school system, I understand the crucial service that many teacher assistants provide," Gallo said. "I also know how taxing and demanding the job can be, and that's why I introduced this legislation."
Gallo also serves on the state Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education.
Raising the bar for teachers' aides is part of a larger goal, proposed by President Bush and passed by Congress, to boost teaching standards nationwide. Some states didn't require aides to have a high school diploma, leading some educators to question whether those assistants were hurting rather than helping children.
Rhode Island, unlike many states, already requires all new hires to take a 30-hour training program taught by the Community College of Rhode Island, regional collaboratives and school districts.
Teachers' aides face stricter guidelines
July 4, 2003
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