Teaching assistants are invaluable to classrooms in the United States. The U.S. Department of Education has guidelines for teaching assistant qualifications relating to education, duties and background checks. The government mandated these minimum qualifications and standards in 2001 as part of the No Child Left Behind Act.
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Teaching assistants, also called paraprofessionals, must meet certain education requirements, although school districts may have higher requirements. In addition to receiving a high school diploma or equivalent, teaching assistants must have completed two years of courses at an accredited institution of higher learning or have an associate's degree.
It is possible to receive the necessary qualifications to be a teaching assistant through a paraprofessional certification program. Teaching assistants are required to demonstrate an ability to assist classroom teachers with grade appropriate reading, writing and mathematics instruction. Many state and local institutions offer training and certification programs for teaching assistants.
Most local school districts conduct a criminal history check and require fingerprinting of all teaching assistants. Some schools also require a valid driver's license.
The No Child Left Behind Act stipulates the duties that teaching assistants must be qualified to conduct. For schools receiving government funds, the responsibilities of teaching assistants include providing one-on-one tutoring, assisting with classroom management, assisting students in the computer lab and library, providing instructional services, conducting parental involvement activities, or acting as a translator.
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