Teacher's assistants are also known as instructional aides or teacher aides. They are found working in a wide variety of settings---preschools, elementary, middle and high schools, child care centers, community centers and religious settings. Private schools are not usually funded by the government but may be affected by federal legislation regarding teacher aide education requirements.
What Teacher Assistants Do
The assistant position is a support role that allows the teacher to allot more time to teaching and planning. Some teacher assistants perform a combination of instructional and non-instructional duties. Non-instructional duties such as monitoring and supervising students, recording student data, tracking classroom supplies and performing other clerical tasks may be included in a teacher assistant's job description. The U.S. Department of Education refers to teacher assistants as teacher's aides, which falls under the Department's designation of a paraprofessional.
A teacher assistant should have a high school diploma. Classroom equipment is usually the domain of a teacher's assistant and may require previous knowledge or instruction before operation. Basic computer skills, record keeping and record management skills are generally required. Some states will call for previous experience working with children, a background check, a drivers license and possible certification. For example, California requires a Child Development Assistant Permit. This includes proof of a high school diploma and the completion of six education units in early childhood development.
Instructional Assistants Education
The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA) requires proof of qualifications for paraprofessionals working one-on-one with students. The Act requires teacher paraprofessionals performing instruction and working for a Title I-funded school to have at least two years of higher education, obtain an associate's degree or higher or pass a state or local assessment test that qualifies their reading, writing and math skills. This qualification includes some types of tutors, paraprofessionals managing parental activities, those assisting in computer labs, libraries and media centers or acting as a translator.
NCLBA And Private Schools
Teacher assistants in private schools may also be affected by requirements other than those demanded by the state or their own school administration. The NCLBA requires teaching assistants working for a private school but paid through a local education agency with Title I funds to fulfill the same requirements as Title I paraprofessionals.
Qualifying For Advancement
Advancement and better earnings come from experience coupled with further education. Teaching Assistant Certification programs are way to achieve this. Workforce programs or community colleges often offer this type of certification. Rhode Island offers such program. Its entry requirement includes a high school diploma or a GED, the completion of an associates degree or two years of higher education and the completion of the state's own training program.