How to Become a Paraprofessional in Texas

Paraprofessional working with a student

Are you considering a career in education? Becoming a paraprofessional, also known as an educational aide, can be a fulfilling and impactful way to contribute to students’ academic success.

In Texas, becoming a certified educational aide could involve meeting specific requirements or passing required tests. Let’s examine the process in depth.

1. Understanding the Role of Paraprofessionals

Paraprofessionals play an essential role in assisting with the instructional needs of students. They are dedicated professionals who work with certified teachers to support students at every level and in specialized programs. Their duties encompass a broad spectrum of tasks that promote student success and improve the learning experience. From providing follow-up instruction and assessing student progress to assisting with classroom management, paraprofessionals are invaluable to the education community.

2. Educational Aide Certification Requirements

There are three levels of Educational Aide certification in Texas, and each has a few requirements that must be met. Let’s take a look at each level’s requirements:

Educational Aide I

To become an EA 1, you must be a high school graduate or hold a General Educational Development (GED) certificate. You must also have experience working with students or parents. This experience may include work in church-related schools, day camps, youth groups, private schools, licensed day-care centers, or similar experiences.

Educational Aide II

To become an EA II, you must meet the same requirements as EA I, but also one of the following:

  • have two creditable years of experience as an Educational Aide I 
  • have a minimum of 15 semester hours of college credit with some emphasis on child growth and development or related subject areas
  • have demonstrated proficiency in a specialized skill area as determined by the local school district

Educational Aide III

And lastly, to become an EA III, you must meet the same requirements as EA I, but also one of the following:

  • have three creditable years of experience as either an Educational Aide I or II
  • have 30 semester hours of college credit with some emphasis on child growth and development or related subject areas

3. Navigating Title I, Part A Paraprofessional Requirements

Meeting specific qualifications is crucial for paraprofessionals whose positions are paid for by Title I, Part A funds. These qualifications are a little different than the requirements of becoming an Educational Aide. According to ESSA, the Every Student Succeeds Act, Title 1, Part A paraprofessionals who provide instructional support must have a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent and meet one of the following requirements:

  • Complete at least two years of college coursework
  • Hold an associate degree (or higher)
  • Demonstrate proficiency in instructional areas by passing an assessment

Additionally, Title 1, Part A paraprofessionals must obtain the Educational Aide certification within the first year of employment to effectively fulfill their roles and responsibilities and stay in compliance with the state.

Region 13 can help you meet these requirements! Earn your Educational Aide Certification online or in person through our three-day certification program!

4. Initiating the Application Process

All prospective paraprofessionals must first be employed by a school district before being eligible to apply for an Educational Aide certificate. Once employed and advised by the district, they can set up their online TEAL and ECOS accounts to initiate the application process.

The school district will then recommend that the application be issued by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), streamlining the certification process and ensuring compliance with state regulations.

5. Educational Aide Certification for High School Students

High school students can also pursue the Educational Aide I certificate.  The requirements include being 18 years of age and having a final grade of 70 or higher in two or more education and training courses outlined by the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC). They will also be required to complete a criminal history review just as any educator would.

6. Applying for a New Certificate

Educational Aide certificates expire after two years. Paraprofessionals will need to apply for a new Educational Aide certificate every two years to maintain their credentials. This can be done online through the TEAL and ECOS accounts, just as it was for the initial certificate.

7. Fostering Professional Growth and Development

Becoming a paraprofessional is not just about meeting certification requirements; it’s also about embracing opportunities for ongoing professional growth and development. Paraprofessionals can benefit from workshops and training sessions that will enhance their skills and effectiveness in supporting student learning. ESC Region 13 has a multitude of monthly trainings on everything from behavior support to reading instruction. If you’re passionate about fostering student success and making a difference in education, consider taking the first step towards becoming an educational aide today!

Megan is an Online Learning Specialist for Educator Certification at ESC Region 13.

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