TeacherAidSPRINGFIELD – Paraprofessionals in schools help provide students with one-on-one or small group assistance and support teachers in the classroom. Thanks to a new law sponsored by State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago), more paraprofessionals will be able to get into classrooms earlier.

“With more than 2,000 unfilled teacher aid and paraprofessional positions, it’s critical we open the door to this profession to as many qualified candidates as possible,” Pacione-Zayas said. “By lowering the required age for this profession in some classrooms, we can help students get the individualized assistance they may need.”

The new law, formerly known as Senate Bill 3988, lowers the age for paraprofessionals in Pre-K through eighth grade classrooms to 18 years old. People applying for these positions must still meet all other qualifications, including education requirements and passing a paraprofessional competency test. 

According to the Illinois State Board of Education, the number of unfilled paraprofessional positions in school districts across the state nearly doubled from 2021 to 2022. There were 1,237 unfilled positions last year compared to 2,397 this year, making this legislation more important than ever.

“The majority of schools are reporting a lack of qualified applicants as the primary cause for these vacancies,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Allowing more people to apply for these positions will inevitably lead to more qualified candidates, which is vital to getting paraprofessionals into classrooms.”

The new law was signed Wednesday, and it goes into effect immediately.

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Springfield Office:
M120 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8191
 
District Office:
3140 W. Montrose
Chicago, IL 60618
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