Paraprofessionals – Treatment of Artists – NCLB Policy Letters to States

Mr. John J. Mahlmann
Executive Director
The National Association for Music Education
1806 Robert Fulton Drive
Reston, VA 20191

Dear Mr. Mahlmann:

This is in response to your letter seeking guidance on the paraprofessional education provisions of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as amended by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, as they relate to artists who deliver instruction in public schools. Specifically, you requested guidance as to whether artists who deliver instruction in public schools need to meet paraprofessional qualification requirements and whether the treatment of artists as paraprofessionals applies to all artists who have instructional duties in programs supported by Federal funds, regardless of the source of those artists’ salaries.

The question of whether an artist working in a school is a teacher or a paraprofessional and, if so, whether the artist must meet qualification requirements can only be answered based on the specific circumstances of each artist’s individual situation. A local school district would need to make this determination consistent with the statute, regulations, and guidance.

For example, factors that determine whether an artist working in a school needs to meet teacher qualification requirements include (1) whether the artist is hired as the classroom teacher for a specific art course or is only to provide enrichment activities, (2) whether the artist is an employee of the district, and (3) whether the specific subject being taught is included in the State’s definition of “the arts” as a core academic subject. (States have the flexibility to define “the arts” for the purposes of determining if a particular art is considered a “core academic subject” under the statute in the State). Factors that determine whether such an artist might be a “paraprofessional” include (1) whether the individual is performing duties as described in Section 200.59 of the Title I regulations (www.ed.gov , (2) whether the individual works in a program supported with Title I funds as defined in Section 200.58 of the regulations, and (3) whether the individual is an employee of the school district.

Certainly, an artist hired by a school district to be the “music” or “visual arts” teacher in a State which has defined music or the visual arts as core academic subjects must meet

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teacher qualification requirements. However, I suspect that in most cases where an artist is in a school solely to provide enrichment activities, he or she will be neither a teacher nor a paraprofessional.

I appreciate knowing of your organization’s support for requiring performing artists who deal directly with students to work under the “direct supervision” of a highly qualified teacher. As you know, school districts already have the authority to determine the conditions under which performing artists work without defining such individuals as paraprofessionals. Please be aware, however, that if a determination is made that a performing artist is a paraprofessional for Title I purposes, there are additional qualification standards that the individual must meet. He or she must have a secondary school diploma or its equivalent, and must (1) have completed at least two years of study at an institution of higher education, or (2) have obtained an associate’s or higher degree, or (3) have demonstrated—through a formal state or local assessment—knowledge of, and the ability to assist in instructing, as appropriate, reading/language arts, writing or mathematics or reading readiness, writing readiness or mathematics readiness.

We appreciate your interest in the No Child Left Behind Act.

Ronald J. Tomalis
Acting Assistant Secretary
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

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Paraprofessionals - Treatment of Artists - NCLB Policy Letters to States