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Qualifications for Becoming a Teacher's Assistant in Illinois

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Teacher's assistants, also known as teaching paraprofessionals, work in educational institutions and provide clerical and instructional support for teachers. The main goal of this position is to provide classroom teachers more time to organize lesson plans and focus on teaching. Other duties of a teacher's assistant may include grading tests, overseeing students during activities and teaching lessons when the official teacher is unavailable. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average income is between $17,610 and $28,180.


The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) requires all teaching assistants to complete at least 30 semester credit hours at an accredited university or community college. Applicants are also eligible for paraprofessional certification if they completed a paraprofessional training program from a local community college accredited by the Illinois State Board of Education. The ISBE offers a list of all accredited educational institutions within the state of Illinois.

ETS ParaPro Assessment

Applicants who have not completed the necessary educational requirements are able to qualify for the teaching assistant license by passing the ETS ParaPro Assessment with a score of at least 460. The ParaPro Assessment measures an applicant’s knowledge in basic math, reading and writing. This examination consists of 90 multiple-choice questions and features a two-and-a-half hour time limit. As of 2010, the fee for the ETS ParaPro Assessment is $45.00. This test is given throughout the year in locations throughout Illinois.

Professional Training Points (PTPs)

To be approved for certification by the Illinois State Board of Education and the No Child Left Behind Act, applicants must complete 300 Professional Training Points (PTPs). The ICBE states applicants can earn the aforementioned points through four pathways, which include:

Completing one year of work as a teacher's assistant in a public or private institution; one year of work equals 30 PTPs up to a maximum of 150 PTPs. Applicants must include an official letter stating the applicant's work history. This letter must be signed by the principle, or chief administrator, of the employing district or school.

College credits beyond 30 credit hours. Each additional semester hour equals 15 PTPs. Applicants must submit an official transcript highlighting the total semester credit hours completed.

Applicants may complete the Paraprofessional Test Preparation Curriculum developed by the Illinois State Board of Education. This program is available at community colleges throughout the state. This program gives applicants a total of 15 PTPs. Applicants must submit the official certificate of completion.

One-hour of professional development training within reading, writing, language arts and mathematics equals one PTP. To show evidence of this training, applicants must submit ISBE Form 77-21, which consists of the subject, date, location and program outline.


Jonathan McLelland has been a professional writer since 2005. He has worked as a story writer and editor for the international sitcom, “Completing Kaden,” as well as a proposal writer for various production companies. McLelland studied communication and theater at St. Louis Community College.

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