Policy analysis relative to the employment of teacher aides in Virginia

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


In 1974 the state of Virginia began a legislative study of the methods utilized to fund teacher aides and developed accreditation standards for elementary and secondary schools permitting employment of teacher aides. Prior to this time, the Virginia State Department of Education had no state program for training or certification. However, it had suggested (in 1969) limited personnel policies for selection of teacher aides, which proved to be a stimulus for several local school districts in the state to develop limited personnel policies relating to the employment of teacher aides.

This study was designed to present descriptive data concerning areas of existing local teacher aide personnel policy. The study also delineated, as normative data, those policy areas considered important for inclusion in future local and state guidelines.

A study was made of the teacher aide policy handbooks received from an inquiry addressed to the directors of 141 local Career Opportunities Programs in the United States. Similarly, a study was made of the status of teacher aides as indicated in responses elicited from the Department of Certification and Teacher Training in each of the 50 states. With the data received from these studies, a three-part survey instrument was developed which contained 40 policy items under each of three major areas of concern, "current local policy," "opinion for future local policy," and "opinion for future state policy." An additional item was included to ascertain legal status and opinions relative to certification.

The instrument was mailed to all (131) of the local district superintendents in Virginia, selected (24) administrative and instructional personnel in the Virginia State Department of Education, and all (67) of the teacher aides who were members of the Department of Teacher Aides, Virginia Education Association, in 1974.

The rate of return for superintendents was 92.4 percent, for state department personnel, 87.5 percent, and for teacher aides, 61.2 percent. Statistical procedures of frequency distribution and percentage were utilized in analysis of the data.

Of those items which are currently part of local policy, 15 were unanimously recommended for inclusion in both future local and state guidelines. Inclusion of 40 policy items was recommended by a majority of the superintendents for future local policy, while state department personnel recommended 38 and teacher aides, 34. For inclusion in future state policy, a majority of superintendents recommended 35 policy items, state department personnel, 22, and teacher aides, 33.

The study revealed that for Virginia instructional teacher aides there should be developed a comprehensive set of local and state policy guidelines for training, certification and related personnel practices. These were seen as means of providing for shared accountability between state and local policymakers in those areas of funding and permanacy of the instructional teacher aide position. Policy guidelines for certification, training and related personnel areas have further implications for the individual instructional teacher aide. These were seen as means for providing greater job security, higher salaries, status, and availability of financial assistance for pre-service and in-service career training programs.