NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Teachers' Aides Weren't Such A Great Idea

May 27, 1999

The federal government pays out $6 billion a year for 75,000 teachers and 77,000 classroom aides in poor schools. But federal studies dating back to the early 1990s have shown that in most grades, aides have had no impact on academic achievement. Indeed, in third grade, children with aides in their classrooms learned less than those in classes without them.

The problem is that the vast majority of aides are teaching children even though they lack the education and training necessary to that job.

  • Only about 10 percent of the aides hold bachelor's degrees, according to U.S. Department of Education data.
  • About 75 percent of the aides spend some time teaching students without a teacher present.
  • One-third of aides report that at least half of the time they spend teaching students is not supervised by a certified teacher.

Doing away with the program has become a political problem. The American Federation of Teachers represents 110,000 dues-paying classroom aides and the powerful National Education Association union, another 150,000.

Source: Editorial, "Teacher Aides Prove to Be an Expensive Failure," USA Today, May 27, 1999.


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