Instructional Assistants (IAs) are an important part of the educator team, working under the direction of the special education teacher and/or the special education program head and in collaboration with classroom teachers. IAs assist students with self-help tasks designed to enhance learning, behavior, social-emotional development, activities-of-daily-living, and access to the general curriculum by and for students with identified educational disabilities. In Andover, IAs are not assigned to classrooms or teachers, but rather assigned to individual students through the IEP process. The notable exception is that each kindergarten classroom includes an IA to facilitate learning as part of the classroom team. In some districts, employees in similar positions may hold the title of Paraprofessional or Education Support Professional (ESP).
There are no specific licensing or DESE requirements to become an IA. The qualifications for the role are listed in the job description as: 1. Minimum of two years of college or equivalent two years’ experience working with children, 2. Ability to understand student curriculum and to implement multiple teacher-directed activities, and 3. Knowledge of use of computers, including the application of classroom and adaptive technologies.
Through an agreement reached in 2019, IAs in Andover also have an opportunity to receive training and earn qualification for the roles of Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) and Literacy Tutor. There are plans to expand this program and to add an Applied Behavior Analyst (ABA) role, though this work has been delayed during the pandemic. These differentiated job roles include additional financial compensation.