It looks like this is the year that we will pass the paraeducator bill! After three years of trying to get all the recommendations from the paraeducator advisory workgroup implemented, PSE reached an agreement with WEA on changes to our original bill. Though many features of the original bill continue, we agreed to a variety of changes to get the bill passed this year. Both the House and Senate education committees approved the agreement this afternoon. The bills, HB 1115 and SB 5070, next go to the fiscal committees for their approval.
Paraeducator minimum employment requirements
These are the current Title I standards that are in place in most all school districts. All paraeducators, not just paraeducators who work in Title I schools or school districts, will have to meet one of the following standards beginning September 1, 2017:
- Be at least eighteen years of age and hold a high school diploma or its equivalent; and
- Have received a passing grade on the education testing service paraeducator assessment; or
- Hold an associate of arts degree; or
- Have earned seventy-two quarter credits or forty-eight semester credits at an institution of higher education; or
- Have completed a registered apprenticeship program.
Special education and English language learner certificates
The easiest change to describe is that the paraeducator board will continue to develop special education and ELL (English Language Learners) standards but paraeducators are not required to earn this “specialty” certificate to work in these programs. In order to earn the certificate, the paraeducator must attend 20 hours of professional development. The certificate expires after five years.
Paraeducators must take the following courses to earn their “paraeducator certificate”. The legislature must provide funding for:
- a four day fundamental course of study; and,
- an additional ten days of general courses, as defined by the board, on the state paraeducator standards of practice.
Only after completing both the four day fundamental course and the 10 day general course will a paraeducator earn their paraeducator certificate. The certificate does not expire.
If the legislature does not provide funding for the courses, paraeducators don’t have to meet the requirement that they get a paraeducator certificate within three years of taking the four day course of study.
Four day fundamental course of study
Beginning September 1, 2019, school districts must use their best efforts to provide the course of study before the paraeducator begins to work with students and their families. At a minimum they must provide paraeducators hired on or before September 1, 2019, the four day fundamental course of study by September 30, 2019. Paraeducators hired after September 1 of each subsequent year who work in a school district with 10,000 or more students, must receive the course of student within 4 months of the date of hire; paraeducators hired after September 1 of each subsequent year, who work in a school district with less than 10,000 students, must receive the course of study by no later than September 1 of the following year.
10 day general course of study
Beginning September 1, 2019, school districts must provide the 10 day general course of study within 3 years of completing the four-day fundamental course of study.
Advanced paraeducator certificate
The paraeducator board will develop the seventy-five hour professional development training that a paraeducator will have to take in order to qualify for their advanced paraeducator certificate. The certificate expires after five years.