Paraeducator Requirements

To work in education and related service programs for children and youth with disabilities, paraeducators will demonstrate:

  • Understanding the values of providing instructional and other direct services to all children and youth with disabilities.
  • Understanding the roles and responsibilities of certificated/licensed staff and paraeducators.
  • Knowledge of (a) patterns of human development and milestones typically achieved at different ages, and (b) risk factors that may prohibit or impede typical development.
  • Ability to practice ethical and professional standards of conduct, including the requirements of confidentiality.
  • Ability to communicate with colleagues, follow instructions, and use problem solving and other skills that will enable the paraeducator to work as an effective member of the instructional team.
  • Ability to provide positive behavioral support and management.
  • Knowledge of the legal issues related to the education of children and youth with disabilities and their families.
  • Awareness of diversity among the children, youth, families, and colleagues with whom they work.
  • Knowledge and application of the elements of effective instruction to assist teaching and learning as developed by the certificated/licensed staff in a variety of settings.
  • Ability to utilize appropriate strategies and techniques to provide instructional support in teaching and learning as developed by the certificated/licensed staff.
  • Ability to motivate and assist children and youth.
  • Knowledge of and ability to follow health, safety, and emergency procedures of the agency where they are employed.
  • Awareness of the ways in which technology can assist teaching and learning.
  • Awareness of personal care and/or health related support.
  • WAC 392-172-200 concerning staff qualifications was adopted December 1, 1999 and went into effect January 1, 2000. You can obtain a complete copy off the OSPI website.

NCLB Paraeducator Requirements

The law states in Section 1119(g) that all paraprofessionals who are performing instructional duties and are funded with Title I funds, including all paraprofessional performing instructional duties in a schoolwide building, must meet specific requirements.

These requirements are:

1. Paraprofessionals must currently have a secondary school (high school) diploma or its recognized equivalent, and

2. Paraprofessionals must fulfill one of the three following requirements:

  • a. Complete at least two years of study at an institution of higher education; or
  • b. Obtain an associate's (or higher) degree; or
  • c. Meet a rigorous standard of quality and can demonstrate, through a formal state or local academic assessment:
    • i) Knowledge of, and the ability to assist in instructing, reading, writing and mathematics;
    • ii) Knowledge of, and the ability to assist in instructing, reading readiness, writing readiness, and mathematics readiness as appropriate.

Paraprofessionals hired prior to or on January 8, 2002, have until January 8, 2006, to meet one of the three requirements listed above. Paraprofessionals hired after January 8, 2002 , must meet one of the three requirements when hired.

Washington's Solutions to Fulfill the Title I Requirement

1. Complete two years of study at an institution of higher education. For Washington, two years of study is defined as 72 quarter or 48 semester credits. The institution of higher education must be a nationally recognized accrediting agency that is public or non-profit and provides an educational program for which the institution awards a bachelor's degree or provides not less than a two-year program that is acceptable for full credit toward such a degree.

2. Obtain an associate's (or higher) degree.Institutions of higher education, both four and two year institutions, grant several different types of associate's degrees. Any of these associate's degrees will fulfill this requirement.

3. Formal Assessment.Paraprofessionals who do not qualify either through two years of study at an institution of higher education or an associate's degree must qualify to meet the requirement through one of the following four options designated as a formal assessment of rigorous standard of quality. The means by which a paraeducator can meet this requirement is at the district's discretion.

  • a. ParaPro Assessment developed by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), or
  • b. A portfolio assessment process, or
  • c. A process whereby school districts can evaluate their current assessment procedures to determine if they meet the rigorous standard of quality as defined by Section 1119 and the November 2002 US Department of Education non-regulatory guidance for Title I paraprofessionals, or
  • d. Completion of an approved Apprenticeship Program by the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council and registered with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

Instructional Assistant and Educational Paraprofessional Apprenticeship Program (approved by the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council registered with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries) are currently approved programs. Several other apprenticeship programs are undergoing review.