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Training Paraprofessionals: What Teachers and Administrators Need to Know

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  1. Training Paraprofessionals:What Teachers and Administrators Need to Know

  2. Legislation - • Special Education - • Federal - 1997 Amendments to IDEA - • State - MS125A.08(b) • Title I - • Federal - No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 • NEW in Minnesota - • State - Regular Session Laws (2003), Chapter. 129, Article 1, • Section. 10

  3. Legislation - • 1997 Amendments to IDEA - • A State may allow paraprofessionals and assistants who are appropriately trained and supervised, in accordance with State law, regulations, or written policy, in meeting the requirements of this part to be used to assist in the provision of special education and related services to children with disabilities under Part B of the Act. [34 CFR §300.136(f)]

  4. Definition - MN 3525.0200 DEFINITIONS FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION – Subp. 10a. Paraprofessional. “Paraprofessional” means a district employee who is primarily engaged in direct instruction with one or more pupils for instructional activities, physical or behavior management, or other purposes under the direction of a regular education or special education teacher or related services provider.

  5. Legislation - MS125A.08(b) – (b) For paraprofessionals employed to work in programs for students with disabilities, the school board in each district shall ensure that Before or immediately upon employment, each paraprofessional develops sufficient knowledge and skills in emergency procedures, building orientation, roles and responsibilities, confidentiality, vulnerability, and reportability, among other things, to begin meeting the needs of the students with whom the paraprofessional works;

  6. Legislation - MS125A.08(b) – continued 2. Annual training opportunities are available to enable the paraprofessional to continue to further develop the knowledge and skills that are specific to the students with whom the paraprofessional works, including understanding disabilities, following lesson plans, and implementing follow-up instructional procedures and activities; and

  7. Legislation - • MS125A.08(b) – continued • A district wide process obligates each paraprofessional to work under the ongoing direction of a licensed teacher and, where appropriate and possible, the supervision of a school nurse.

  8. Legislation - Sec. 10. [120B.363] [CREDENTIAL FOR EDUCATION PARAPROFESSIONALS.] Subdivision 1. [RULEMAKING.] The board of teaching must adopt rules to implement a statewide credential for education paraprofessionals who assist a licensed teacher in providing student instruction. Any paraprofessional holding this credential or working in a local school district after meeting a state-approved local assessment is considered to be highly qualified under federal law.

  9. Legislation - Subdivision 1. [RULEMAKING.] continued... Under this subdivision, the board of teaching, in consultation with the commissioner, must adopt qualitative criteria for approving local assessments that include an evaluation of a paraprofessional's knowledge of reading, writing, and math and the paraprofessional's ability to assist in the instruction of reading, writing, and math. The commissioner must approve or disapprove local assessments using these criteria. The commissioner must make the criteria available to the public.

  10. Legislation - Continued Sec. 10. [120B.363] [CREDENTIAL FOR EDUCATION PARAPROFESSIONALS.] Subd. 2. [TRAINING POSSIBILITIES.] In adopting rules under subdivision 1, the board must consider including provisions that provide training in: students' characteristics; teaching and learning environment; academic instruction skills; student behavior; and ethical practices.

  11. Legislation - Continued… Sec. 10. [120B.363] [CREDENTIAL FOR EDUCATION PARAPROFESSIONALS.] Subd. 3. [INITIAL TRAINING.] Within the first 60 days of supervising or working with students, a district must provide each paraprofessional with initial training in emergency procedures, confidentiality, vulnerability, reporting obligations, discipline policies, roles and responsibilities, and a building orientation.

  12. Legislation - • NCLB, 2002 - • New Paraprofessionals • Each local education agency receiving assistance under this part shall ensure that all paraprofessionals hired after the date of enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and working in a program supported with funds under this part shall have -- • [Title I, Section 1119/b]

  13. Legislation - • NCLB, 2002 - • New Paraprofessionals, continued • Completed at least 2 years of study at an institution of higher education; • Obtained an associate’s (or higher) degree; or • Met a rigorous standard of quality and can demonstrate, through a formal State or local academic assessment - • Knowledge of, and the ability to assist in instructing reading, writing, and mathematics; or • Knowledge of, and the ability to assist in instructing reading readiness, writing readiness, and mathematics readiness, as appropriate. [Title I, Section 1119/b] • Existing paraprofessionals must meet requirements within 4 years after enactment (by January 8, 2006)

  14. Minnesota Paraprofessional Requirements for meeting NCLB NCLB requirements for paraprofessionals are met by: A: Two years of study at an institution of higher education; Minnesota’s standard: A minimum of 60 semester credits or the amount required to complete two years of full time enrollment as determined by the institution attended. OR B: An Associate’s degree; or Minnesota’s standard: An AA, AS, AAS (or higher) degree. continued…

  15. Minnesota Paraprofessional Requirements for meeting NCLB Continued… OR C: A demonstration, through a formal state or local academic assessment: a. knowledge of and the ability to assist in instructing reading, writing and math, or b. knowledge of and the ability to assist in instructing reading readiness, writing readiness and mathematics readiness as appropriate

  16. Minnesota Local Assessment – continued Minnesota’s standard: 1. A passing score on an assessment from the state approved list OR 2. Demonstrating all Minnesota Paraprofessional Core Competencies (1-8) by local district validation of a portfolio through: transferable work experience, college courses, workshops/conferences, Para eLink and demonstration of skill using Para eLink or a similar curriculum that focuses on recent training addressed in Competency 9 of Reading, Math and Writing OR

  17. Minnesota Local Assessment – continued 3. a state approved local assessment. *(criteria listed on the next page)

  18. Minnesota Local Assessment – cont… **Criteria for Local Assessments: A local assessment must satisfy the following criteria, and be submitted to MDE for approval: reliable, valid, accessible, objective, comparable to two years of higher education, and able to measure knowledge and ability to assist in instructing reading, writing, and math (or reading, writing, and math readiness) in the language of instruction. Local Education Agencies interested in this option may choose to explore assessments, which meet local needs. Examples of current local choices include “WorkKeys” and “Accuplacer.” Requests for approval of a local assessment should be sent to the Commissioner.

  19. ParaPro The ParaPro Assessment, by ETS, is now available and the cut score has been established. A validation study was conducted in September, using volunteers from many districts across the state. From that study, a cut score of 460 was finalized by Commissioner Yecke and the Minnesota Paraprofessional Consortium. How a district can order the ParaPro test to use on site: http://www.ets.org/parapro/ippform.html Where a district or individual can go to take the ParaPro test in Minnesota: http://www.ets.org/parapro/pdfs/TestCenterList.pdf Questions may be directed to: Diane Cirksena, Title I Area Director, 651.582.8759, Diane.cirksena@state.mn.us or Barbara Jo Stahl, Special Education, 651.582.8659, Barbara.stahl@state.mn.us

  20. Minnesota Core Competencies • Statewide paraprofessional core competencies further define what paraprofessionals should know and be able to do. • Core Competency Areas: • 1. Philosophical, Historical and Legal Foundations of Education • 2. Characteristics of Learners • 3. Assessment, Diagnosis and Evaluation • 4. Instructional Content and Practice • 5. Supporting the Teaching and Learning Environment • 6. Managing Student Behavior and Social Interaction Skills • 7. Communication and Collaborative Partnerships • Professional and Ethical Practices • Academic Instructional Skills in Math, Reading and Writing

  21. Training & Preparation - • Studies have found that paraprofessionals who report receiving more inservice training or preservice preparation report feeling better prepared to fulfill their job responsibilities • Numerous recent studies and opinion pieces indicate that there is a scarcity of relevant training available to paraprofessionals. • Perceptions regarding need for training differ among administrators, teachers, and paraprofessionals.

  22. Training & Preparation - Wallace, Stahl, & Johnson (2003) • 67% of the paraprofessionals reported that they have had an opportunity to develop knowledge/skills specific to students with whom they work • 68%of the paraprofessionals feel that the ongoing training offered, prepares them to understand the needs of the students with whom they work • 60% of the paraprofessionals reported having training that prepared them to implement follow up instruction and activities.

  23. Training & Preparation - Wallace, Stahl, & Johnson (2003)

  24. Training & Preparation - Wallace, Stahl, & Johnson (2003)

  25. MN Infrastructure - • Legislation – Federal and State • Minnesota Core Competencies • Para eLink • Portfolio / eFolio • Para Pro Test • Resource Guide on Directing the Work of Paraprofessionals • Paraprofessional WEEK, January 19- 23, 2004 • Paraprofessional Trainer Conference, March 1 - 2, 2004 • State Conference, April 30 - May 1, 2004 • Paraprofessional Website http://ici2.umn.edu/para/

  26. What is Minnesota Department of Education doing to assist schools with NCLB? • Collaboration between Title 1, Special Education, Career & Technical Education, Indian Education, Limited English Proficiency (LEP), State Board of Teaching and Licensing and Minnesota Paraprofessional Consortium in policy and rule making. • Providing a validation and standard setting process for state recommended assessments that could assist districts in assessing the knowledge of reading, writing, and mathematics. The state validated assessment, at this time is ParaPro - cut score is 460.

  27. What is Minnesota Department of Education doing to assist schools with NCLB? • The development of a Paraprofessional Portfolio or E-folio which is based on the MN Competencies that will assist paraprofessionals in documenting their transferable work experience, college course, workshops/conference and skill demonstration – on website http://ici2.umn.edu/para • The development of a Paraprofessional Skills Inventory – located on website http://ici2.umn.edu/para

  28. What Can Schools Do? • Encourage Title 1, Special Education, Career & Technical Education, Indian Education, LEP to coordinate paraprofessional training efforts. • Explore Para eLink, by sending staff to Regional Facilitators training in the fall, 2003 updates will be posted on the web at http://ici2.umn.edu

  29. What Can Schools Do? • Principal/ District’s determine local plan for meeting paraprofessional training requirements. Minnesota Options: • If you choose to create a Portfolio/eFolio (on website) to demonstrate work toward meeting the Minnesota Paraprofessional Competencies, conduct a needs assessment (Core Competency Inventory Skills Check List) and begin to build strategies for unmet competencies. If you choose to use the ParaPro Assessment, consider having current paraprofessionals take the pre-test and focus on some of the supports available for test preparation. Score - 460 • Monitor the Paraprofessional Website dedicated to up to the minute information of this emerging field. Continue to check Website http://ici2.umn.edu/para

  30. Questions to ask to avoid ethical dilemmas regarding preparation and training(Heller, B. and Gerlach, K. (2003). Paraeducators in Education Settings: Ethical Issues, in Pickett, A.L., & Gerlach, G. Paraeducators in Education Settings: A Team Approach. Austin, TX: Pro-ed) 1. Have knowledge and skills required by paraeducators and assistants to work in different positions, programs, and across disciplines been identified and developed? 2. Are there systematic competency-based opportunities for personnel development and career advancement?  For paraprofessionals  For administrators who manage paraprofessionals  For educators and other professionals who supervise paraprofessionals 3. Does the training content provide paraeducators and their supervisors with an understanding of the roles of professionals as team leaders, diagnosticians, program planners and supervisors of paraprofessionals?

  31. Questions, continued… 4. Have the team leadership and supervisory roles been identified and the knowledge and skill competencies developed to prepare the professionals for these roles? 5. Does the training content demonstrate respect for children and youth with disabilities and their families, as well as for those who come from diverse ethnic, cultural and language backgrounds? 6 Does the training content include information on the ethical, legal and team-based roles of professionals and paraeducators in the delivery of education and related services? 7. Do licensed/certified professionals involved in the training of paraeducators have knowledge of and respect for the distinction in professional and paraeducator roles?

  32. Questions, continued… 8. Is sufficient time and opportunity provided for orientation, initial training, and continued competency development? 9. How can different constituencies (e.g., professional associations, provider agencies, IHEs) contribute to the appropriate efforts to improve the quality of teacher/provider-paraeducator staff development?

  33. Training & Preparation - Topics listed in the literature for Paraprofessional Training - • Positive behavioral supports • Specifics about disabilities • Teaching strategies • Communication and problem solving strategies • Transition related information and job coaching • Early childhood special education and child development • Special Education Law, confidentiality • Use of computers and accommodations • Inclusion • Health and safety • Development of independence and mobility • Observation and data collection strategies

  34. What is happening in your district?

  35. Discussion & Questions