The Paraeducator Certificate Program offers statewide standards-based training for all paraeducators, and supports a career growth ladder for those who wish to advance their career as a paraeducator or pursue a teaching profession.
School districts are required to:
- Meet paraeducator minimum employment requirements
- Provide two days (14 hours) of training on the Fundamental Course of Study or general certificate to their paraeducators during the 2021-22 school year.
- Provide four days (28 hours) of training on the Fundamental Course of Study or two days (14 hours) on the general certificate to their paraeducators during the 2022-23 school year. Learn more about district implementation.
It is the responsibility of the school district to provide the FCS and general certificate training to their paraeducators. Paraeducators should not independently seek out training to meet training requirements. If paraeducators are unaware of training, please contact the human resource office of your school district.
Below is a list of training and certificate components included in the certificate program.
Paraeducator standards of practice
The standards of practice make up the foundation of the certificate program.
The five standards are:
- Supporting instructional opportunities;
- Demonstrating professionalism and ethical practices;
- Supporting a positive and safe learning environment;
- Communicating effectively and participating in the team process; and
- Demonstrating cultural competency.
Fundamental Course of Study
How does a paraeducator receive FCS training?
It is the responsibility of a paraeducator’s school district to provide the FCS training to their paraeducators. Paraeducators should not independently seek out training to meet the FCS requirements. If paraeducators are unaware of training as of yet, please contact the human resource office of your school district.
A school district is only required to provide training on the FCS when the Legislature provides funds.
School districts may partner with a provider to ensure that this training is met. If this option is chosen, it is the district’s responsibility to ensure that the training provided meets the standards and learning objectives written in the FCS outline.
All FCS training must meet the learning objectives and standards in the course outline and curriculum. Developed from the paraeducator standards of practice, the FCS is organized into 12 units and provides paraeducators with 28-hours of professional development.
School districts are responsible for choosing what training and units to provide to their paraeducators.
- Paraeducator standards of practice (document)
- Course outline (document)
- FCS clock hour form (document).
In-person training requirement
Seven of the twenty-eight hours must be provided in-person (i.e., paraeducators and trainers are physically in the same room). To support schools as they navigate in-person and hybrid learning, the Paraeducator Board has extended an emergency rule providing districts with continued flexibility to meet Fundamental Course of Study (FCS) in-person training requirements for paraeducators. The emergency rule expires on September 1, 2022. Learn more about the emergency rule.
The FCS curriculum is designed for school districts and other providers who are implementing the training. This is not independent online training, and paraeducators cannot complete this training without a facilitator.
The curriculum includes presentations, facilitator guides, and handouts, and is intended to be used for in-person FCS training. The curriculum provides a strong foundational starting point for districts to provide training, however, many units require customizing the content with district-specific information (e.g., mission and vision statements). These areas of needed customization are clearly marked throughout the materials.
This curriculum was developed with the partnership of many school district leaders, with both their time and content guidance. Using the curriculum is optional. Districts are still welcome to use their own training materials.
The online course “Paraeducators: what we do matters” was created to help meet 13 hours of FCS training. Paraeducators should not complete this online course independently of their district’s training plan. Each of the modules in the online course is equivalent to one hour of training. Districts interested in exploring this option must review the crosswalk (document) between the FCS and the online course.
All the videos from the online course are uploaded to YouTube for districts to use as supplemental material.
General Paraeducator Certificate
The general certificate is earned by a paraeducator who completes ten days (70 clock hours) of professional development training in addition to the Fundamental Course of Study (FCS). It is the responsibility of the school district to ensure all employed paraeducators meet the requirements of the certificate if funding is provided by the Legislature.
A school district is only required to provide training on the general certificate when the Legislature provides funds.
If paraeducators have not yet completed the FCS, districts should provide FCS training before providing general certificate training. If paraeducators have completed the 28 hours of the FCS, districts must provide 14 hours of general certificate training during the 2021-22 school year.
Training to meet the requirements of the general certificate is broadly conceived. Any clock hour training that will assist the instructional skills of a paraeducator may count. For example, any training that is already provided to teachers can be provided to paraeducators to meet the requirements of this certificate.
Training for the general certificate must be clock hour training. Paraeducators must receive training from PESB-approved clock hour providers. View a list of approved clock hour providers.
School districts may partner with a clock hour provider to ensure that this training is met. If this option is chosen, it is the responsibility of the district to ensure that the training provided meets the standards.
Subject Matter Certificates
Subject matter certificates are for paraeducators who wish to further their skills in English Language Learner (ELL) or special education instruction. These certificates are optional and are not requirements.
To earn a subject matter certificate, a paraeducator must complete 20 hours of professional development in the subject area of the certificate. The certificate expires after five years, and it is not a prerequisite to work in any program. A paraeducator can only earn a subject matter certificate if they have completed their FCS training. A paraeducator may allocate completed subject matter certificate hours towards their general certificate hours.
The subject matter certificates have specific standards, learning objectives, and course outlines that must be met to receive the certificate.
Special education certificate
- Course outline and learning objectives (document)
- Special education standards of practice (document).
Two online courses are available to help paraeducators meet the requirements of these subject matter certificates.
Each online course meets the 20 hours of training required to earn the certificate.
Advanced Paraeducator Certificate
A paraeducator may attain the advanced certificate once they have completed the general certificate and an additional 75 clock hours of professional development. This is an optional certificate.
This certificate expires after five years, and it is not a prerequisite for a paraeducator working in any program.
What are the duties of an advanced paraeducator?
- assisting in highly impacted classrooms
- supporting specialized instruction
- mentoring other paraeducators
- acting as a short-term emergency substitute teacher*
* A school district must consult with the paraeducator and apply for the emergency substitute certificate as required in chapter 181-79A WAC.
The advanced certificate must include training competencies that align with the standards of practice of an advanced paraeducator.
- Implementation of the paraeducator certificate program (folder)
- Sign up for the Paraeducator Board newsletter
If you have questions about the program, please email email@example.com