This page serves as a resource for district leaders and other stakeholders who are implementing the paraeducator certificate program. Unless otherwise marked as required, please use this information as guidance.
NOTE: Information on this page is actively being updated. Please check back routinely for the most up to date and accurate guidelines.
What are districts required to do?
Districts are required to:
- Make sure all of their paraeducators meet minimum employment requirements by effective dates; and
- Provide training on the Fundamental Course of Study and the General Paraeducator Certificate to their paraeducators, beginning school year 2019-20, if funded by the Legislature.
The Paraeducator Board will learn if funding is allocated during the upcoming Legislative session. The Board will release a bulletin to inform stakeholders of the decision.
Source: HB 1115 and SB 6388
What are the new minimum employment requirements for paraeducators?
All paraeducators must meet the following minimum employment requirements by school year 2019-20:
- Be at least eighteen years of age and hold a high school diploma or its equivalent; and
In addition, a paraeducator must meet one or more of the following:
- Have received a qualifying score on the Education Testing Service paraeducator assessment; or
- Hold an associate degree or higher from an accredited college or university; or
- Have earned seventy-two quarter credits or forty-eight semester credits at the one hundred level or higher at an accredited college or university; or
- Have completed an apprenticeship as a paraeducator, in a program registered with the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council.
For more detailed information, please visit the minimum employment requirements page.
What is the paraeducator certificate program?
NOTE: unless you are a member of the pilot program, training cannot begin until school year 2019-20. Any training completed before this school year will not count towards the certificate program training.
The paraeducator certificate program is comprised of the following components:
- The Fundamental Course of Study
- This is the first training paraeducators must receive (experienced and new hires). The training takes 28 hours to complete, and teaches the newly created paraeducator standards of practice.
- Learn more about this course.
- General Certificate
- Once the paraeducator has completed the Fundamental Course of Study (FCS), they may begin training to receive the General Paraeducator Certificate. This certificate is an additional 70 hours of training which must obtained within three years of completing the FCS.
- Learn more about this certificate.
- Subject Matter Certificates
- A paraeducator can obtain the ELL Subject Matter Certificate or Special Education Subject Matter Certificate once they have completed the Fundamental Course of Study. Each certificate is 20 hours of training.
- Learn more about these certificates.
- Advanced Paraeducator Certificate
- A paraeducator can obtain the Advanced Paraeducator Certificate once they have completed the General Paraeducator Certificate. This certificate is an additional 75 hours of training.
- Learn more about this certificate.
In what order must paraeducators complete the trainings?
If funded by the Legislature, the Fundamental Course of Study and General Paraeducator Certificate are required training that the district must provide to their paraeducators.
Paraeducators who receive one or both subject matter certificates may deduct these training hours from the General Paraeducator Certificate. For example, after completing the Fundamental Course of Study, a paraeducator decides to receive the ELL Subject Matter Certificate. In attaining this certificate, the paraeducator can deduct the hours to attain the certificate (20 hours) from the General Paraeducator Certificate. The paraeducator must now complete 50 hours of training to meet the General Paraeducator Certificate. If the paraeducator then completes the Special Education Subject Matter Certificate, the paraeducator will only have to complete 30 hours of training to meet the General Paraeducator Certificate.
What is the implementation timeline?
Paraeducator pilot program
During 2018-19 school year, the Paraeducator Board is administering the paraeducator pilot program. Six grantees (four school districts and two ESDs) are piloting the Fundamental Course of Study and a chosen paraeducator certificate. Learn more about the pilot program.
In January 2019, the Paraeducator Board will publish a midterm report on the pilot program. Highlights of the report will include implementation strengths and challenges, and lessons learned for statewide implementation. A final report will be published in November 2019.
What resources are available for districts?
Online learning resources
We are creating several online learning tools to assist districts in the paraeducator training, including three online courses that are free to access. Each listing includes the number of clock hours that completing the course will provide:
- Paraeducators: what we do matters
- An online course to meet 12 of the 28 hours of required Fundamental Course of Study training.
- ELL Subject Matter Certificate (under development)
- An online course to meet the 20 hours of training to attain the ELL Subject Matter Certificate.
- Special Education Subject Matter Certificate (under development)
- An online course to meet the 20 hours of training to attain the Special Education Subject Matter Certificate.
In addition to the online courses listed above, Washington has created the following online courses. These courses are not a part of the paraeducator certificate program, but the professional development is regarding paraeducators. Teachers and administrators who complete the training may earn clock hours. For more information, please contact Kim Bahrenburg (Kim.Bahrenburg@k12.wa.us).
- Teachers working with paraeducators
- This course is designed to provide teachers with strategies for collaborating with paraeducators and for developing an effective working partnership.
- Principals and administrators working with paraeducators
- This course is designed to equip school leaders with the skills necessary to successfully hire and onboard paraeducators.
- Watch a recording of our informational webinar, which provides an overview of the paraeducator certificate program. This video is a great resource to learn and prepare for successful implementation.
- Contact Jack Busbee (email@example.com), Program Manager, Paraeducator Board.