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. To ensure students have access to highly-trained paraeducators who can support their learning needs, paraeducators must have ongoing professional development and training.
Your commitment to the certificate program will ensure all paraeducators receive the professional development they deserve to best support Washington’s students. We have created this page to share unique and creative opportunities to maintain the momentum of the certificate program including training materials and funding strategies.
The Legislature has allocated $28,001,000 to reimburse school districts for providing training to their paraeducators during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years
- 2020-21 school year: $12,587,000 to reimburse districts for providing training on the Fundamental Course of Study (FCS)
- 2021-22 school year: $15,414,000 to reimburse districts for providing training on the FCS and the General Paraeducator Certificate.
- Meet paraeducator minimum employment requirements
- During the 2021-22 school year, districts must provide two days (14 hours) of training on the FCS or general certificate
- During the 2022-23 school year, districts must provide four days (28 hours) of training on the FCS or two days (14 hours) of training on the general certificate
To receive reimbursement for the 14 hours of training during the 2021-22 school year, districts must complete iGrants package 918 by September 1, 2022. Reports are due December 15, June 30, and September 1.
Fundamental Course of Study
For the 2021-22 school year, school districts must train all paraeducators who have not completed the FCS on two days of the FCS by September 1, 2022.
- *Newly employed paraeducators hired on or before September 1, 2021:
- Districts must provide two days of training on the FCS by September 30, 2021.
- Paraeducators hired after September 1, 2021:
- For districts with 10,000 or more students, two days of training on the FCS must be provided within four months of the date of hire.
- For districts with fewer than 10,000 students, two days of training on the FCS must be provided by September 1, 2022.
For the 2022-23 school year, school districts must train all newly hired paraeducators on the FCS (four days) by September 1, 2023.
For paraeducators hired on or before September 1, districts must provide the first two days of FCS training by September 30. Districts must provide the second two days of training within six months of the paraeducator’s date of hire.
For paraeducators hired after September 1:
- In districts with 10,000 or more students, districts must provide the first two days of FCS training within four months of the date of hire, and the second two days within six months of the date of hire, or by September 1
- For districts with fewer than 10,000 students, districts must provide four days of training by September 1
*The 2022-23 school year deadlines also apply to all subsequent school years.
- For the 2021-22 school year, school districts must provide two days of training on the general certificate to all paraeducators who have completed the FCS by September 1, 2022.
- For the 2022-23 school year, school districts must provide two days of training on the general certificate to all paraeducators who have completed the FCS by September 1, 2023.
Implementing the program
- Reach out to other districts, Educational Support Districts (ESDs), unions, community colleges, and others to identify areas of opportunity for collaboration and explore the possibility of coordinated efforts that extend and include paraeducator training.
Resources folder – this online folder contains a variety of materials to help your district navigate implementing the certificate program. In it, you will find:
- Toolkit (doc) – This toolkit will assist school district staff who are responsible for implementing the required training. Educational Support Districts, unions, community colleges, or any partners involved in supporting the professional development of paraeducators in Washington may also find the toolkit useful. We will add to, and update, this resource as appropriate.
- FCS curriculum
- Standards of practice for paraeducators
- Course outlines for the FCS and English Language Learner (ELL) and Special Education subject matter certificates
- Clock hour forms for the FCS and subject matter certificates
- FAQ document
- Paraeducator program reports
- Materials from the pilot sites
Free online courses
Take advantage of the opportunity during the current school closures to facilitate training with these online resources.
- Fundamental Course of Study: while seven of the 28 hours of FCS training must be conducted in person, the remaining 21 hours can, if the district chooses, be completed online.
- Paraeducators: what we do matters – 13 modules that can count for 13 hours of FCS training. Districts interested in providing these modules must review the crosswalk document. Paraeducators must communicate and coordinate with their district before starting this course on their own.
- View the crosswalk document.
- Subject matter certificates
- English Language Learner (ELL) subject matter certificate online course – completion of all five modules in this course meets the 20-hour training requirement for the ELL subject matter certificate. A paraeducator can complete this training before finishing their FCS, but cannot earn the certificate until after completing the FCS.
- Special education subject matter certificate online course – completion of all four modules in this course meets the 20-hour training requirement for the special education subject matter certificate. A paraeducator can complete this training before finishing their FCS, but cannot earn the certificate until after completing the FCS.
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.
View the FCS curriculum (folder).
While only two days of training will be reimbursed per school year, we encourage districts to provide additional training days if they have the resources and capacity to do so. This section will provide ideas and strategies for identifying funding opportunities beyond the state reimbursement model.
Review bargaining agreements
Your district and union may have already bargained professional development opportunities for paraeducators or classified staff. Review the agreement to determine if training opportunities exist and if they may be applied towards the certificate program.
Consider using Title I, II, or III funding to support paraeducator training
Districts can consider using Title I or Title II funding only if the training or support given to the paraeducators is consistent with activities permitted under Title I and Title II, Part A. Districts can access these funds if they are used to help paraeducators meet the required qualifications consistent with specific professional development goals.
Learn more about:
Consider using LAP funds
Learning Assistance Programs (LAP) allows professional development for educators working with LAP students on issues relevant to the needs of struggling students (e.g. the needs of a diverse student population, specific literacy and math content and instructional strategies, and using student work to guide instruction and assistance). Paraeducators are considered educators.
District general operation dollars to support training
Districts should look into their general operations budget to determine if funds were allocated to support and provide training for classified staff.