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.
On April 3, 2020, Governor Jay Inslee used his line-item veto authority to trim $235 million from the 2020 supplemental operating budget, and reduced another $210 million in the state’s next two-year budget. These vetoes are intended to address the anticipated funding needed to recover from the current unprecedented health crisis impacting our state.
As a result, the certificate program received a cut of over $14 million for fiscal year (FY) 21, and a combined cut of nearly $21 million for FY 22 and 23. These funds would have required school districts to provide up to four days of training per school year.
This change in funding only affects new funds to the certificate program and not the base funding. For the 2019-20 school year, $12 million is allocated for school districts to train paraeducators on the Fundamental Course of Study (FCS) and another $12 million is anticipated to fund two more days of the FCS during the 2020-21 school year. Read our announcement on this funding revision.
District requirements for the 2019-20 school year
- Meet paraeducator minimum employment requirements
- Provide two days (14 hours) of training on the Fundamental Course of Study to paraeducators. Training may begin on July 1, 2019.
District requirements for the 2020-21 school year
- Meet paraeducator minimum employment requirements
- In anticipation of the program retaining its base funding, school districts are required to provide two days (14 hours) of training on the Fundamental Course of Study to paraeducators. Training may begin on July 1, 2020.
In-person training requirement
To support districts as they navigate traditional and virtual classroom options, the Paraeducator Board has issued an emergency rule providing greater flexibility to meet training requirements for paraeducators on the Fundamental Course of Study (FCS).
The FCS consists of 28 hours of training, seven of which are required to be provided in person. The new emergency rule allows districts to meet the in-person requirement if they provide training to paraeducators through a virtual format with an instructor that uses synchronous learning. Synchronous online learning that took place with an instructor beginning on March 1, 2020 will count towards meeting the in person requirement of the FCS. This rule is in effect until September 1, 2021.
To receive reimbursement for the 14 hours of training during the 2019-20 school year, districts are required to complete iGrants package 918 by September 1, 2020. We will publish a preliminary reimbursement rate to districts in November 2019, adjust in February 2020, adjust in May 2020, and make a final adjustment in September 2020 when the total number of paraeducators who received training is known.
- View the quarterly updates for iGrants 918.
For the 2019-20 school year:
- Paraeducators hired on or before September 1, 2019:
- They must receive the first 14 hours by September 1, 2020.
- They must receive the next 14 hours (to complete the 28 hours of the FCS) by September 1, 2021.
- Paraeducators hired for the first time during the 2019-20 school year who did not receive training:
- Districts must provide two days (14 hours) of training on the FCS by September 1, 2021.
- If possible, we recommend districts provide four days of training to these paraeducators, which will be reimbursed.
For the 2020-21 school year:
- New paraeducators hired on or before September 1, 2020:
- Districts must provide the first two days (14 hours) of training on the FCS by September 30, 2020.
- New paraeducators hired after September 1, 2020:
- For districts with 10,000 or more students, two days (14 hours) of the FCS must be provided within four months of the date of hire or by September 1, 2021, whichever is sooner.
- For districts with fewer than 10,000 students, two days (14 hours) of the FCS must be provided by September 1, 2021.
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 – 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.
- 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.
While only two days of FCS 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.