Paraeducators in Washington would receive a career boost under a plan sponsored by Sen. Andy Hill, which passed in the Senate today. Paraeducators provide more than half of the instruction for special education students leading to a need to create standards as well as certification and endorsement processes to provide a career pathway.
“Our children have diverse and specialized ways of learning,” said Hill. “Paraeducators are an essential link between many of our children and successful learning. This bill recognizes their expertise and strengthens their path to become teachers that will help close the opportunity gap.”
The legislation would provide the first career standards in the nation for paraeducators. Previously, paraeducators received little training from school districts with limited state hiring standards. Paraeducators have the most impact on students in Transitional Bilingual Instructional Programs (TBIP), Learning Assistance Programs (LAP), Federal Disadvantaged (Title I), Federal Limited English Proficiency Program and Special Education.
“Many of the students receiving paraeducator support are english language learners,” said Hill. “By giving paraeducators a path to becoming teachers, we will dramatically increase the cultural competency of our state’s teachers. This is a major step for helping to ensure all students receive a quality education.”
In 2014, Hill introduced legislation to create a workgroup in the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) to establish these standards and processes. This year’s follow up legislation was developed based on the recommendations from the PESB.