Depending on your district and/or position, the answer could be both. The Title I, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Paraeducator Requirements apply to paraeducators funded out of Title I or are working in a Title I school-wide. The Paraeducator Competencies apply to paraeducators who are funded out of Special Education. It is the district's decision to decide if all paraeducators must meet one or both of the requirements.
WAC 392-172A-02090 (f) Paraprofessional staff and aides shall present evidence of skills and knowledge necessary to meet the needs of students eligible for special education, and shall be under the supervision of a certificated teacher with a special education endorsement or a certificated educational staff associate, as provided in (g) of this subsection. Paraprofessional staff in Title 1 school-wide programs shall meet ESEA standards for paraprofessionals. Districts shall have procedures that ensure that classified staff receive training to meet state recommended core competencies pursuant to RCW 28A.415.310.
Below are the Title I and Special Education Laws pertaining to paraeducator requirements.
NCLB, Title I Paraeducator Requirements
The law states in Section 1119(g) that all paraprofessionals who are performing instructional duties and are funded with Title I funds, including all paraprofessionals performing instructional duties in a schoolwide building, must meet specific requirements.
These requirements are:
- Paraprofessionals must currently have a secondary school (high school) diploma or its recognized equivalent,
- Paraprofessionals must fulfill one of the following requirements:
- Complete at least two years of study at an institution of higher education; or
- Obtain an associate's (or higher) degree; or
- Meet a rigorous standard of quality and can demonstrate, through a formal state or local academic assessment,
- Knowledge of, and the ability to assist in instructing, reading, writing and mathematics;
- Knowledge of, and the ability to assist in instructing, reading readiness, writing readiness, and mathematics readiness as appropriate.
Washington's Solutions to Fulfill the Title I Requirement
- Complete two years of study at an institution of higher education.
For Washington, two years of study is defined as 72 quarter or 48 semester credits. The institution of higher education must be a nationally recognized accrediting agency that is public or non-profit and provides an educational program for which the institution awards a bachelor's degree or provides not less than a two-year program that is acceptable for full credit toward such a degree.
- Obtain an associate's (or higher) degree
Institutions of higher education, both four and two year institutions, grant several different types of associate's degrees. Any of these associate's degrees will fulfill this requirement.
- Formal Assessment
Paraprofessional's who do not qualify either through two years of study at an institution of higher education or an associate's degree must qualify to meet the requirement through one of the following four options designated as a formal assessment of rigorous standard of quality. (The means by which a paraeducator can meet this requirement is at the district's discretion.)
ParaPro Assessment developed by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), or
A process whereby school districts can evaluate their current assessment procedures to determine if they meet the rigorous standard of quality as defined by Section 1119 and the November 2002, US Department of Education non-regulatory guidance for Title I paraprofessionals, or
Completion of an approved Apprenticeship Program by the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council and registered with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. Instructional Assistant and Educational Paraprofessional Apprenticeship Program (approved by the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council registered with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries) are currently approved programs. Several other apprenticeship programs are undergoing review.
Washington State Core Competencies for Paraeducators
List of Core Competencies (PSESD website)