Paraprofessionals As Certified Educators


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Training Paraprofessionals to Teach in Urban Districts

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Paraprofessionals As Certified Educators

  1. 1. Paraprofessionals As Certified Educators Training Paraprofessionals to Teach in Urban Districts
  2. 2. A Presentation at the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals Conference <ul><li>Pamela Owen Brucker, Ed.D. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Southern Connecticut State University </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Dana Corriveau, Consultant </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Connecticut State Department of </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Education </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Why Paraprofessionals? <ul><li>Experience working with students </li></ul><ul><li>Experience with school district and district policies </li></ul><ul><li>Connections to the urban community </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge of diverse cultures </li></ul>
  4. 4. What does literature tell us? <ul><li>Special Education is a shortage area </li></ul><ul><li>Severe shortages of teachers with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds </li></ul><ul><li>Having diverse teachers may reduce overrepresentation of minorities in SPED ( Tyler, Usquiderdo,Lopez-Reyna, & Flippin, 2002) </li></ul>
  5. 5. More evidence <ul><li>Students may perform better when they have teachers who mirror their race or ethnicity (Tyler, Usquiderdo,Lopez-Reyna, & Flippin, 2002) </li></ul><ul><li>Urban districts in CT have a high rate of attrition: more than double that of suburban districts (Special Education, CT State Improvement Grant, 2005) </li></ul>
  6. 6. More about Paraprofessionals in CT <ul><li>CT State Department of Education identified 2206 paraprofessionals working in the most disadvantaged urban districts </li></ul><ul><li>In a survey of these paraprofessionals, 50% had an Associates Degree or higher, 27% held Bachelors Degree or higher (Glen Martin Associates, 2001) </li></ul>
  7. 7. More about Paraprofessionals in CT <ul><li>In this survey, 26% indicated that they would be interested in pursuing a teaching certificate. </li></ul><ul><li>10% of these paraprofessionals already held a teaching certificate </li></ul>
  8. 8. What Barriers Exist ? <ul><li>Financial Considerations </li></ul><ul><li>• Work Schedules </li></ul><ul><li>• Proximity of Classes </li></ul><ul><li>• Years since completing last degree </li></ul><ul><li>• Mentoring Support </li></ul><ul><li>• Family Obligations </li></ul>?
  9. 9. Activities Leading Up to PACE Program <ul><li>2000-2001: CES paraprofessionals </li></ul><ul><ul><li>20 paraprofessionals with BS degrees </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No tuition reimbursement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Evening classes - three classes at CES </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>9 paraprofessionals completed SPED certification and are teaching. Most have finished MS degree. </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Next cohort <ul><li>2002-2004 New Haven Paraprofessionals </li></ul><ul><li>Funding for 3 classes from NH B of E </li></ul><ul><li>Remaining funding for tuition and books from FIPSE (Federal) Grant </li></ul><ul><li>10 paraprofessionals completed SPED certification and are teaching </li></ul>
  11. 11. Current PACE Program <ul><li>Up to 120 paraprofessionals in four districts: New Haven, Hartford, Bridgeport, and Waterbury </li></ul><ul><li>New Haven started in 2005 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Total of 18 paraprofessionals; 15 completed coursework and certified or DSAPed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3 undergraduates completing program </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Current PACE cont. <ul><li>Hartford: 9 paraprofessionals </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Completing coursework in summer 2008 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2 DSAPed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>• Bridgeport: recruitment begun </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Goals of PACE Program <ul><li>Provide a pool of Highly Qualified Special Education Teachers for the urban areas </li></ul><ul><li>Maintain racial, ethic, and/or linguistic diversity of at least 50% </li></ul><ul><li>Develop a replication guide for use in urban districts to “ grow their own” </li></ul>
  14. 14. SCSU’s goals under the grant: #4 Develop a long range plan for sustaining recruitment and retention of teachers in urban areas. #3 There will be an increase in the diversity of the special education teaching workforce in targeted districts. #2. Urban LEAs will have a pool of licensed special educators from which to draw to fill personnel vacancies. #1. 120 paraprofessionals will be trained and earn licensure as special education teachers. Long Term Objectives: A teacher licensure program will be established which will recruit, enroll, support, and assist paraprofessionals currently employed in targeted CT school districts.         Project Goal:
  15. 15. Connecticut’s State Performance Plan is tied in <ul><li>Six year plan for special education in Connecticut in 20 different areas </li></ul><ul><li>Have to report our progress annually to the federal government </li></ul><ul><li>Areas that relate to this grant: </li></ul><ul><li>Indicator 9 and 10: Disproportionate representation of students by race/ethnicity in special education and in specific disability categories. </li></ul><ul><li>Indicator 5: Least Restrictive Environment Settings </li></ul>WHY? Research tells us that there is a correlation between the diversity of the teaching staff in relation to the diversity of the student population – culturally relevant instruction and understanding of cultural differences.
  16. 16. How is the grant assessed? <ul><li>Federal level – annual report every year </li></ul><ul><li>State level – progress reports every six months, site visits, focus groups </li></ul><ul><li>Outside evaluator – impartial, skilled in research and evaluation </li></ul><ul><li>LEA level data in personnel and staffing… </li></ul><ul><li>??? SPP indicators 5, 9, and 10 (we’re getting there) </li></ul>
  17. 17. Some questions we ask when we evaluate: <ul><li>Are the people in the grant getting trained and know how to use scientifically- or evidence-based practices? What percent of those people? </li></ul><ul><li>How many candidates have/will have certification? By when? </li></ul><ul><li>Are the candidates going back to the urban area they were in, or leaving? Why? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the barriers for candidates to proceed in the program? (sustainability and replication) </li></ul>
  18. 18. How are barriers addressed? <ul><li>All tuition, books and materials are paid </li></ul><ul><li>Classes are held in district on public transportation </li></ul><ul><li>Classes are held after work day </li></ul><ul><li>Food and childcare stipends are given </li></ul><ul><li>Praxis tutorials are held ( bilingual) </li></ul><ul><li>Mentors are provided </li></ul>
  19. 19. Lessons Learned <ul><li>1. You need buy in and support from central office or your Board of Education – especially in light of changing leadership </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Contracts, agreements </li></ul></ul><ul><li>You need to know what the expectations of the district are </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Release time from work, mentoring support, student teaching/fieldwork opportunities </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Lessons Learned <ul><li>Establish your goals/objectives early </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What data do you already have? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What data do you need to start collecting – how? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What do you want your end result to be? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Data collection – start early and be clear about what you are collecting </li></ul><ul><li>Contacts needed at the university to help you navigate the system – admissions process, tuition payments, credits, classes </li></ul><ul><li>Be realistic about the amount of resources this takes – financial and human! </li></ul>