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Paraeducators — Requirements of Title I, Part A Federal Law
Updated August 16, 2017
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New! Transition from NCLB to ESSA
OSPI and school districts are shifting from NCLB to ESSA. ESSA removed the term “highly qualified” for paraeducators, just as it did for teachers. Instead, ESSA directs OSPI to develop minimum state standards. Every Student Succeeds Act on the OSPI website

  • Until ESSA is fully implemented, OSPI will continue to apply the federal standards used under NCLB and explained in the Title I, Part A Guide to Paraeducator Requirements.
  • OSPI is developing the new standards. By 2017–18, paraeducators who work in a Title I, Part A program must meet those standards.

School districts may continue to require additional standards for the paraeducators they employ.

Paraeducator Requirements
If you plan to work as a paraeducator in a school that operates a Title I, Part A schoolwide or targeted assistance program, you must meet the federal NCLB requirements — before hire. Elementary and Secondary Education Act ǀ Section 1119 (c) through (l)

Basic Education Qualifications
All paraeducators must have the first, essential credential —a high school diploma or GED (General Educational Development). Paraeducators can provide a copy of their high school diploma — transcripts are not necessary.

With this credential in place, there are three educational pathways and one evaluation option a potential paraeducator can take to meet federal requirements.

  1. Two years of study at an institution of higher education. The institution you choose must meet five criteria of the Higher Education Act, Section 101(a). All classes must be at level 100 or higher.
  2. Associate degree or higher. All associate degrees are acceptable.
  3. Pass the ETS ParaPro Assessment. The assessment measures skills, and content knowledge related to reading, writing and math. Contact ETS 800-772-9476 or visit ETS ParaPro Assessment.
  4. Washington paraeducator portfolio or apprenticeship program — completed previously. Those meeting the apprenticeship requirements must present a journeycard or certificate. The portfolio and apprenticeships are no longer offered for enrollment, however OSPI will continue to honor this pathway.

Qualifications Vary By District
Be aware that districts can require more education or higher credentials. Contact district staff where you plan to work and find out what requirements you must meet. Many districts require all paraeducators to meet Title I, Part A requirements because of the flexibility it affords as they assign paraeducators to different duties.

Special Education — Additional Requirements for Paraeducators
Paraeducators must meet the 14 competencies — knowledge and skills — necessary to support students with disabilities consistent with WAC 392-172A-02090 (1) (f). In Title I, Part A schools, paraeducators, who work in a special education programs, must meet the core competencies for special education and the requirements of Title I, Part A, ESEA Section 1119 (c) through (f).

   Updated 8/17/2017

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