NCEDC TIPS: Distance Education

Paraeducators of Kentucky

NCEDC Colleagues,

Following is information about the Paraeducators of Kentucky as submitted by NCEDC technical assistance/dissemination committee member:

Beth Rous, Director, Community Education and Early Childhood
Interdisciplinary Human Development Institute, University of Kentucky
126 Mineral Industries Building
Lexington, KY 40506-0051
P:859-257-9116; F:859-257-2769; email; internet

Beth, Thank you so much for this contribution.
Feel free to share this with other colleagues and partners in your state.

The Paraeducators of Kentucky (PEK) project is a State Improvement Grant funded project through the Kentucky Department of Education. Throughout the last four years, this project has focused on the adoption of standards and competencies for paraeducators throughout the Commonwealth and development and provision of training modules that address the validated standards and competencies. Beginning the final year of funding, the PEK project is completing the last of eight training modules and working with the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) on various paraeducator initiatives.

In the past year, the PEK has helped the KDE to address the issues surrounding paraeducator qualifications through the development of a Kentucky Paraeducator Assessment and accompanying Kentucky Paraeducator Assessment Study Guide. The assessment is designed to meet the intent of the rigorous academic assessment at the second year college level stipulated by the No Child Left Behind Act. The actual assessment is an on-line assessment administered at the local school district level and covers the areas of reading, writing, math, and instructional strategies.

In addition to working with the KDE upon the development of the Kentucky Paraeducator Assessment, the PEK project was also a collaborating partner with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) during 2002 and 2003 in the development of a 16-18 Certificate program and a two-tiered AAS degree program. As a collaborative partner, PEK staff assisted with development of the curriculum for these programs which have been adopted as a system-wide curriculum. The AAS program is designed to allow paraeducators to choose between becoming a Teacher Associate or entering a Teacher Preparation program in a four-year level program. This is part of a new 2+2 initiative among the KCTCS and 4-year institutions. This is being promoted as one avenue to recruit teacher candidates.

The PEK staff has also provided networking opportunities for paraeducators during the last three years through the offering of an annual paraeducator conference. In 2003, the conference was a 2-day event with the offering of concurrent 3-hour workshops over the two days. Paraeducators were offered topics in reading, writing, math, learning styles, behavior, crisis intervention, and specific topics regarding areas of disabilities. Evaluation results indicate the conference was well-received by paraeducators; however, they desired shorter sessions and offering the sessions more than once.

The PEK staff continues to advocate for the advancement of paraeducators, both in the offering of professional development opportunities and career advancement opportunities. Included in the on-going initiatives are such projects as the development of portfolio guidelines, the development of a proposed career path for paraeducators and employment coordinators (also known as job coaches), and determining ways to effectively meet the professional development needs of local education agencies and paraeducators.

For more information, contact:

Barbara Locker, Specialist
Paraeducator of Kentucky Project
University of Kentucky
219 Mineral Industries
Lexington, KY 40506-0051
(859) 257-2080
Fax: (859) 323-1901