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Utah Paraprofessional Consortium

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Paraprofessional Consortium Meeting Minutes May 5, 2004

The mission of the Utah Paraprofessional Consortium is to promote training and support for paraprofessionals leading to improved outcomes for children, youth and families.


Marilyn Likins, Peggy Dooling-Baker, Connie Nink, Pat Ault, Deanna Avis, Carol Harrington, Elizabeth Jensen, Sharon Grey, Ronda Menlove, Bob Morgan, Peggy Fratto, Bruce Schroeder, Larry Abplanalp, Diana Fillmore, Beth Rodriguz, Ginny Wimmer, Linda Alsop, Michele Friz, John Latkiewicz and Mary Baldwin

Peggy Dooling-Baker welcomed everyone and opened the meeting. Introductions were made and Peggy reviewed today’s meeting agenda.

PARAgraph Update – Carol Harrington
Carol Harrington stated that funds have been secured for the last issue of the PARAgraph and she will be meeting with Bruce Schroeder regarding the funding issue. If anyone is interested in submitting an article, please contact Carol.

DATC Paraeducator Program Update – Michele Friz
Michele Friz is the Paraeducator Program Instructor for the Davis Applied Technology College. Michele highlighted the paraeducator program being offered through the Davis Applied Technology College. This program prepares individuals to work in schools as Paraeducators. It has already been approved by the Board of Regents.

Michele stated that the program standards were based on state and national standards. Many were taken from the NRCP document, Guidelines for Strengthening Paraeducator and Teacher Teams. During the externship, students have an opportunity to work with children in a school setting such as Davis School District. The program is considered an open entry and open exit which means student may enroll at any time and work at their own pace. Students register and pay fees for seat hours. 675 total course hours is about 20 credits but currently the program hours do not transfer to community colleges or universities. An ATC paraeducator certificate has been approved through the Board of Regents. To receive the certificate, paraeducators must take all of the core courses. Courses include: computer literacy, workplace relations, job seeking skills, math I, introduction to education, positive learning environments, how children learn and grow, safety and first aid in schools, communication, instructional strategies, reading instruction, diversity in education and externship. She stated that down the road, electives will be developed to address issues such as preschool, more on reading/math instruction, and special education.

Larry Abplanalp asked if they would be willing to train outside of DATC and Michele stated that students have to go on campus to acquire credit at this time.

Full tuition is full time (6 hours per day 5 days a week.) If the program grows, they will add more instructors or a teacher assistant.

Carol Harrington, editor of the PARAgraph, stated that SLCC will be providing an article about its program and it would be nice if DATC would also provide an article letting paraeducators know that it is available. It would also be helpful to provide this information on the web site to alert people to these training opportunities. Ronda Menlove suggested a “training options” matrix outlining various training programs, contact information, etc. would be most helpful in understanding what the programs offer and expense involved.

The University of Phoenix has agreed along with SLCC to accept course work from DATC. The University of Phoenix does not provide a 2-year certificate for paraeducators. DATC training can be used in the state portfolio assessment process. The courses should also help paraeducators with passing ETS’s ParaPro.

SLCC Standard-Based Paraeducator Program at the Skill Center--John Latkiewicz
John stated that the faculty of the pre-teacher education program is proposing to move the four core paraeducator courses into its pre-teacher education program and create a paraeducator track under that program. The courses would become electives with the pre-teacher education program. Additionally, the SLCC Skills Center is proposing to provide the paraeducator coursework on a competency-based, open-entry/open-exit basis as either a parallel effort or as an alternative effort.

The Skills Center offers non-credit education and training although the college is working to establish bridges between the Skills Center’s non-credit training and its community college pre-teacher program. John stated the Skills Center focuses on disadvantaged populations (e.g., single parent families, low SES.) He stated they work very closely with the students at the skill center and the idea is to evaluate students at an individualized pace. John stated that the program would offer the same quality and competency- based training as the current paraeducator program. John stated that we do not want our students to be at a disadvantage, but would like them to be able to flow right into an accredited program at a university.
A discussion followed regarding who would qualify, i.e., unskilled mothers, people who are looking to improve their skills, not necessarily a degree. Pat Ault stated that she would be working with John to ensure that the “highly qualified” status would be obtainable in both the credit or non-credit programs and would work to create articulation agreements with other universities to allow those interested to pursue a teaching career.

Larry stated there are many options for Paraeducators to meet the Highly qualified criteria. They include: ETS’s Parapro, individual district assessments, and portfolios. Paraeducators have the desire to obtain additional training but many do not have the funds - in the end, they want to be highly qualified. After January 2006, Title I paraeducators have to be highly qualified. How do we facilitate people becoming “highly qualified” and pursue their goals if they want a bachelors or teaching degree. The associate degree would make paraeducators highly qualified. Many paraeducators are highly qualified in practice but not on paper. Marilyn stated that paraeduators need to have choices. They need to have options to meet the NCLB criteria and those should be flexible. They need to know the training they take counts for something and that they have the option of moving into a teacher training program if they want. The discussion ended with designating a sub committee to facilitate a conversation with institutions of higher education to work on articulation agreements with the various pareducator training programs. Pat Ault would help spearhead this effort.

Web-Based Associate Program - Bob Morgan and Ronda Menlove
Ronda stated that a four year degree is required at USU, but have various programs at different sites that have a 2-year associate degrees. We need a paraeducator degree that would be a step toward a bachelor degree. USU extension has been working with early childhood degree and now will be working toward developing a paraeducator degree. It will be center-based at our sites not on campus and will be designed and implemented as a web-based training option for Paraeducators. Ronda stated the program is in the embryonic stage and when paraeducators receive an associate degree, they will be able to move onto a 4-year degree if they desire. USU wants a program where paraeducators can do it on their time meeting with a local interactive study group on a regular basis to answer questions and to review material.

Bob stated that at the embryonic stage we looked nationally and found16 programs based on knowledge and skill competencies. Twelve were on-line. Upon examination of the courses, they frequently cross referenced with CEC standards for paraeducators. Based on the review, a set of courses were identified that we feel comfortable with and will result in an associate degrees and articulate with a 4 year degree program. Articulation will be difficult and local logistics is a problem. The program is hoping to produce highly qualified people. They will have web assignments with chat rooms, not live audio, local groups will be highly interactive and will have a mentor (a mentor could be a district office person or a person in the building) and instructor working together. It will not be a cheap model. A local group for paraeducators is important to be able to get corrective feedback. Bob reiterated the need to get information out to the rural areas. Will have conference calls, online communication (emails). The human resources is already out there and will be of service to the programs. There will be practicum available. Marilyn stated we need to be clear of the outcomes, costs for these paraeducators and flexibility. If we can find a means of partially supporting students financially, I think we be amazed at how many would sign-up for the programs.

It was suggested that the PARAGraph have an article on funding that is available. It is important that paraeducators know about financial aide possibilities.

SLCC Advisory Board Discussion – Pat Ault
Pat deferred this items to the next meeting. Peggy stated at last meeting several committee members volunteered for the PAC. They included: Carol Harrington, Ginny Wimmer, Deanna Avis, Marilyn Likins and Elizabeth Jensen. If anyone else is interested, please get with Pat.

Other Items
The Standards Committee met and have recommendations. It will be on the agenda in June.

An Articulation committee will be formed to bring universities to the table and talk about the various programs now available. The committee members include: Pat Ault, Marilyn Likins, Michele Friz, Carol Harrington, Linda Alsop, Beth Rodriguez, Bob Morgan, Ronda Menlove, John Latkiewicz, Gerry Bolin, and Betty Ashbaker.

Marilyn announced that 24th National Paraeducator Conference will join with the 10th Annual State Conference and be held in SLC at the Little America on April 21st, 22nd, and 23rd, 2005.

Summer Meeting Dates
June 24th at 1:00 – 3:00
Larry Miller campus.
Will be notified of specific meeting location