Training and standards for paraprofessionals has been spotty over the years. In 2004, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) established standards for paras who worked in Title I schools to become highly qualified. In response, the AFT developed the Meeting Standards for Paraprofessionals (MSP) course that helped many paras meet the Title I requirements nationwide. Recently, in Florida, the governor signed the Florida Differentiated Accountability (FLDA) law, which mandated all paraprofessionals in non-Title I schools to be highly qualified
by the 2011-2012 school year. The Polk Education Association (PEA) had traveled a similar road before.

PEA president Mary Ann Capoziello wanted to make sure her members had multiple paths to meet the new requirements. Working with the Polk district administration, the AFT state affiliate, Florida Education Association (FEA) and the AFT, she organized classes using the AFT Educational Research & Dissemination (ER&D) MSP course to train and test paras on reading and math skills. To date, PEA has offered seven classes assisted by trainers from Pinellas, Putnam and Lake counties. This year more than 90 paras met the high standard and learned the background knowledge necessary to be skillful instructors for Polk students. Overall, more than 250 instructional PEA paras have been helped to become highly effective.

MSP participants from PEA praised the course content because it gave them background information and increased their understanding of key reading and math concepts. Capoziello highlighted the importance of this training. “This is quality information tied to classroom effectiveness,” she said. “My paras tell me the knowledge they gained from this training has helped them support student learning and their children’s and grandchildren’s learning at home. PEA wants to make sure members have more than one avenue to learn vital information to be great coaches and cheerleaders so students can achieve.


Get NCLB Facts on Highly Qualified

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