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Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: para-education

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January 7, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Guest: Para-educators provide vital outreach to state’s most vulnerable students

Kim Wilson PSE President

Kim Wilson

Corrected version

From guest columnist Kim Wilson:

Education is changing. Our schools are turning to para-educators to supplement instruction, especially in programs that serve at risk students.

Para-educators are education’s equivalent to paralegals, paramedics and physician assistants. However, unlike paramedics and paralegals, para-educators in Washington state have inadequate standards and insufficient support to effectively serve their students.

Most para-educators receive little training before being sent into our classrooms, often to provide instruction to our most vulnerable students.

Public School Employees of Washington is asking lawmakers to change this by introducing legislation that would create professional standards and training programs for para-educators. The proposed bill directs the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop a long overdue specific new training program for para-educators.

The use of para-educators is a trend that makes sense. Using para-educators puts more educators in the classroom in a cost efficient manner. It is para-educators, not teachers, who provide more than half of all the instruction time to students who are struggling in Washington.

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