Paraprofessional Highly Qualified Status
IU 29 recognizes several ways to determine highly Qualified Status
for a paraprofessional
- Highly Qualified status must be obtained within 3 months of hire date
to continue employment.
- Proof of the Highly Qualified status can be
demonstrated in the following ways:
- Copy of Associates degree or higher
- Copy of college transcripts
reflecting 48 credits or higher
- Copy of the Pennsylvania Special
Education Paraeducator Credential of Competency through PDE
Proof of Highly Qualified status must be presented to the Program
Supervisor and will be placed in their personnel file
Questions and Answers Regarding Qualifications (and
Standard of Quality as Demonstrated through a State or Local
- Will the state or local assessment be
more than a test? If so, give examples. Will the credential program
offered by PDE via PaTTAN satisfy the requirements?
The current Pennsylvania Special Education Paraeducator
Credential of Competency will satisfy the requirement. It is based
on ten performance-based standards identified by The Council for
Exceptional Children (CEC) as necessary for a special education
paraeducator to know or be able to do in order to work effectively
with students in special education programs. PDE has endorsed the
use of these ten CEC performance-based standards and their
corresponding required knowledge and skills, as they define the
basic content for the initial preparation and practice of special
education paraeducators. Training covers a broad range of topics,
such as the special education process, including assessment and
progress monitoring, supporting the use of assistive technology in
the classroom, effective behavior management and supporting students
in inclusive settings.
The performance-based standards include statements of the knowledge
and skills needed by paraeducators to work successfully in
educational environments. Any "rigorous standard of quality as
demonstrated through a state or local assessment" should at a
minimum address the ten standards (below). If the employing entity
uses a local assessment, it is to be based on the ten standards and
reflected in the entity's Special Education Plan or Early
Intervention Training Plan. No specific approval from PDE is needed
for the local assessment.
These rigorous standards of quality, as demonstrated through a state
or local assessment, are detailed in the materials and resources
available on the PaTTAN website, and may be accessed at
- Standard #1: Foundations of Special Education
- Standard #2: Development and Characteristics of Learners
- Standard #3: Individual Learning Differences
- Standard #4: Instructional Strategies
- Standard #5: Learning Environments and Social Interactions
- Standard #6: Language
- Standard #7: Instructional Planning
- Standard #8: Assessment
- Standard #9: Professional and Ethical Practice
- Standard #10: Collaboration
Credential of competency webinars are available at
Copy of the certificate of each webinar must be turned in for credit
toward the 20 hours.
- How does PDE plan to address
paraprofessionals moving in from out of state? What if an individual
passed some sort of requirement in another state; will there be
This is a matter for local discretion and will not be
addressed by the Department. The local public entity would have
discretion to determine whether previous training would count toward
the 20 hour staff development requirement, and whether previous
credits or credentials would meet the "rigorous standard".
- Do the paraprofessional qualifications
apply to substitute paraprofessionals? If so, what is their
This is a matter of local discretion; however PDE will
encourage local entities to consider the length of time for which
the person is substituting in making this determination.
- When a school district or other public
entity uses different terminology and job titles than those
described in the regulations, do the regulations apply to those
different names and titles?
Districts, staff, and other public entities should not rely
on their own specific titles, but compare what the individual does
in the position to the definitions of instructional paraprofessional
and personal care assistant, as outlined in Section 14.105.
Individuals whose job descriptions match those definitions must
satisfy the requirements.
- Must every instructional
paraprofessional have completed two years of post secondary
education by 2010?
By July 1, 2010, there is an option to take two years of post
secondary education, complete an Associate's Degree, or meet a
rigorous standard of quality as demonstrated through a state or
local assessment. PDE has determined that 48 credit hours would
constitute two years of post secondary education as described in