About Project Para - Expectations / Common Questions
A paraeducator is an individual employed to perform instructional and related non-instructional duties in school settings under the direction of a certificated teacher or administrator. Other terms used for the position of paraeducator include paraprofessional, teaching assistant, and instructional aide. Early Childhood Paraeducators are used at age levels (birth to 5) and work with students either indirectly, on a one-to-one basis, or in small and large groups.
The Paraeducator Self Study Program is a web-based method for school districts to provide introductory training for their paraeducators. It contains several units pertaining to paraeducators' roles and responsibilities, and core knowledge and skills in reinforcing instruction. It is intended to be supplemental to the training provided by school districts, and assists schools in meeting the paraeducator training requirements of Title-I and 3 of 12 credits for Early Childhood.
Project PARA is a school based instructional resource that is designed to give schools optimal flexibility in how they decide to use the program. It contains fourteen units and three assessments that cover a variety of topics to aid paraeducators with the development of skills needed to work effectively in a classroom setting.
How is Project PARA Organized?
Project PARA has an organizational structure that flows from the school administrator downward. When a school is registered, it is given a login and from this login, it can add records for as many instructors and participants as it needs. The school administrator can either add instructors and/or play a dual role as both the school administrator and an instructor. It is from the instructor resources that schools add records for participants.
What is a participating school expected to do?
Schools that participate with Project PARA must agree to provide an instructor or mentor to oversee the participants that they register. There are online resources for reviewing and scoring work submitted by their participants. Each unit has a pretest, one or more activities and a posttest that must be evaluated by the instructor. The pretest and all but three of the posttests are short answer and scored automatically, however the activities and three of the posttests have essay questions that need to be read and evaluated. The instructor must evaluate each unit as a whole on a 'pass' or 'fail' basis.
How much of the program is a paraeducator required to do?
Each participating school can decide how much of the program is useful to their situation and may assign any or all of the units according to their needs. For example, a district may choose to only have paraeducators complete Module 15. This will be enough for the district, but it will not be enough to earn the certificate through Para.
How much time does it take a paraeducator to do the units?
The data that we have is based on the unit evaluations. This information is voluntary and self-reporting, but the average time reported is approximately 2 hours per unit.
Is there any kind of certificate available upon completion?
The program does not offer a completion certificate for the entire program. This program is designed to be a supplementary tool to help schools provide training. There are, however three certificates of completion offered for portions of the units. Two of these are significant only to participants from Nebraska, as they provide a completion certificate for the requirements for NCLB and for Early Childhood requirements as approved by the Nebraska Department of Education. The third certificate of completion is offered by Project PARA to participants who have completed the set of Special Education units which are designed as the core units to the project.
When a participant has completed the requirements for each of the certificates, and this has been verified online by their instructor, a printable certificate will download from the Instructor Resources. Please note: the certificates of completion are offered as a commendation for work completed for the project but do not have any kind of affiliation with the University of Nebraska.
How much does it cost to register and use this program?
This program has been generously supported by the Nebraska Department of Education and is currently offered without charge. It is possible, however, that in the future, the project may have to institute a fee system for its use. Project PARA has been offering its online program since 1995 and will continue to do so free of charge for as long as possible.