Embargoed for Release: Saturday, August 10, 2002
New Degrees at BHSU, NSU Prepare Classroom Paraprofessionals
SPEARFISH The South Dakota Board of Regents Saturday approved a new associate degree at Black Hills State University and Northern State University that will help South Dakotas teacher aides comply with federal educational requirements.
The Associate of Science degree in Paraprofessional Education will be offered starting this fall. The 64-credit degree, which can be completed in two years, focuses on general education and more specific courses needed by classroom paraprofessionals.
This new degree offers a sound grounding in the liberal arts, along with specialized coursework essential for those assisting in K-12 classrooms, said Regents President Harvey C. Jewett.
Curriculum includes 21 credit hours in general education-required courses in the areas of mathematics, science, composition, psychology, speech, and computer technology. Other courses prepare the paraprofessional in educational psychology, teaching strategies, mathematics, childrens literature, classroom instructional management, and special education. An additional 18-19 elective credits complete the degree requirements.
When Congress reauthorized federal education law late last year, it required paraprofessionals who assist teachers in classrooms supported by federal Title I dollars to complete at least two years of postsecondary study, obtain an associates degree, or demonstrate knowledge of and the ability to assist with instruction in reading, writing, and mathematics. These federal requirements apply to any new aides hired for the 2002-03 school term, and will apply to all eligible paraprofessionals by the end of the 2005-06 term. There are an estimated 1,700 K-12 education paraprofessionals employed in South Dakota.
In addition to the new associate degree, South Dakotas public universities have other options for paraprofessional educators. All six state universities currently offer the Associate of Arts degree in General Studies, which includes the 30-hour system general education requirements. These are good options for students who may further their education down the road, since they would apply toward a bachelors degree or preparation as a certified teacher, said Robert T. Tad Perry, the Regents executive director.
Most of the courses are widely available through distance delivery, including the states Digital Dakota Network, Internet, or correspondence. K-12 paraprofessionals are encouraged to view and register for current undergraduate distance education courses offered through the Regents Electronic University Consortium of South Dakota at http://www.hpcnet.org/euc/paraprofessionals.
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