For Immediate Release: Wednesday, June 26, 2002
Universities Offer Options to Prepare Classroom Paraprofessionals
ABERDEEN Hundreds of teacher aides in South Dakota face new educational requirements enacted by the federal government, and South Dakotas public higher education system is gearing up to provide assistance.
As part of President Bushs No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, paraprofessionals who assist teachers in classrooms supported by federal Title I dollars must have completed at least two years of postsecondary study, obtained at least an associates degree, or have demonstrated 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.
South Dakotas public universities already offer several options for paraprofessionals who are ready to start their postsecondary work right now, said Robert T. Tad Perry, the Regents executive director. All six state universities currently offer the Associate of Arts degree in General Studies. In addition, the 30-hour system general education requirements provide an excellent base of study, Perry said. Either of these current options will give paraprofessionals a leg up on the career ladder, because all the courses meet requirements for preparation as a certified teacher, he said.
Most of the courses for the General Studies degree are offered online or through the states Digital Dakota Network, Perry noted. The 30-hour general education requirements are all available online as well.
Meeting this week in Aberdeen, the South Dakota Board of Regents will begin the process to develop new Associate of Arts degrees at Black Hills State University and Northern State University for paraprofessionals in the K-12 classroom.
For many teacher aides who lack the necessary postsecondary education, this specially packaged two-year degree will be a good fit, Perry said. We expect the coursework to be focused on reading, writing, and math concepts and the methods of assisting instruction in these core subjects.
Board President Harvey C. Jewett said the new federal education law acknowledges the important role of teacher quality in promoting student achievement. Our South Dakota public universities have been leaders in teacher education for years, Jewett said. We can provide that same kind of quality preparation for people assisting teachers in the classroom.
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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