Often working without fanfare and behind the scenes, paraeducators are many times the lifeline for teachers to provide the individual attention students need to unlock their potential. Through continuous daily successes, students are frequently given the opportunity to maximize their education because of the efforts of paraeducators.
Why is certification beneficial?
A certified paraeducator is prepared to begin employment aware of instructional strategies, behavioral strategies, working with a diverse student population, working in a variety of educational settings, developing professional relationships with other educational staff members and ethical responsibilities of the profession.
As many school districts require paraeducators to hold an Iowa Paraeducator Certificate in order to be hired, a certified paraeducator is more likely to be hired over someone who is not certified.
Paraeducator Generalist Certification - Level I
Prerequisite for Obtaining Certification
The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners (BoEE) requires that all individuals applying for a Paraeducator Generalist Certification must be a minimum of 18 years of age and must have a high school diploma or graduate equivalent diploma (GED). The BoEE will accept the following types of verification:
- Photocopy of high school diploma
- Photocopy of high school transcripts with graduation date
- Photocopy of certificate of GED completion
- Letter from school district the applicant graduated from with year graduated listed
- Letter from GED program completed including year completed
- Letter from State Department of Education verifying graduation or GED completion
Paraeducator Generalist Certification Courses
To obtain a Paraeducator Generalist Certification, you must successfully complete the following three courses:
Course 1: Paraeducator Generalist Certification Program - Course I Introduction/Foundation
This course is the introduction to the necessary skills paraeducators will need to be prepared to meet the demands of their supportive roles within a classroom. Included in this course are the foundational skills for working as a paraeducator in Iowa schools and essential skills for providing ethical and professional practice.
Course 2: Paraeducator Generalist Certification Program - Course II Instructional Support
This course will include the essential skills for developing learning environments, content and instruction and ethical and professional practice competencies. Participants will gain the skills and strategies needed to implement, assist, support and maintain a safe environment, educational activities, team interventions and technology integration when working with colleagues, students, parents and others.
Course 3: Paraeducator Generalist Certification Program - Course III Behavioral Supports
Prerequisite: The participant must have completed Paraeducator Courses I and II before taking this course.
Participants will gain knowledge, skills and strategies to assist, support and maintain the positive social, emotional and behavioral development of children. This course will continue to include the essential skills for developing ethical and professional practice competencies.
Each of the three Paraeducator Generalist Certification courses involves face-to-face meetings and completion of online units. Participants need to have access to a computer and the Internet to complete these courses.
To find current paraeducator course(s) on our Professional Development Catalog, search under the subject category “Paraeducator.” The catalog is updated as courses become available.
Paraeducator Generalist Certification - Level II
Adding an Area of Concentration
You must have been issued your Paraeducator Generalist Certificate by the BoEE prior to completing an Area of Concentration course in order to receive a Level II certification (Area of Concentration) or use the credit from that course to renew your Paraeducator Generalist Certificate.
Paraeducator Area of Concentration Courses
Adding an Area of Concentration for Level II certification requires successful completion of 45 clock hours (3 credits) of training in the area of concentration.
Areas of Concentration:
Participants will gain understanding of the nature of serving students with special needs.
Participants will gain knowledge, skills and strategies to assist, support and maintain the positive social, emotional and behavioral development of early childhood students and early childhood students with special needs (birth to grade 3 with an emphasis on ages 3-5).
English as a Second Language (ESL)
Participants will gain knowledge, skills and strategies to assist and support ESL students.
Library, Media & Technology
Participants will develop skills and strategies in library, media and technology to support the K-12 school teacher librarian in the operation of the school library.
To find the current course(s) on our Professional Development Catalog, search under the subject category “Paraeducator.” The catalog is updated as courses become available.
The Substitute Authorization allows an individual who holds a Paraeducator Generalist Certification to substitute in the special education classroom where the person serves as a paraeducator for no more than 5 consecutive days and no more than 10 days in one month. To find the course Substitute Authorization: Fostering Student Learning as a Substitute on our Professional Development Catalog, search under the subject category “Substitute.” The catalog is updated as courses become available.
How to Renew a Paraeducator Certification