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Washington: Working in Education in Washington

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Teacher's Aides

State requirements for paraprofessionals in federally funded positions are different than requirements for all paraprofessionals in the state. Individual school districts may set qualifications that go beyond federal requirements. In fact, Washington is one of twelve states where requirements for paraprofessionals exceed federal requirements.

Teacher's aides in Yakima, Washington earn $15.23 to $16.50 an hour, less than custodians and bus drivers. The Yakima Association of Paraprofessionals, which represents 270 paraeducators, is negotiating a new contract with the Yakima School Board, aiming for a baseline salary of $16.25 an hour, according to a November 2009 article in the Yakima Herald-Republic. Many teacher’s aides must work two or three jobs or get public assistance in order to support their families, the article reported.

Washington provides assistance to paraeducators through:

  • Fourteen competencies of the Washington State Recommended Core Competencies that address paraeducator knowledge and skills. Professional development opportunities for teachers and paraeducators focus on ensuring a team approach to providing students with services and instruction.
  • Washington State Paraeducator Guidelines that provide options for paraeducators to meet requirements of No Child Left Behind legislation. Support programs include preparation classes, portfolio assessment workshops, and workshops in reading, math, and writing.

Technology Education

The state level Quality Education Council is exploring options for funding technology in basic education in Washington. In an October 2009 meeting of world-class thought leaders, the Washington superintendent of schools unveiled a vision of one-to-one computing in K-12 classrooms.

Washington has five approved online school programs run by state school districts. Online instructors deliver contents primarily though the Internet. One of the schools is full-time, while the others offer full- and part-time options. Three schools serve grades 9-12; one serves K-12, and one serves K-8.

In an effort to improve student access to computers, Computers 4 Kids (C4K) distributes surplus state computers to needy public schools. Due to state budget cuts, schools will face a new eligibility requirement and small refurbishing charges starting in 2010.

Curriculum and Instruction

Washington's Essential Academic Learning Requirements include grade-level expectations and provide the foundation of school districts' curriculum. State educational leaders emphasize the importance of the alignment of curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

The principal of an alternative school in Seattle initiated a project in which students built a traditional canoe as part of a Native American history curriculum. The canoe project, which teaches cooperation and self-respect in addition to boat carving and history, is part of a movement in Washington to develop alternative forms of assessment.

Educational Managers

Washington has two levels of certification for principals and program administrators, the Residency Administrator Certificate and the Professional Certificate. A Residency Administrator Certificate requires a master's degree from a regionally accredited college or university, completion of an approved administrator preparation program or three years of pre-K through 12 administrative experience, a valid teacher certificate, and validation of school-based teaching experience. The Professional Certificate is awarded to holders of the Residency Certificate who complete a Professional Certification Program at a Washington college or university.

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