Paraeducator Certificate Program

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Overview: Paraeducator Certificate Program

The Washington State Legislature recognizes that all instructional paraeducators need and deserve professional development opportunities and training to support successful academic outcomes for our students. Through a legislative directive (HB1115, 2017), the Paraeducator Certificate Program was created to meet this demand. The program includes new state standards of practice and professional development training to advance the skills and knowledge of paraeducators and to reduce the opportunity gap in education.

There are five (5) components to the program:

  • Fundamental Course of Study (FCS)

  • General Certificate

  • Subject Matter Certificate - ELL

  • Subject Matter Certificate - Special Education

  • Advanced Certificate

Of those, FCS and general certificate are required, if funded by the state legislature. The two subject matter certificates and the advanced certificate are optional.

All instructional paraeducators will be required to complete this training (FCS and General Certificate) for continued employment, regardless of education level or previous training.

(A paraeducator is defined as a “classified public school or school district employee who works under the supervision of a certificated or licensed staff member, from grades kindergarten to grade 12, to support and assist in providing instructional and other services to students and their families, including library assistants, and excluding bus monitors, lunchroom aides, and community service aides. Paraeducators are not considered certificated instructional staff.)

Click here to view the Paraeducator Certificate Program FAQ document created by PESB.



Step 1: Fundamental Course of Study (FCS)

The Paraeducator Certificate Program begins with the Fundamental Course of Study (FCS), a 28-hour training that focuses on the new paraeducator standards of practice and is completed over the course of two years. In Fife, we use a hybrid of in-person training and online modules to complete this requirement.

2022-2023 In-Person Training Dates

  • March 9 and 10 | Time/Location TBA

Online Modules (via PESB's website)


Once you have completed the two years of FCS training, you will receive a certificate of completion from Elaine Smith.
Please retain this document for future verification.

When your General Certificate is complete, you will need to document both the FCS and your General Certificate at that time.

Step 2: General Paraeducator Certificate

If funded by the Legislature, school districts are responsible for ensuring all employed paraeducators meet the requirements of the FCS and General Paraeducator Certificate (up to the funded amount). Following the completion of the 28 hours of FCS, a paraeducator must complete an additional 70 hours to earn the General Certificate.

General Certificate parameters are:

  • Clock hours issued by an approved OSPI provider.

  • Inform a paraeducator's practice.

  • Hours funded completed before the end of the school year.

Paraeducators are welcome to register for any courses that apply to your position on our district clock hour portal! You may also count college credits you have taken after the completion of your FCS! Remember, you can't start your General Paraeducator Certificate work until after your FCS is completed.

Reporting to OSPI: Once you are finished with your General Paraeducator Certificate course work, you will need to report this to OSPI (along with your FCS documentation) and purchase your General Certificate. Click here to view the E-Certification User Guide for Paraeducators. Please note: there is a delay in setting up your EDS account and the E-Certification app showing on your account. It may take up to one day, according to OSPI.

Optional: ELL & Special Education Subject Matter Certificates

As additional training, paraeducators may complete these two certificates and it will count towards the General Certificate hours (70), which, if funded, need to be done within 3 years after the 28 FCS hours are completed.

The certificate trainings will not count towards the FCS requirements. You must keep track of proof of completion and keep it to turn in with your completed FCS hours. They are available online via the PESB website.

As a reminder, the specialized ones expire every 5 years, and there is a cost to get the certificate which is not funded currently.