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For Paraeducators

Laura Smith

Assistant Regional Administrator - Region 1

Glenda Suckow

Office Assistant - Special Education

Overview and Guidance from the Iowa Department of Education


Keystone AEA's certification programs are specifically designed for paraeducators already employed by one of the 23 school districts within Keystone AEA1 region.  Paraeducators working in districts outside of Keystone AEA should contact their local AEA to enroll in their program.  Individuals interested in becoming a paraeducator in order to obtain a school district job should contact their local community college to enroll in their program.

Paraeducators interested in certification must be at least 18 years of age, and show proof of a high school diploma or GED.

Certification Options:


Early Childhood Area Concentration

Generalist Renewal

Resources for Developing District PD for Paraeducators

Activities to use with the Guide to Effective Paraeducator Practices (Edition II) manual

Autism Internet Modules
A great PD resource for paras. The para creates a free account and may complete any module they want from a variety of topics.  The modules vary in length and have a quiz at the end with a certificate of completion.

PD Plan example
A format to aid in developing district para plans.

Professional Development Topics for Paraeducators:
The following items are found on this one document.

All Topics

Effective Paraeducators Overview (Roles and Responsibilities)


Building Independence


Data Collection

Equity / Poverty

Ethics, Relationships, Confidentiality

Fine Motor Strategies

Language Development

PBIS  / School Safety

Proctoring Tests


Seclusion/Restraint/Time Out

Resources for Paraeducators


CDA Information

Substitute Authorization (BoEE) 
The Iowa Substitute Authorization allows an individual to substitute in a PK-12 classroom.  The Iowa Administrative Code 282.22.2 states:

An individual who holds a paraeducator certificate without a bachelor’s degree and completes the substitute authorization program is authorized to substitute only in the special education classroom in which the individual paraeducator is employed. For these individuals, the authorization will appear on the paraeducator certificate and will not include separate renewal requirements.

Keystone AEA offers the Substitute Authorization Course.
National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals

Other program offerings from the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners
Qualifications for Preschool Teacher Assistants


Tools for IEP Teams

Below are resources to guide IEP teams in determining the role of a paraeducator in meeting student needs.


A short introduction video (4:28 minutes)

paraeducator continuum diagram

Background Information:

Paraeducator Research Summary

Appropriate Duties Matrix

What is Least Restrictive Environment?  (guidance from Sp Ed Procedures Manual)



Tool #1 - Intensive Needs Checklist

Tool #2 - Student Abilities Matrix

Be sure to consider the continuum of supports as you begin planning for your student.

Tool #3 - Plan for Para Assistance

IEP Guidance:

Iowa Accommodations Guidelines  (adapted from the CCSSO Accommodations Manual)

Accommodations and Modifications  (Keystone Constant Conversations)


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