The Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) has received a grant to coordinate the development of a test preparation series for teacher assistants. The project will focus on creating test preparation modules that serve to help individuals be successful on either of the state-endorsed education paraprofessional (teacher assistant) exams, ACT Work Keys or ETS Parapro.
Since learning of the $500,000 Federal grant, Rend Lake College has responded in timely fashion to assist those who would like to take advantage of offerings available by scheduling Work Keys assessments on-campus and in Mt. Vernon, McLeansboro and Pinckneyville during the month of August.
Each of the morning sessions will be from 8:30-noon. Sessions are scheduled at the RLC MarketPlace in Mt. Vernon on Monday, August 4, and again Thursday, August 14; on the Rend Lake College Ina campus Thursday, August 7; at Hamilton County High School in McLeansboro on Monday, August 11, and at the RLC Murphy-Wall Pinckneyville Campus on Tuesday, August 12.
The quick response should come as no surprise. Rend Lake College representatives have been working with area industry in recent years regarding hiring and training practices
through the Work Keys program.
Those wishing to register for any of these assessments are asked to contact Coordinator Laura Kern or Administrative Assistant Lee Ann Bayless in the Rend Lake College Center for Business Services at (618) 437-5321, Ext. 1353 or Ext. 1714. Summer hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) made the grant award from its Federal Title II professional development funds.
"We are proud to be part of the solution in supplying qualified personnel to the teaching workforce in Illinois," commented Joseph J. Cipfl, ICCB President and Chief Executive Officer.
The latest partnership between the ICCB and the ISBE, announced in late May, began with the reauthorization of the Federal Elementary-Secondary Education act, titled No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
Under this ruling, teacher assistants who were hired after January 8, 2002, and assist in instructional programs that receive Title I funds must have completed two years of study at an institution of higher education, obtained an Associate Degree or higher or have met a rigorous standard of quality through a formal state or local assessment.
"This is a solid step toward making sure every Illinois student receives the highest quality classroom instruction and a great example of two public agencies working together for a common goal," according to Robert E. Schiller, State Superintendent of Education.
Preparation modules are being made available to any interested education entity in Illinois. Financial support will be awarded through the grant for delivery of test preparation instruction.
Teacher assistants will be able to attend for free.
A Paraprofessional Task Force was created in mid-2002 by ICCB and ISBE to address the postsecondary education options within the new law and to determine how to provide support and assistance for teacher assistants in Illinois. The work of the Task Force resulted last month in recommendations for statewide models for a Paraprofessional Certificate and an Associate in Applied Science Degree. This effort served to provide an opportunity for NCLB qualification through college coursework.
(Rend Lake College will have these options available as well beginning Fall Semester 2003, which starts the week of August 18-23. Registration is in progress for all credit classes.)
However, the need to provide support for the assessment option remained. This latest collaborative effort satisfies that need.
The collaboration includes community colleges, elementary and secondary education, Regional Offices of Education (ROEs), education unions and staff from both state agencies involved. Both on-site and online instruction eventually will be created. Additional academic support, such as tutoring, access to college help centers and developmental coursework, will be included.
The project was launched May 5. On-site modules are not expected to be completed until late July, with online modules anticipated by the end of the calendar year.
Title I teacher assistants employed prior to January 2002 have until January 2006 to meet these requirements.