Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the federal requirements?
All Title I paraprofessionals (parapros) hired after January 8, 2002 must have completed one of the following options as a condition of employment:
Option 1: Two years of study at an accredited college, defined as at least 60 semester credits.
Option 2: An associates degree (60-65 credits).
Option 3: An authorized state test. Michigan has established two test
a. Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC) - Professional Readiness Exam PRE
b. WorkKeys Assessments
2. Do all paraprofessionals need to meet these requirements?
For the time being, only those instructional assistants paid with Title I funds (for at-risk children) are affected. If you do not assist teachers with instruction, then this requirement probably doesn't apply to you. Title II (Special Education) assistants are expected to be held to the same standards at some time in the near future. If you are not sure whether this requirement applies to you, check with your building administrator or your union representative.
3. What are the tests like?
Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC) - PRE: This is the first part of the required test for all future teachers. Most students take the basic skills portion (reading writing, mathematics) in their second year of college. Questions correspond to college work.
WorkKeys Assessments: This is a national testing program that has been tailored to meet Michigan's standards for teacher paraprofessionals. The components are: Applied Mathematics, Writing, and Reading for information.
4. Where can I learn more about the tests?
MTTC: Look for the MTTC Registration Bulletin at Lansing Community College's (LCC). The site will tell you the test dates (four times per year) and give you sample questions for each part of the PRE test. A registration form is also included.
WorkKeys Assessments are administered by appointment at the LCC Assessment Center as well as at most Michigan Works offices around the state. For information about taking the tests at LCC, call 517-267-5500. To sample some of the questions, go to www.act.org/workkeys/assess/index.html.
5. What can I do to prepare for the tests?
There are no courses offered at LCC specifically designed to help you take the MTTC PRE or WorkKeys assessments; however, there are a number of ways you can check your skill levels or practice answering questions similar to those on the tests.
- Take the LCC basic skills placement tests in Reading, Writing and Math. There is no charge for these tests. Most students who score a Reading Level of 5, Writing and Math levels of 4, should be able to pass the test with very little preparation. If you do not achieve these levels, LCC has a wide range of courses to help you reach your goal.
- Check the MTTC Registration Bulletin for sample questions from the PRE Tests.
- Check the WorkKeys website at www.act.org for sample test items. These are the WorkKeys tests and levels that Michigan parapros must meet:
Reading for Information Level 4
Applied Mathematics Level 4
Writing Level 3
- Find online and workbook practice materials at www.act.org/workkeys/sktrain/index.html
6. Why do I have to take classes if I can just take a test?
Many parapros will only need to take the PRE or Work Keys test to fulfill federal requirements. However, some college work may be necessary in order to be successful on the test. In addition, taking a few key courses in Education will not only give you confidence for passing the test, but it will also make you more marketable and confident in the classroom.
7. I already have a degree. Do I need to earn the Teacher Paraprofessional Certificate anyway?
No. You have met the federal requirements as they are currently written. However, as more information becomes available, you might be asked by the State or your District to show credits or training in education. The LCC Certificate of Completion for Teacher Paraprofessionals (curriculum 0829) is not required, but it includes educational specialty courses which will give you the professional knowledge and skills that you need to demonstrate a high level of competence as an instructional assistant. The courses are also great transfer courses if you should decide to continue up the career ladder to becoming a certified teacher. See an LCC advisor to determine which classes will give you the most options.
8. If I earn the Certificate of Completion, have I met the Title I requirements?
No. This "certificate" is only 19 credits and can be earned in two semesters. (See Question 1, Option 1 above). It is a valuable experience for those who have met the requirements through study or testing, but have never had any courses in the field of Education. See an advisor if you are not sure which courses you should take.
9. I earned some credits at LCC a long time ago. How do I find out how many classes I need to take?
Take a copy of your transcripts to an LCC advisor in the StarZone or email Ann Selleck. If your credits were earned at LCC, the advisor can get a copy of the transcript for you. Be aware that credits you earned under the term system will not have the same value under the semester system. So unless you have earned a degree, you may have to take additional classes to achieve the minimum of 60 semester credits.
10. I haven't taken classes since high school and I'm not sure I can succeed at college. How can I keep my job?
It would be important to begin right now to develop strong academic skills in order to pass the state-approved test or enroll in one of LCC's teacher parapro programs. We offer a wide range of classes and services to help new and returning students build study skills and develop a foundation for success in math, writing and reading. In addition, first generation college students have many academic and cultural resources available to them through the TRIO program at LCC.
11. How can I take classes while I'm working full time?
Check out the LCC Schedule of Courses. We offer most teacher preparation classes in late afternoon or evening and many are now offered through the internet. Some summer classes have a special start date in order to accommodate students who work during the K-12 school year. Be sure to register early to get the classes you need at the time that suits you best.
12. What do I need to do to apply?
- First-time LCC Students must apply to LCC either on line or in person at the StarZone.
- Establish your skill levels in reading, writing and math by taking the LCC placement tests at the Assessment Center in the StarZone or by transferring courses from another college. (Most classes list a skill level prerequisite in the course description.)
- See an advisor if you are not sure which courses you should take.
- Register on-line or in person at the StarZone. Register early!
13. How can I afford it?
LCC can help you find a grant, a loan, or a scholarship to help you cover the cost of going back to school. Get started as soon as possible by completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). They are available at www.fafsa.ed.gov or from staff in the StarZone. There is also financial help for childcare, books and transportation through the LCC Women's Resource/Returning Adult Program and TRIO participants are eligible for parking and bus vouchers on a per semester basis.
14. What if I want to teach?
Great idea! There is a growing demand everywhere for teachers, especially in Special Education and Secondary Math, Science and Technical/Occupational Education. To become a certified teacher you must complete a Bachelor's Degree in teacher education from an accredited college or university and then pass the tests for Teacher Certification in Michigan. With careful planning you can take half of the requirements for teacher certification at LCC. Talk to an advisor about transferring your LCC coursework to a certification program at any four-year institution. Be sure to ask about LCC's special transfer agreements with Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Ferris State University, and Spring Arbor universities (for elementary and secondary education) and Western Michigan University (for secondary technical/occupational education).
Student Guide to Teacher Certification (pdf)
Teacher Prep Courses (pdf)
LCC Education Coordinating Committee
Job Market for Teachers
Teacher Prep Home