Training Projects and Services

Past Funded Projects

The word CO-TOP is an acronym that stands for Comprehensive Training The PAR²A Center‘s training projects and services that enhance the skills of paraprofessionals for their current roles are established on the research based and field tested CO-TOP model which is described below.

What does CO-TOP mean?

Opportunities for Paraprofessionals – a mouthful! However, it is a comprehensive, systematic model of creating a training and supervision system for paraprofessionals which can be adapted to various settings. The CO-TOP Manual provides a detailed description of CO-TOP, the curriculum and the model.

What are the goals of CO-TOP?

Initial preparation for paraprofessionals who work in schools and early intervention services

  • Collaborate with districts, Community Centered Boards, higher education, and state agencies to seek solutions for paraprofessional employment, career development, and training issues
  • Build local capacity to supervise and train in-service paraprofessionals
  • Facilitate paraprofessional career pathways into professions in education and early intervention services

How does the CO-TOP model work in K-12 schools?

K-12 CO-TOP is a Training of Trainers Model whereby:

  • Districts nominate who they want as trainers
  • Trainers are prepared to deliver training through two courses:
  • Paraeducator Supervision Academy (PSA)
  • Trainers of Paraeducator Academy (TOPA)
  • The trainers use the K-12 CO-TOP Curriculum – that consists of 22 Academies
  • The K-12 CO-TOP Curriculum is based on relevance to paraeducator posi
    • Considerate of legitimate roles of paraeducators – teacher
    • Comprehensive – appropriate depth of content
    • Core content – consistent with various approaches
    • High quality
    • Accountability – it does what it says it will do!

How does the CO-TOP model work in early intervention services?

  • CCB’s (Community Centered Boards) nominate who they want as trainers
  • Trainers are prepared to deliver training through two courses:
  • The trainers use the CO-TOP*EIS DI Assistant Curriculum – that consists of 15 academies
  • The CO-TOP*EIS Curriculum is based on relevance to Developmental Intervention (DI) Assistant positions
    • Considerate of legitimate roles of DI Assistant - licensed early intervention providers
    • Comprehensive – appropriate depth of content
    • Core content – consistent with various approaches
    • High quality
    • Accountability – it does what it says it will do!

How was CO-TOP developed?

The CO-TOP Model originally grew out of a research project that was published in 1991 by French & Cabell. That study indicated that districts wanted training for paraeducators but only under certain conditions. They wanted paraeducator training only if it was:

  • delivered in-district
  • delivered by district staff
  • practical, relevant, timely
  • at low cost
  • under full control of the district

CO-TOP was developed to address all these wishes. It is a training of trainers model because districts wanted in-house trainers, and they wanted to deliver training in-district because they had little confidence that paraeducators would travel to colleges at some distance from home. They were worried that training developed in colleges would reflect too much theory and history of the field instead of practical how-to topics more relevant to the jobs of paraeducators. They wanted to minimize the cost and have full control of what training was delivered, how often and how much training was delivered, and who took the training. CO-TOP fills the bill.

In 2008, the PAR²A Center adapted the CO-TOP K-12 Model to train DI Assistants, who are paraprofessionals who work with families of infants and toddlers (birth through two years) with disabilities and developmental delays.

History of CO-TOP Curriculum Development

  • 1994-2005 - developed, pilot-tested 22 academies for K-12 paraprofessionals
  • 2008-2010 - developed 15 academies for DI Assistants. Field testing for these academies is in progress.

CO-TOP classes for paraeducators and DI Assistants as well as training of their supervisors and new trainers are offered in Colorado as needed to fulfill certain funded project requirements. The PARA Center also offers these classes as a fee for service activity upon specific request by school districts and Community Centered Boards.

For information on K-12 paraeducator training including supervisor and trainer training, as well as information on Developmental Intervention Assistant training please contact Ritu Chopra, Executive Director.

We also offer the Paraeducator Supervision Academy for professionals in preschool settings (Head Start, private and public preschool programs, child care centers, etc.) as a fee for service activity. For more information on this, please contact Ritu Chopra.

Outside Colorado, districts who are interested in adopting the CO-TOP Model may contact Ritu Chopra.