Project TOP-SET ALP – Transition of Paraprofessionals to Special Education Teachers through Alternative Licensure Program – is a project that was funded by the Transition to Teaching program of the Office of Innovation and Improvement of the U.S. Department of Education. On this project, The PAR²A Center partnered with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), several high-need LEAs, and state approved alternative licensure agencies. The overall goal of the project was to transition paraprofessionals from their current positions to hard to fill teaching positions in special education through an alternative route to teacher certification in special education. The project participants received a full array of support services including advising, tuition assistance, mentoring in school districts, and successful induction to the teaching profession. The project prepared almost 100 special education teachers over the five year project period.

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Project Outcomes – The project finished this year and resulted in increased capacity at several levels.

Internal Capacity of Districts has been increased by:

  • Providing “home grown” teachers who will stay in the profession as a result of their deep roots in the community. The project has transitioned a total of 93 talented candidates to teaching positions in special education across the state.
  • Identifying and training mentor teachers who support future generations of “home grown” teachers. Our mentor training is available as a one credit graduate course both in a face-to-face and an online format. Click here for information on Mentor Training.
  • Opening doors for continued professional development opportunities for the teachers and mentors.

Capacity of Partner Licensure Programs* by:

Providing resources and supports that contribute to the rigor of their programs. The project partnered with two special education alternative licensure programs in the state including Pikes Peak BOCES, the Metropolitan State University of Denver and UCD’s own alternative licensure program ASPIRE to Teach. Many of our other partner programs have utilized ASPIRE online modules as part of pedagogical instruction for the candidate in their alternative licensure program. Click here for information on ASPIRE modules.

Capacity in the State by:

  • Maintaining and enhancing existing partnerships and resources among districts, BOCES and alternative licensure programs.
  • Addressing problems of practice including:
    • The improvement of career development systems
    • The advancement of effective alternative licensure routes to teaching
    • Enhancing the on-line capabilities of the partner alternative licensure programs that allow the proposal to meet the personnel needs of the remote rural districts that are poorest in the state.

Capacity of the Field by:

  • Providing data to others who would build similar programs. Our rigorous evaluation results have confirmed the effectiveness of the project including:
    • Teaching Quality – 91% of grant participants rated the quality of instructors as good to excellent
    • Coursework – 89% of grant participants rated the coursework as good to excellent
    • Quality and Effectiveness of Support – 91% rated the PAR²A Center’s counseling and advising as good to excellent and 89% rated the ALP’s counseling as good to excellent
    • Financial Support – 97% of grant participants rated the financial support as good to excellent
    • Mentor Support – 94% of teaching candidates rated the effectiveness of having a mentor as good to excellent
    • Participants’ Professional Growth and Development – Statistically significant difference in development and improvement as a professional teacher over the course of the program as rated by their mentors

High need LEA is defined as a district that:

  1. serves not fewer than 10,000 children from families with incomes below the poverty line (as that term is defined in section 9101(33) of the ESEA), or for which not less than 20 percent of the children served by the LEA are from families with incomes below the poverty line; and
  2. has (1) a high percentage of teachers not teaching in the academic subjects or grade levels that the teachers were trained to teach, or (2) a high percentage of teachers with emergency, provisional, or temporary certification or licensing.

High-need charter school is defined as a school that:

  • has 40% or more students on free and reduced lunches OR is physically located in a high-need school district.
  • has shortage of highly qualified teacher as described above under (2).

For further information on the TOP SET ALP project, email Ritu Chopra or call 720-588-9681.

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