TOPSET Overview – Transition of Paraeducators to Special Education Teachers

The TOPSET project was a collaboration between the PAR²A Center and the Colorado Department of Education. The goal of the project was to transition paraeducators from their current positions to special education teachers serving students in high need rural school districts. A full range of support was offered to participants to assure their ability to reach the goal. By the end of the project, participants earned a baccalaureate degree and a Special Education Generalist license. A mentor teacher program helped build the capacity of districts to induct new teachers. Project staff recruited, trained and coached experienced teachers to become mentors for the project participants.

The project transitioned 22 paraeducators to special education teachers who have remained employed in their high need rural school districts after the completion of their program. This high retention rate is attributed to the effective recruitment, preparation and creation of support structures within the school districts through the TOP-SET project.