Project P² ECE

Preparing Paraprofessionals for Early Childhood Education - Project P² ECE was a partnership of the Paraprofessional Resource and Research (PAR²A) Center at the University of Colorado Denver with the University of Northern Colorado and the Early Childhood Education State-wide Community College Faculty coalition. The project was funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), U. S. Department of Education. The project addressed the critical need for well prepared paraprofessionals and teaching assistants who are equipped with competencies and skills to provide instructional support to each and every child in a variety of preschool settings that include local school districts, Head Start and community based preschool (3-5 years) programs.

The project reviewed and redesigned courses of the existing Early Childhood Education certificates as well as Associates of Arts degree program at Colorado community colleges by incorporating standard-based and evidenced-based special education content and practices. The project also put systems in place for the delivery of the redesigned coursework as well as its articulation agreements for the transfer of enhanced curriculum into four-year special education degree programs.

The objectives that accomplished the overall project goals:

  1. Expand the existing course competencies in the Early Childhood Education certificate as well as Associates of Arts degree program at the Colorado Community College System to include the state and national personnel preparation standards established by the Colorado Department of Education, Council for Exceptional Children, Division of Early Childhood, and National Association for Education of Young Children
  2. Review and redesign the existing ECE certificate and Associates of Arts degree in the Colorado Community College System by incorporating early childhood special education knowledge and skills competencies created under Objective 1.
  3. Train community college faculty and practicum supervisors to implement the redesigned coursework.
  4. Train and provide support to project coaches who supervise practicum in the field.
  5. Deliver the redesigned curriculum as a pilot at two community colleges.
  6. Collaborate with the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Statewide Community College Faculty coalition to implement and sustain the redesigned program and articulate it with the existing Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) programs in four year colleges and universities.

All of the proposed goals and outcomes were accomplished in this project that benefit different stakeholders. The ECE workforce benefited with increased knowledge and skills to provide instructional support. ECE instructors at the community colleges benefited from the knowledge gained in the enhanced content of the curriculum and from coaching as well as the 60:60 agreement with 4-year colleges. The Colorado Community College system benefitted and will continue to benefit by having enhanced courses and the Bank of Resources that include content for standardized critical competencies and skills for the early childhood education workforce which will ultimately benefit the young children in ECE programs across Colorado.

The project staff have disseminated findings from this project at the following major national ECE conferences listed below and will continue to fulfill the tenets of this grant far into the future.

Incorporating Standards-based and Evidence-based Content and Practices in EC Associate Degree Programs, Annual conference of the Division of Early Childhood Education – Council for Exceptional Children, Minneapolis October 29th 2012.

Partnership for Quality Preparation of Special Education Paraprofessionals in Community Colleges, Annual conference of the Division of Early Childhood Education – Council for Exceptional Children, San Francisco October 15, 2013.

Supporting Instructors to Include Inclusive Evidence-Based Practices in EC Preservice Program at the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) of the Council for Exceptional Children conference in October 2014 in St. Louis.

Making Inclusion a Reality: Enhancing Preservice ECE Professional Preparation Programs in Community Colleges, National Association for Education of Young Children, Annual Conference, October 19, 2015.

Programs in Community Colleges, Conference on Research Innovations in Early Intervention (CRIEI) in San Diego, CA on February 12th, 2016.

Supporting ALL Children: Embedding Inclusive Practices in ECE Personnel Preparation Programs, Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Conference, February 21, 2016.

Creating a Path to Prepare EC Educators for Inclusion, OSEP Project Director’s Meeting, August 3, 2016.

Promoting Inclusion: Enhancing Community College Preservice ECE Professional Preparation Programs, Division of Early Childhood Education – Council for Exceptional Children Annual Convention, Louisville, KY, October 20, 2016

For more information on this project please contact Ritu Chopra.