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PCC Program Reaps Large Grant For Paraprofessional Training
Photos and Story by James Hill
PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Community College earned a five-year, $1,435,600 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to fund the program Raising the Educational Achievement of Paraprofessionals (REAP). The program will help 120 instructional assistants in the Beaverton, Tigard-Tualatin, Hillsboro, and Forest Grove School districts complete their associate’s degrees. It will also give an additional 80 instructional assistants an avenue to make progress toward their bachelor’s or master’s degree. The project will run until September of 2007. REAP is a PCC degree-track and training program to fill shortages of qualified paraprofessionals to serve K-12 English-language learners in the Portland metro area."The education and training provided through this grant will improve the quality of education in the four school districts by enhancing the skills of instructional assistants who work with children,"said Kate Dins, dean of the college’s Business and Government division. "Without this grant, many instructional assistants would not have the resources to pursue an associate’s degree at PCC. We are hoping that some of the instructional assistants served through this grant will decide to continue their education at a four-year institution and become teachers in one of the four school districts."REAP addresses the districts’ needs to meet new education standards under the No Child Left Behind Act. It stipulates that current paraprofessionals must complete two years of college, earn an associate’s degree, or complete testing by 2006 to remain employed. Another focus is that REAP will aid bilingual assistants and help improve the PCC Education department’s ability to address issues related to bilingual and ESL students.REAP, based at the Cascade Campus (705 N. Killingsworth), is aligned with two teacher-licensure programs at Portland State University and Lewis and Clark College, which help the paraprofessionals to bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well as English as a second language certification. To facilitate student access, courses will be available at Washington County Workforce Training Center.PCC will serve approximately 100,000 part- and full-time students annually in a wide variety of programs this year. The college boasts three comprehensive campuses, four workforce training centers and approximately 200 community locations throughout its five-county district.For more information, contact Kate Dins at 503-978-5235.