Response from Principal Jared Moretti: It is important to clarify who we consider non-certified staff and the conditions under which they work with children. Non-certified staff are district employees who do not hold a teaching certificate. They do not make educational decisions because they do not have a teaching certificate nor do they have the background to make such decisions. They do receive professional development (e.g., we have brought people in for them to work with, sent them to conferences and seminars, etc.) They may offer insight and suggestions to the special education or classroom teacher but academic decisions are the responsibility of certified personnel. Non-certified staff carry out the curriculum and academic plans that have been determined by the special education teacher or classroom teacher and they report directly to these individuals.


One way of using non-certified support staff or paraprofessionals in RTI is to have them provide some of the interventions. We do some of this at our school by having a paraprofessional work with a child one-on-one or with two students. We try not to give a paraprofessional more than 2 students because usually these students are working on some very specific skills and require a great deal of attention.


Another way that we have found to use paraprofessionals is to provide extra support in the classroom. We use paraprofessionals to free up our "experts" to work with children who need the most help. We use a "flooding" or "pushing in" model in which our special education teacher, Title 1 and reading specialist are working with a small group of students during our literacy block time. During different times of the day, we flood different grade levels with these three professionals. They work with students that are not reading at grade level and who are grouped together based on their skills to receive intense interventions. The students that are reading at grade level or above are grouped with the classroom teachers for enrichment or extension. These groups are very small, usually no more than 5. If they are bigger, then we might bring in a paraprofessional to help. We ensure that the special education teacher and the Title 1 teacher have some identified students in their groups so that we are meeting funding requirements, but these groups may also contain students who are not identified but still need help in that specific area. We are able to do this because during this time our paraprofessionals are providing support in the classroom for other students.


The short answer is that we use paraprofessional to provide support in the classroom so that we can free up our experts to help the kids who need the most help.

Response from Principal Bob Heimbaugh: Non-certified staff in our school includes paraprofessionals that our district hired to assist with instruction, supervision and support for students in a building. These individuals can be very beneficial in the process of providing instruction to children in the RTI process.


As a principal, I reinforce with staff that in order to maintain the fidelity of instruction, all non-certified staff involved in the instructional process need to be involved in the same professional development as certified staff. During professional development training in our schools and district concerning RTI implementation, paraprofessionals are asked to be trained right beside the teachers. It is important to note that all instruction provided by non-certified staff is under the direct supervision of a certified teacher.


Each week, teacher grade level literacy teams meet to review data and evaluate student growth. From these meetings, lesson plans are created and paraprofessionals are provided lessons from the teacher for small group instruction. The paraprofessional is in the classroom teaching her small group with the teacher, who is also involved in small group instruction. At the end of each day the paraprofessional and teacher review the lesson and make adjustments for the next day.


We found that when non-certified staff were involved in the professional development a common language around instruction emerged. Having non-certified staff in the classrooms during core instruction helped to reinforce what they were doing when they worked with their small groups. By involving paraprofessionals in team meetings, everyone was able to maintain systematic and explicit instruction together.