A bill making its way through the Minnesota legislature would require setting exam scores to ensure that 95 percent of education paraprofessionals working on their statewide credential pass the assessments the first time they take them.

Paraprofessionals (also called education support professionals) are non-licensed support staff who assist teachers in providing student instruction. They do not have to, but can, obtain a Voluntary Paraprofessional Credential, which requires them to complete 60 hours of training in nine core competencies, have two or more years of experience as a paraprofessional in the same district, and pass a state-approved examination administered by the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB).

Current statute requires local assessments to evaluate “a paraprofessional’s knowledge of reading, writing, and math and the paraprofessional’s ability to assist in the instruction of reading, writing, and math.”

The bill’s proposed changes would require the commissioner of education to “establish qualifying scores for each of the assessments…that result in first-time passage rates for individuals in all racial and ethnic groups of at least 95 percent.”

Minnesota teacher licensure exams also include a 95 percent first-time pass rate, but during the 2023 legislative session, the legislature removed these content/pedagogy exam requirements altogether for individuals seeking a Tier 3 or Tier 4 license (which is what the majority of Minnesota teachers hold) if they completed a teacher preparation program. Additionally, the requirement to demonstrate passing scores on a basic skills exam in reading, writing, and math was removed for Tier 4 licensure.

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