Systems Development & Improvement (SDI) Center at the University of Cincinnati
The Systems Development & Improvement (SDI) Center at the University of Cincinnati College of Education, Criminal Justice, Human Services, and Information Technology fosters the development, implementation, and evaluation of PK20 education research and demonstration efforts that improve opportunities to learn for children and youth, their families, and the professionals who support them. At the core of many SDI Center activities is a commitment to advocacy on behalf of all children, as well as partnerships – with school districts, with professional associations, with institutions of higher education, with regional providers, with the state – to assist in improvement efforts for all students. One such initiative is the Ohio Partnership for Excellence in Paraprofessional Preparation (OPEPP).
The OPEPP work involves continuous learning to share current and effective knowledge, skills, and practices that help educators meet a wide range of educational needs. It also focuses on systemic improvement grounded in evidence-based practices that optimize benefits for all learners.
Systems Development & Improvement Center Staff and Partners
Deborah Telfer, Ph.D., Deborah Telfer, Ph.D., Director, SDI Center
Jennifer Ottley, Ph.D., Research Director, SDI Center
Aimee Howley, Ed.D., President, WordFarmers Associates, LLC
The OPEPP Mission
The Ohio Partnership for Excellence in Paraprofessional Preparation (OPEPP) helps districts build the capacity to include and leverage paraprofessional educator expertise effectively.
- Effective education for all students is possible only in systems that take action to ensure equity and inclusiveness.
- Instruction works best when it is a team effort that includes general educators, special educators, paraprofessional educators, and related service personnel.
- Paraprofessional educators add to the overall instructional capacity of districts.
- Intentional planning is necessary to ensure that districts make wise use of the instructional capacity of all educators, including paraprofessional educators.
- Improve district, school, and teacher use of paraprofessional educator services to advance learning for all students;
- Improve the capacity of instructional teams by mobilizing and coordinating all personnel, including paraprofessional educators;
- Provide guidance and supports to districts in helping build the professional knowledge and skills of paraprofessional educators;
- Provide guidance and supports to districts in helping build the professional knowledge and skills of teachers for their work with paraprofessional educators;
- Help districts and schools deploy staffing arrangements that fit with best practice while also addressing local needs; and
- Inform state-level policies and actions to promote the use of inclusive service delivery models that support the learning of all students.
The OPEPP model is built upon the Council for Exceptional Children’s Standards for Paraprofessional Preparation. These standards recognize the significance of paraprofessional educators in the improvement of teaching and learning for all students.
OPEPP offers online learning modules and workshops, technical assistance and professional development packages, and online resources and support. These resources were built to help teachers and paraprofessional educators respond to the complex demands of their work, and to work together to overcome challenges and help students attain mastery in academics and other areas of life.
Paraprofessional educators serve an essential function as part of instructional teams positioned to support the delivery of high-quality instruction to all students and thereby improve their learning opportunities and outcomes. With these goals in view, OPEPP focuses on three priority areas:
Our Partner Districts
The OPEPP project has supported the work of districts across the state. Below is a map representing past and current OPEPP partner districts.