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A paraeducator is an individual who provides instructional or related support to students under the direction and supervision of a certified teacher. In the last two decades, the roles and responsibilities of paraeducators in inclusive schools have reached new levels of importance. The role of paraeducators has evolved from clerical support to personal support, such as feeding and toileting, to responsibilities for providing instructional and behavioral supports that are integral to the effective provision of services to students with disabilities. This evolution of roles is, in part, due to:

  • Higher expectations for all students,
  • An increased focus on inclusive education practices, and
  • Attention to closing the achievement gap.

Paraeducators: Fact or Fiction?

As policy and procedures have evolved over the years within education, the role of teachers and paraprofessionals has also changed.  Managing the work of paraprofessionals has become a more common component of effectively run classrooms.  Paraeducators who were once responsible for clerical duties to support teachers and administrators by preparing materials, taking attendance, and monitoring… Read more

Documenting Paraeducator Support

Special Education Paraeducators: How Do You Document Support You Provide Students? How do we know students who are expected to receive curricular and personal supports recommended in Individual Education Programs (IEP’s) are not only receiving them—but that these supports are actually working to improve student learning. What We Collaboratively Designed In recent work with a… Read more

Frequently Asked Questions for Paraprofessionals

What are the roles and responsibilities of the paraprofessional in the classroom? The role of a paraprofessional will vary depending upon the student needs within the classroom. Some common roles are as follows: planning with teachers; monitoring student progress and checking for understanding during initial teacher instruction; assisting students with guided practice and independent practice… Read more

Avoiding Over-Use of Paraeducator Support for Individual Students

Author: Frances Stetson, Ph.D. The benefits of paraeducators in the school setting are many including flexible support for students in a variety of instructional settings, increased opportunities for close observation of students, increased flexibility in responding to personal needs such as toileting and feeding, and the addition of a valuable team member in problem solving… Read more

Strengthening the Role of Certified Teachers Supervising Paraeducators

Paraeducator: A paraeducator is an individual who provides instructional or related support to students under the direction and supervision of a certified teacher. This is the definition of a paraeducator presented in Part 1 of this series. In Part 1, we focused on the roles and responsibilities of paraeducators in inclusive schools: how these roles have… Read more

Clarifying the Roles and Responsibilities of Paraeducators

Author: Frances Stetson, Ph.D. Two pieces of federal legislation have the greatest impact on the role of the paraeducator and the supervising teacher. They are: The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), renamed the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. The largest and best known of the programs supported by ESEA is the… Read more

Online Resources for Paraeducators

This list of websites and organizations offers paraeducators and their supervising teachers a wealth of information and resources to establish and improve effective teacher-para partnerships! Council for Exceptional Children (CEC): Paraeducator Preparation Guidelines National Resource Center for Paraeducators Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education  Paraeducator Resource and Learning Center (PRLC)  Guide to Schoolwide Planning… Read more