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Paraprofessionals Roles, Preparation, and Supervision


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Title: Paraprofessionals Roles, Preparation, and Supervision

Paraprofessionals Roles, Preparation, and
  • Teri Wallace, National Resource Center for
    Paraprofessionals (NRCP) and University of MN
  • Barbara Jo Stahl, Minnesota Department of
    Education, Division of Special Education

Paraprofessional Requirements under NCLB and
IDEA Highlights from 1 State Roles of
Teachers and Administrators Questions and
A little bit about NRCP -
  • The purpose of the NRCP is to build partnerships
    that address the preparation, management,
    supervision, deployment, and career development
    of paraprofessionals.
  • Co-Directors Marilyn Likins (Utah State
    University) and Teri Wallace (University of
  • Founder Anna Lou Pickett
  • National Conference May 1-3, 2003 in San Diego
  • Web site

Legislation -
  • Special Education -
  • Federal - 1997 Amendments to IDEA -
  • Title I -
  • Federal - No Child Left Behind Act -

Legislation -
1997 Amendments to IDEA - A State may allow
paraprofessionals and assistants who are
appropriately trained and supervised, in
accordance with State law, regulations, or
written policy, in meeting the requirements of
this part to be used to assist in the provision
of special education and related services to
children with disabilities under Part B of the
Act. 34 CFR 300.136(f)
Legislation -
NCLB, 2002 - New Paraprofessionals Each local
education agency receiving assistance under this
part shall ensure that all paraprofessionals
hired after the date of enactment of the No Child
Left Behind Act of 2001 and working in a program
supported with funds under this part shall have
-- Title I, Section 1119/b
Legislation -
  • NCLB, 2002 -
  • New Paraprofessionals, continued
  • Completed at least 2 years of study at an
    institution of higher education
  • Obtained an associates (or higher) degree or
  • Met a rigorous standard of quality and can
    demonstrate, through a formal State or local
    academic assessment -
  • Knowledge of, and the ability to assist in
    instructing reading, writing, and mathematics or
  • Knowledge of, and the ability to assist in
    instructing reading readiness, writing readiness,
    and mathematics readiness, as appropriate.
    Title I, Section 1119/b
  • Existing paraprofessionals must meet requirements
    within 4 years after enactment (by January 8,

Legislation -
  • NCLB, 2002 -
  • A little more..
  • Paraprofessionals - an individual who performs
    instructional support duties and not to an
    individual performing only non-instructional
  • All paraprofessionals must have High School
    diploma or equivalent.
  • Requirements do not apply to those working as
    translators (if paraprofessional is proficient in
    English and a language other than English) or
    paraprofessionals working solely on parental
    involvement activities

Legislation -
  • NCLB, 2002 -
  • A little more..
  • A paraprofessional works under the direct
    supervision of a teacher if the teacher plans the
    paraprofessionals instructional activities and
    evaluates the achievement of the students with
    whom the paraprofessional works
  • The paraprofessional also would be required to
    work in close proximity of the teacher

Legislation -
  • NCLB, 2002 -
  • A little more..
  • When Hired?
  • Must be newly hired by district
  • If in another school in district, not new
  • If laid off and recalled every year?
  • Not new, if continuous year of employment
  • Does it Apply to Preschool Paraprofessionals?
  • Yes, if working in program supported with Title I
  • Not Head Start

  • What About Special Education?
  • If a person working with special education
    students does NOT provide any instructional
    support (only personal care services), the person
    is not considered a paraprofessional and the
    requirements to not apply.
  • If a person works in a Title I targeted
    assistance program and has instructional support
    duties and is paid with Title I funds, the
    requirements apply.
  • If a person works in a Title I school-wide
    program (school) and has instructional support
    duties, the requirements apply without regard to
    the source of funding that supports the position.

  • What is included in Courses of Study?
  • Paraprofessionals should be able to demonstrate
    knowledge and the ability to assist in
    instructing in the areas of reading, writing, and
    mathParaprofessionals are expected to have a
    working knowledge of these academic areas.
  • Each State may determine what requirements, if
    any, it may choose to place on the coursework
    taken during the two years of study.

More about Two Years of Study
  • State definition on full time study
  • HEA (Higher Education Act) definition of
    institution of higher education
  • Admits only HS graduates, or equivalent
  • Legally authorized by state
  • Bachelors or 2 year credit toward
  • Public or other non-profit institution
  • Accredited
  • Course of study?
  • Working knowledge of reading, writing, math
  • State determines any additional requirements

  • What is the purpose of the ASSESSMENT?
  • The purpose of the academic assessment is to
    demonstrate that Title I paraprofessionals have
    the appropriate knowledge and ability to assist
    in instructing students and are competent in
    required instructional techniques and academic
    content areas.
  • The paraprofessional assessment is expected to
    evaluate paraprofessional candidates at a level
    to the second year of college. Having skills at
    this level is the intent of the law.

More about Assessment
  • State or local assessment
  • Knowledge of and ability to assist in instructing
  • Reading, writing, math, or readiness
  • Need not be paper pencil test
  • Must be valid, reliable, documented
  • No USDE approval, but SEA approved
  • Not just basic competencies
  • Rigor second year of college

New Professional
Development Set Aside
  • LEAs must spend at least 5 of Title I, Part A to
    help teachers AND paraprofessionals meet the
  • Capped at 10 for 2002 and 2003
  • Unless a lesser amount is sufficient to ensure
    that the LEAs teachers and paraprofessionals
    meet the requirements

A little background National Report
In a report to the Office of Special Education
Programs (OSEP), six overarching themes were
identified by a cross-partnership (IDEA
Partnerships, including ASPIIRE, FAPE, ILIAD and
PMP) sponsored forum of thirty-five
representatives of professional associations,
high education, federal, state and local agencies
and special projects, and individual professional
practitioners, paraeducators/assistants, and
A little background National
Report to OSEP
  • Confusion and misunderstanding about roles,
    responsibilities and supervision of
    paraprofessionals and assistants by professional
    practitioners, administrators, families
  • Lack of clear federal, state and local policies
    and standards
  • Need for consensus about who/what is a
  • Inadequate training for administrators,
    professional practitioners, and
    paraprofessionals/assistants regarding
    appropriate roles, responsibilities, and
  • Inadequate opportunities for instructional/related
    services teams to plan, collaborate, and support
    one another's efforts
  • Need for systematic infrastructures and
    administrative support for training, team
    collaboration/planning, and utilizations of
    appropriate practice.

Paraprofessional Roles -
  • The following is cited in NCLB as appropriate
    roles for paraprofessionals -
  • Providing one-on-one tutoring for eligible
  • Assisting with classroom management (such as
  • organizing instructional and other
  • Providing assistance in a computer laboratory
  • Conducting parental involvement activities
  • Providing support in a library or media center
  • Acting as a translator
  • Providing, under the direct supervision of a
  • instructional services

Paraprofessional Roles -
  • The Study of Personnel Needs in Special Education
    (SPeNSE, 2001) found that while there were
    differences by region and district regarding the
    types of services paraeducators provided, the
    majority of special education paraeducators,
    nationwide, spend at least 10 of their time on
    each of the following activities
  • Providing one-on-one instruction
  • Providing instructional support in small
  • Modifying materials
  • Implementing behavior management plans
  • Monitoring hallways, study hall, other
  • Meeting with teachers
  • Collecting data on students and
  • Providing personal care assistance.

Paraprofessional Roles -
  • Some studies have found that paraeducators
    report being
  • responsible for the instructional program
    of a student
  • when that is the responsibility of the
    teacher (Giangreco,
  • Edelman, Luiselli, MacFarland, 1997
    Marks, Schrader, Leving, 1999
  • Wallace, Stahl, MacMillan, 2000).
  • Paraeducators reported a high level of
    responsibility in
  • their jobs, such as decisions regarding
  • behavioral support, and interacting with team
  • including parents (Downing, Ryndak, Clark

Supply and Demand -
The National Center on Educational Statistics
reported a 48 increase in instructional
paraeducator employment compared to a 13
increase in student enrollment and an 18
increase in teacher employment between the years
1990 and 1998 (NCES, 2000).
Training Preparation -
  • Studies have found that paraeducators who report
    receiving more inservice training or preservice
    preparation report feeling better prepared to
    fulfill their job responsibilities
  • Numerous recent studies and opinion pieces
    indicate that there is a scarcity of relevant
    training available to paraeducators.
  • Perceptions regarding need for training differ
    among administrators, teachers, and

Training Preparation -
  • Topic listed in the literature for Paraeducator
    Training -
  • Positive behavioral supports
  • Specifics about disabilities
  • Teaching strategies
  • Communication and problem solving strategies
  • Transition related information and job coaching
  • Early childhood special education and child
  • Special Education Law, confidentiality
  • Use of computers and accommodations
  • Inclusion
  • Health and safety
  • Development of independence and mobility
  • Observation and data collection strategies

Training Preparation -
With rare exceptions, policies, standards, and
systems for improving the performance and
productivity of teacher and paraeducator teams
are almost non-existent. Paraeducator training,
when it is available is usually highly parochial
and sporadic, does not recognize the similarities
in the core skills required by the vast majority
of paraeducators, nor is it competency based, or
linked to systematic opportunities for their
career development. State education agencies
and/or other state agencies responsible for
developing and administering teacher
credentialing systems have not joined forces with
institutions of high education to establish
standards for licensure to ensure that teacher
have the knowledge and skills they require to
supervise paraeducators. Moreover paraeducator
issues have yet to be addressed by various reform
initiatives concerned with empowering teachers
and increasing the accountability and
effectiveness of education systems and
practices. (Pickett, Likins, Wallace, 2002).
Standards Infrastructure
  • Since the 1997 Amendments to IDEA, a renewed
    interest, and requirements for developing
    standards and certification, has re-emerged.
  • Some associations Council for Exceptional
    Children (CEC), the American Speech, Language and
    Hearing Association (ASHA), American Physical
    Therapy Association (APTA), American Occupational
    Therapy Association (AOTA) have established
    knowledge and skill competencies for
    paraprofessionals. CEC has a set for
  • ASHA, APTA and AOTA require community college AA
    Degrees for certified therapy assistants.
  • 249 community colleges offer AA degrees to OT
    and PT assistants.
  • In 1997, ASHA recognized an AA degree for SLP
    assistants. In response, there are already 10
    accredited programs and another 50 in

Standards Infrastructure
  • Continued -
  • Eleven states have identified competencies or
    standards for paraeducators.
  • Thirteen states have credentialing systems,
    ranging from multi-level licensure/certification
    credentials that define roles, training and
    career advancement criteria to one-dimensional
    systems that do not specify role or training
  • Approximately, 198 community colleges offer
    either two-year AA degrees or one-year
    certificate programs to paraeducators working in
    inclusive special and general education,
    bilingual/ESL, Title I, and early childhood
    programs. (NRCP)
  • Paraeducator-to-Teacher programs - Career
    ladders - Ongoing training opportunities.

Standards Infrastructure
  • Career Ladder -
  • Some states have established a career ladder
    approach to the recruitment, preparation and
    ongoing development of paraeducators.
  • The idea is to recruit high school students into
    2-year programs leading to paraeducator
    preparation and/or continued development
    ultimately leading to a teaching certificate.
  • A person might work on a certificate of
    competence, a specified diploma, a two-degree,
    articulate to a 4-year program and pursue a
    teaching certificate.
  • This approach has been promoted by LeTendre
    (1998) as a way to encourage Title I
    paraeducators to become teachers.

Supervision -
  • There is a difference between the person
    responsible for hiring and evaluating
    performance (an administrator), and the person
    directing day-to-day work with students (an
    educator or other licensed person).
  • As early as the 1960s, there was evidence that
    supervision was needed for paraprofessionals to
    provide instructional services (Esbenson, 1966,
    Blessing, 1967).
  • Teachers must learn strategies for supervising
    paraeducators -- beginning in their teacher
    preparation programs. And, administrators must
    promote effective instructional supervisory
    relationships and create infrastructures that
    reward teams.

Supervision -
  • There is a need for administrators and teachers
    to find opportunities for licensed staff and
    paraprofessionals to be able plan together.
  • Often reported as reasons why paraeducators leave
    their positions
  • Lack of advancement opportunity
  • Poor salary
  • Lack of administrative support
  • Lack of respect
  • Factors affecting self-esteem (Riggs Mueller,
  • being involved in team meetings for students
    with whom they work
  • being provided with adequate break time
  • having adequate substitute coverage
  • being perceived as a team member working
    along side of the teacher

Supervision -
  • Six major themes associated with respect,
    appreciation, and acknowledgement of
    paraeducators (Giangreco, Edelman, Broer, 2001)
  • Nonmonetary signs and symbols of appreciation
  • Compensation
  • Being entrusted with important responsibilities
  • Noninstructional responsibilities
  • Being listened to
  • Orientation and support
  • Competencies for Teachers (Wallace, Shin,
    Bartholomay, Stahl, 2001)
  • Communication with Paraprofessionals
  • Planning and Scheduling
  • Instructional Support
  • Modeling for Paraprofessionals
  • Public Relations
  • Training
  • Management of Paraprofessionals

In the final analysis, schools cannot adequately
function without paraeducators, and paraeducators
cannot adequately function in schools that lack
an infrastructure that supports and respects them
as viable and contributing members of
instructional teams (Daniels McBride, 2001).
Resources - 1
  • National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals
  • No Child Left Behind
  • Study of Personnel Needs in Special Education
    (SPeNSE) Fact Sheets
  • Minnesota Paraprofessional Consortium
  • Paraprofessionals In the Education Workforce,
    National Education Association (NEA)
  • Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education

Resources - 2
  • Paraeducator Support of Students with
    Disabilities in General Education Classrooms,
    University of Vermont
  • Roles of Educational Paraprofessionals in
    Effective Schools, U.S. Department of Education
  • National Clearinghouse for Careers in Special
    Education, CEC
  • Standards for a Profession, American Federation
    of Teachers (AFT)
  • Schools and Staffing Survey, National Center for
    Educational Statistics (NCES)

Resources - 3
  • Paraeducator-to-Teacher Programs, National
    Teacher Recruitment Clearinghouse
  • IDEA Practices Home Page -
  • National Clearinghouse for Paraeducators
    Resources, Center for Multilingual, Multicultural
  • National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities
  • Paraeducator Resources Northwest Regional
    Educational Laboratory /

Resources - 4
  • State Level Initiatives Related to Training and
    Supervision of Paraeducators, Project FORUM
    National Association of State Directors of
    Special Education 1800 Diagonal Road, Suite 320
    Alexandria, VA 22314 Tel 703.519.3800, ext.
    333 FAX 703.519.3808 Please contact Joy
    Markowitz at or by calling
    703-519-3800 (ext. 335).
  • Additional copies of the IDEA Partnerships
    Department of Education, Office of Special
    Education Programs (OSEP) may be obtained from
  • Council for Exceptional Children, 1110 North
    Glebe Road, Suite 300
  • Arlington, VA 22201-5704,Voice 1-877-232-4332
    (toll free),TTY 866-915-5000
  • FAX 703-264-1637, E-mail ideapractices_at_ideapract
  • IMPACT Feature Issue on Paraeducators
    Supporting Students with Disabilities and At
    Risk. Published by the Institute on Community
    Integration (UCEDD) and the Research and Training
    Center on Community Living, College of Education
    and Human Development, University of Minnesota
    Volume 15 Number 2 Fall 2002 -