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ESP Professional Growth Continuum

Empowering ESP through a Professional Growth Continuum

Education Support Professionals (ESP) play a key role in ensuring student success, and their positive impact can be enhanced when there are clear expectations, when they are valued, and when they have opportunities for professional growth. To help ESP reach their professional potential, we’ve developed the ESP Professional Growth Continuum (PGC) through participatory action research and with the active involvement of ESP and other stakeholders. The PGC provides clear pathways for professional learning and growth throughout the careers of ESP.

The ESP Professional Growth Continuum (PGC) consists of eight Universal Standards within three Levels of Practice. The three Levels of Practice begin with Foundational, moving to Proficient, and working toward an Advanced/Mastery level of professional practice. These three Levels of Practice span across all nine ESP career families with opportunities for ESP to enhance their professional standing by being a role model, mentor, and/or leader at each level.   

The PGC serves as a map of how ESP can grow professionally; however, professional growth is not meant to be linear or hierarchical. An individual can be proficient for one ESP Universal Standard of practice, but also advanced for another. The model is fluid so that ESP can build their professional capacity in one or more standards by participating in professional learning opportunities aligned with each Level of Practice to complement on-the-job experiences and training.

The ESP Professional Growth Continuum Model


Professional Learning Through NEA Micro-credentials

By completing micro-credentials, ESP can learn how to use The Universal Standards and Levels of Practice to reflect on current levels of skills and knowledge, and map out the area(s) that can be strengthened or improved upon in order to move along the continuum of professional growth.


Learn more and get started on NEA Micro-credentials here.


Explore the companion report, Great Teaching and Learning: Creating the Culture to Support Professional Excellence, focusing on teachers transforming school culture to create student learning. Then join us in pursuing the  vision of these reports for our students, our profession, and the well-being of each community!


Explore NEA's Leadership Development page to learn more about NEA's Leadership Competencies!

Professional Development Opportunities

NEA offers a wide variety of ESP specific professional development programs through our state affiliates, national conferences and programs, and virtual trainings. Visit the NEA ESP Professional Development page for more information.