Paraeducators and IDEA 2004
Knowledge, Skills and Advocacy
Everyone who works in a public school today knows that paraeducators play a major role in educating students with disabilities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (commonly referred to as IDEA 2004) also recognizes the important role that paraeducators have in providing services to students with disabilities.
The purpose of this booklet is to provide paraeducators and Association leaders and staff with information about IDEA 2004 that can be used to build knowledge and skills for advocacy. IDEA 2004 guarantees a free, appropriate public education for all students, regardless of the nature or severity of their disabilities. IDEA 2004 is important to paraeducators for many reasons, the most important being:
- It continues to recognize the role of paraeducators in providing services to students with disabilities. Prior to the 1997 amendments, there was no recognition of that role in the federal legislation.
- It highlights the necessity for standards in the training and supervision of paraeducators.
- It supports the involvement of paraeducators as part of the team that provides educational services to children with disabilities.
- It encourages professional development opportunities for paraeducators
IDEA 2004 acknowledges the important role paraeducators play in educating students with disabilities by emphasizing appropriate training and supervision. States must develop laws, regulations, or written policies governing the appropriate training and supervision of paraeducators who work with students with disabilities. IDEA 2004 does not specify exactly what that training and supervision should look like. However, because state laws, regulations, and policies are critical to the work and welfare of all paraeducators, state and local Associations should keep them in mind during all contract negotiations.
All education support employees should receive training—not just paraeducators. All of us who work in education know that the pool of employees working with students with disabilities is expanding and it is our belief—and hope—that future legislation will recognize the need for such training.
Paraeducators and IDEA 2004—Knowledge, Skills, and Advocacy provides Association leaders and staff and paraeducators with information about IDEA 2004 and why IDEA 2004 requirements that affect paraeducators are met. The booklet is organized around several important topics related to paraeducators and IDEA 2004:
- Recognizing and defining the role of paraeducators in serving students with disabilities
- Promoting paraeducator training Promoting appropriate supervision of paraeducators
- Promoting certification for paraeducators in states where no requirements exist
- Examining compensation issues
- Understanding discipline Requirements
- Understanding IDEA 2004 Terminology
The discussion of each topic is intended to be used by paraeducators for self-study and as a resource for local Association professional development and other training programs for Association leaders and staff, paraeducators, teachers, and others on the education team.