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Paraeducators and IDEA 2004: Promoting Appropriate Supervision of Paraeducators

Paras and IDEA 2004Why This Topic Is Important to Paraeducators

Paraeducators want to be sure they are doing their jobs properly. Proper supervision helps you provide quality services to students with disabilities.

IDEA 2004 acknowledges that only paraprofessionals who are appropriately trained and supervised should be allowed to provide services to students with disabilities. Although the law requires adequate supervision of paraprofessionals, it fails to address the question of who is to provide such supervision.

Appropriate supervision enhances your ability to effectively perform your duties. One key to adequate supervision of paraeducators is that those who are assigned such supervisory responsibilities have been prepared for those responsibilities. Objective, knowledgeable, and well-trained supervisors who take the time not only to direct but also to listen are essential if your skills are to be maximized.

How to Promote Paraeducator Supervision

IDEA 2004 emphasizes the importance of properly supervised paraprofessionals. To this end, you may need to advocate for proper supervision. What can you do to help make sure that IDEA 2004 is implemented in your state in a manner that is good for you, your students, and your school? What can you do to help others understand and acknowledge the importance of providing proper supervision to paraeducators?

The suggested activities that follow are intended to be coordinated with the assistance of your local Association and UniServ staff. Study the activities below and discuss them with your colleagues, local Association leadership, and UniServ staff. With the assistance of your local and/or state Association leaders and staff, develop an action plan to promote appropriate supervision for paraeducators.

Spreading the Word—Advocacy Activities to be Coordinated with Local Association Leadership

Make sure that the school community understands the importance of appropriate paraeducator supervision.

  • Remind school district personnel that IDEA 2004 requires appropriate training and supervision of all paraeducators who provide services to students with disabilities.
  • Find out who has supervisory responsibility in your district and school. Although the law requires proper supervision of paraeducators, it does not say who should provide such supervision. It is important that your supervisor has been prepared to be a supervisor.

Suggest ways to enhance supervisory experiences.

  • Insist that when teachers or related service personnel serve as supervisors, their supervisory functions be limited to program implementation — including planning, assigning duties, and monitoring paraeducators’ assigned duties. They should not be responsible for hiring, firing, or disciplining paraeducators. Those duties belong to the administration.
  • Recommend that individuals who serve in supervisory roles have adequate training in carrying out their responsibilities.
  • Make sure that job descriptions describe specific roles and responsibilities for both paraeducators and their supervisors. Supervision is enhanced when roles are defi ned. For example, it should be clear that you assist the educator (e.g., the educator develops the lesson plan and you implement a part of the plan).
  • Encourage your district to offer professional development opportunities jointly to teacher and paraeducator teams. For example, professional development opportunities that focus on effective communication skills among adults working with students with disabilities may maximize the quality of service you provide.

To next Section: "Promoting State Certification for Paraeducators"


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