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Who are Paraeducators?

Paraeducators are school employees who work alongside and/or under the direction of a licensed or certificated educator to support and assist in providing instructional and non-instructional services to children, youth, and their families. Also known as paraprofessionals, teacher aides, teaching assistants and other titles, paraeducators are integral members of the instructional team.

Teacher shortages, increasing numbers of English language learners, increased employment of one-to-one paraeducators for students with severe disabilities, the growing need for compensatory/remedial education, and federal and state mandates are just some of the factors that have resulted in the increased employment of paraeducators.

Employment of paraeducators has grown steadily and their functions have changed dramatically since they were introduced into classrooms as teacher aides in the 1950’s. Their duties are no longer limited to recordkeeping, preparing materials, or monitoring students in lunchrooms and other settings. Today, paraeducators are active team members that provide assistance with instruction, classroom management, and other direct services to students and their families.

In many districts, paraeducators live in the school neighborhood, speak the language of the students and provide a special liaison to the community and its culture.

To meet the needs of the whole student and reach the highest level of student achievement, it is critical that teachers, paraeducators, and administrators work collaboratively, communicate effectively and respect one another.



Paraeducators, Teachers & Administrators


Paraeducators

  • should have clearly defined roles and responsibilities and job descriptions;
  • should be highly trained through targeted, ongoing professional development that is tied to standards, knowledge and skill core competencies and roles and responsibilities;
  • should receive ongoing training on building effective teacher-paraeducator teams, instructional strategies, and other relevant topics; 
  • should have access to orientation programs and career preparation training; and
  • should have access to professional growth and career advancement opportunities.

Teachers

  • should receive pre- and in-Service training and other professional development on their roles of delegating, coordinating and directing the work of paraeducators; and
  • should receive training on building effective teacher-paraeducator teams.

Administrators

  • should receive training on supporting effective teacher-paraeducator teams; and
  • should receive training on the supervision and evaluation of paraeducators.