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Paraeducator Roles and Responsibilities

Building an Awareness and Appreciation of Paraeducator Roles and Responsibilities

Para is a prefix derived from ancient Greek meaning alongside of or akin to.

It has been used for many years to designate those who work with and assist licensed professionals in fields such as medicine and law. Like paralegals and paramedics, paraeducators are respected members of the professional team.

Who are paraeducators? The National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals coined the term paraeducator.

NEA’s Education Support Professional Quality department (ESPQ) adopted the term to refer to a school employee who works alongside and under the supervision of a licensed or certificated educator to support and assist in providing instructional and other services to children, youth, and their families.


The licensed educator remains responsible for:

  • Overall conduct and management of the classroom or Program
  • Design, implementation, and evaluation of the instructional Program
  • Student progress

Paraeducators are an integral part of the educational process. A majority of paraeducators work directly with students in their formative years at the preschool, kindergarten, and elementary levels. An even larger number work with special education students. Most have job responsibilities that relate to academic achievement and school safety.

Although they have many different job titles—as evidenced in the list below, A Sampling of Paraeducator Job Titles —all paraeducators provide valuable services to the total educational program. It is important that the work of paraeducators be acknowledged.

Recognizing the Benefits of Paraeducators

Trained paraeducators can help a school district deliver the quality education the community demands. Everyone benefits from the work of paraeducators—students, teachers, administrators, other members of the education team, parents, and school board members.

Teachers and other licensed and/or certificated education team members—such as speech-language pathologists and occupational and physical therapists—find that paraeducators play an invaluable role in supporting their work. Paraeducators reduce the number of students to adults.

 This allows the teacher or service provider to offer more differentiated instruction, and students benefit from the individualized attention that paraeducators provide.

Parents have yet another reason to feel secure that their children are receiving a quality education when trained paraeducators are in the school as part of the education team. Parents appreciate the individualized attention and support their children receive from paraeducators.

School board members and local administrators find that employing paraeducators helps them make more effective use of public funds while maintaining quality standards in their schools. Paraeducators extend the functions and flexibility of the education team.

The support that paraeducators provide to other education team members goes a long way toward helping administrators retain staff and maintain a continuity of services to students.

A Sampling of Paraeducator Job Titles

  Paraeducators are known by many job titles, only a few of which are included in this list:

  • Behavior Interventionist
  • Career Specialist
  • Classroom Assistant
  • Early Childhood Education Assistance Program Family Support
  • Educational Assistant
  • Educational Paraprofessional
  • Educational Technician
  • English as a Second Language/Bilingual Assistant
  • Guidance Specialist
  • Home Liaison
  • Instructional Aide
  • Instructional Assistant
  • Interpreter
  • Job Coach
  • Learning Assistance Program Assistant
  • Media Center Assistant
  • Occupational Information Specialist
  • Outreach Specialist
  • Paraeducator
  • Paraprofessional
  • Playground Assistant
  • Secondary Programs Assistant
  • Special Education Assistant
  • Speech/Language Assistant
  • Supervision Aide
  • Teacher Assistant
  • Teacher Aide
  • Team Partner
  • Technology Assistant
  • Transition Specialist
  • Tutor


Download a PDF version of the Paraeducator Handbook (550kb, 46pp).

  • anc_dyn_linksEnsuring Appropriate Training and Supervision
  • anc_dyn_linksSupporting Paraeducator Professionalism
  • anc_dyn_linksBeing Aware of Laws and Regulations Affecting Paraeducators
  • anc_dyn_linksProviding Ongoing Professional Development
  • anc_dyn_linksParaeducator Roles and Responsibilities