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ESP Professional Growth Continuum

We're advancing the professional learning and growth of education support professionals throughout their careers
ESP Professional Growth Continuum Cover

The ESP Professional Growth Continuum (PGC) is a first-of-its-kind framework to help education support professionals (ESPs) raise their professional standing at every stage of their career. The PGC outlines standards for what ESPs should know and be able to do to elevate their practice and foster student and school success at any stage of their careers. The continuum model reflects the skill levels of an ESP and provides a path to attaining further knowledge and mastery as indicated within eight universal standards.

Each standard contains three levels of practice—foundational, proficient, and advanced/mastery—and applies to all career families.   

The Eight Universal Standards

Cultural Competence
Health and Safety
Large blue circle that lists the 8 ESP Universal Standards: Communication, Cultural Competence, Organization, Reporting, Ethics, Health and Safety, Technology, and Professionalism

The Standards span across all career families and provide ESPs with:  

  • a way to identify skills, knowledge, experience, and responsibility they bring to the job and want to strengthen to better serve their community, students, and school;  

  • the language to describe their value and impact on the school, district, or worksite with peers, supervisors, families, community members, and school leadership;  

  • guidance on how to advance their skill set through leadership, mentorship, serving as a peer role model; and 

  • a Standards-based demonstration through the NEA PGC micro-credentials of skills and knowledge that can be used to bargain for: time, space, and money for professional development; paid professional development; continuing education credits; and movement on a salary scale (e.g., increased pay or stipends).       

Implement the PGC Standards into Your Professional Practice

  • Take a look at the Standards for your career family. (Download below)

  • Contact your association to see what opportunities you have to use the Standards. 

  • Watch the NEA ESP Quality Department webinar, The PGC: What it is and How to use it

  • Take online courses! NEA offers free, self-paced independent study online courses for each of the universal standards. Get started >

  • Pursue NEA’s PGC micro-credentials! Earn recognition for your skills and knowledge by pursuing the newly updated NEA ESP Professional Growth Continuum micro-credentials.  Developed for ESP members by ESP members, these micro-credentials validate your professional impact and make your resume pop.  Start your digital learning opportunity today!

Learn more about how to implement the PGC into your professional practice.

Andrea Beeman
It takes the whole school [system] to support the whole student. Although there is a long history of standards for teachers, the PGC is the first [comprehensive] articulation of professional skills from ESPs, elevating ESPs as integral members of the education team.
Quote by: Andrea Beeman, Special Education Paraeducator

ESP Growth Continuum Micro-Credentials

Earn micro-credentials while learning how to use The Universal Standards and Levels of Practice in order to move along the continuum of professional growth.
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.