W S PECI A E0 CTI O
What You Should Know About Ensuring a Highly
n 1965, fewer than 10,000 parapro-
fessionals-defined here as school
employees who assist with the delivery
of educational services under the di-
rection of licensed/certificated profes-
sionals-were employed in the nation's
schools. Current estimates range upward
of 500,000, with the prospect of thou-
sands more paraprofessionals entering
nd, new the workforce in the coming years. More
cents, and than 50 percent of these paraprofession-
als work with students with disabilities.
As the number of paraprofessionals in
hly schools has increased, their roles also
fessional have expanded. Unlike their cohorts
40 years ago who primarily performed
clerical and housekeeping tasks, today's
paraprofessionals have assumed addi-
tional responsibilities, with an emphasis
on supporting teaching and learning.
Nationwide, paraprofessionals spend at
least 10 percent of their time on each of
the following instructional and learner
FEBRUARY2004 Providing instructional support in
PB-20 small groups.
Providing one-on-one instruction.
Implementing behavioral manage-
JDIES IN SPECIAL Meeting with teachers.
* Collecting data on students.
* Providing personal care assistance.
* Monitoring hallways, study halls, and
other learning environments.
It appears that these trends-rising de-
mand for paraprofessionals coupled with
a greater emphasis on their instructional
and learner support roles-are only go-
ing to increase. As school districts contin-
ue to rely on paraprofessionals to assist
with instructional and learning tasks, the
issue becomes one of quantity-ensuring
an adequate supply-as well as quality-
making sure that those paraprofessionals
who are employed are qualified. The lat-
ter issue has particular implications for
state and local educational leaders in
light of recent federal requirements re-
lated to paraprofessional preparation.
Are you prepared to ensure a highly quali-
fied paraprofessional workforce? Read on
to gain insights from the research.
Supply and Demand: Retaining
Increased demand may be even more
acute in school districts that have turned
to paraprofessionals to help address
needs related to:
-- increased dema
prepared to ensu
I = SPECIAL EDUCATION WORKFORCEWATC INSIGHTS FRO RESARC
* Continuing efforts to include
students with disabilities in the
general education classroom
and the community.
* A growing need for related
services for students.
* Increasing numbers of students
from diverse cultural and lin-
Further, shortages of paraprofes-
sionals are being noted in some
rural areas, as well as in spe-
cialized areas such as assisting
students in transition programs,
working with students with autism,
helping students from culturally
The 1990s saw
a 48 percent
with an 18
and a 13
ly diverse back-
support to stu-
dents with emo-
Are you pre-
pared for pos-
One way to ad-
shortages is to
als suggest consideration of the
* Make available opportuni-
ties to advance professionally
(e.g., career ladders).
* Offer higher salaries.
* Provide administrative support
(e.g., adequate break time,
substitute coverage, planning
time with the teacher).
* Ensure a culture of respect
(e.g., being perceived as a
team member, being invited to
Changing Roles and
Sure Paraprofessionals Are
Increased reliance on parapro-
fessionals to provide instructional
and learner support requires on-
going professional development
and supervision. Provisions in
the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (IDEA) allow para-
professionals and assistants who
are appropriately trained and
supervised to assist in the pro-
vision of special education and
related services to children with
disabilities. The No Child Left
Behind Act of 2002 adds to this
requirement by establishing train-
ing and supervision requirements
those who work with students with
disabilities-who provide instruc-
tional support services and whose
position receives funding from Title
I or who work in a schoolwide Title
I program. New candidates, as
well as currently employed para-
professionals by the year 2006,
must complete at least one of the
* Two years of study at an insti-
tution of higher education.
* Obtain an associates degree
* Demonstrate through a for-
mal state or local assessment
knowledge and skills in read-
ing, writing, and mathematics.
Direct supervision by licensed staff
is a key element of federal regu-
lations. Teachers must develop
strategies for supervising para-
tional plans, providing on-the-job
training, monitoring daily activi-
ties-and administrators must
promote effective supervisory re-
lationships and create infrastruc-
tures that reward teams.
Teachers and administrators
who serve in supervisory roles
also can do much to ensure
that paraprofessionals have ad-
equate knowledge and skills for
new instructional support roles.
Paraprofessionals who receive
inservice training or preservice
preparation feel better prepared
to fulfill their job responsibilities.
Paraprofessionals benefit from
training that is specific to their
work, including such areas as
positive behavioral support, com-
munication and problem solving
strategies, instructional and as-
sessment accommodations, data
collection strategies, etc.
For More Information
Information reported in this brief
was based on the COPSSE issue
brief, Paraprofessionals, prepared
by Teri Wallace. This document
can be found on the COPSSE web
site at www.copsse.org.
I- CENTER ON
STUDIES IN SPECIAL
The Center on Personnel Studies in Spe-
cial Education is funded by the Office of
Special Education Programs of the U.S.
Department of Education [cooperative
agreement #H325Q000002]. COPSSE
research is designed to inform scholars
and policymakers about beginning teach-
er quality, effective initial preparation, and
the effects of preparation alternatives. The
Center is directed by Drs. Paul Sindelar
and Mary Brownell. The policy briefs were
produced by Warger, Eavy & Associates.
University of Florida, 300 Norman Hall,
PO. Box 117050, Gainesville, FL 32611
352-392-0701 (X283), www.copsse.org
Sdo not necessarily reflect the
I viewsoftheUS Department
;Mr of Education