University of Vermont

The Center on Disability and Community Inclusion (CDCI)
Untitled Document

Paraeducator Support:



Carter, E. W., O’Rourke, L., Sisco, L., & Pelsue, D. (in press). Knowledge, responsibilities, and training needs of paraprofessionals in elementary and secondary schools. Remedial and Special Education.


Paraprofessionals are assuming an increasingly prominent role in providing educational services and supports to children and youth with disabilities. We queried 313 paraprofessional working in 77 elementary, middle, and high schools about (a) the contexts within which they support students with disabilities, (b) their knowledge about core competencies in educating these students, (c) the job-related tasks they perform most frequently, (d) their perceived ability to perform these tasks effectively, and (e) their need for further training across these knowledge and task areas. We found that paraprofessionals generally worked with a broad range of students in multiple types of classrooms within varied instructional contexts. Although most reported having moderate levels of understanding across core knowledge standards, paraprofessionals articulated a need for additional training in each area. On-the-job training represented the dominant avenue for equipping paraprofessionals to assume their roles. Paraprofessionals reported assuming a large number of job responsibilities daily or weekly, with some consistency evident among paraprofessionals working at different levels across the grade span and with children with varying support needs. In light of recent legislative and policy initiatives focused on increasing the quality of the special education workforce, recommendations for future research and improved practice in this area are provided.

Last modified February 21 2008 10:52 AM

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