University of Vermont

The Center on Disability and Community Inclusion (CDCI)

Paraeducator Support:



French, N. K. (2003). Paraeducators in special education programs. Focus on Exceptional Children, 36(2), 1-16.

Summary Statement:

This article reviews a substantial portion of the professional literature and includes some new information that has not been widely disseminated. Most notably, the article includes two paragraphs (p. 5) on an initiative in Scotland where more than 4,400 classroom assistants were appointed between 2000-2001 "in an effort to improve adult-to-student ratios." The article references a Scottish evaluation report; though the article does indicate the study's findings were not disaggregated for special education students.

The article is divided into three main categories. First, French poses the heading question, "Alongside the teacher or alongside the student?" This is followed by subheadings labeled: (a) "Inclusion", (b) "Emphasis on Student Achievement of High Standards", (c) "Legislation and Litigation", (d) "Related Services", and (e) "Shortages of Fully Qualified Professionals".

Second, French poses the heading question, "How effective are paraeducators?" This is followed by subheadings labeled: (a) "Social Interactions, Academic Engagement, and Inclusion", (b) "Effects on teachers and the school community", and (c) "Effects on Student Achievement".

Third, French makes "Recommendations on Improving Paraeducator Effectiveness" including:
Recommendation 1: Clearly Define the Role and Responsibilities
Recommendation 2: Assure Supervising by Trained Teachers
Recommendation 3: Provide Appropriate Training
Each area is given considerable attention.

The article closes with four suggested web-sites regarding paraprofessionals:
PAR2A (University of Colorado at Denver
National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals
Center for Multilingual Resources (University of Southern California)
Center on Disability & Community Inclusion (University of Vermont)

Summarized by: Michael Giangreco - July 2004

Last modified February 14 2008 11:23 AM

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