University of Vermont

The Center on Disability and Community Inclusion (CDCI)

Paraeducator Support:



Morgan, J., Ashbaker, B.Y., & Allred, D. (2000). Providing training for paraeducators: What motivates them to attend? The Researcher: A Publication of the Northern Rocky Mountain Educational Research Association 15(1), 50-55.

Abstract from article:

"With the increase in numbers of paraeducators (teacher's aides, classroom assistants, paraprofessionals) in classrooms in the last half century, and the increased sophistication of their assigned roles, the issue of training for this group becomes critical. Much of the training which is currently provided to paraeducators is not linked to a career pay structure, and administrators may be skeptical as to whether paraeducators would be willing to attend training given this lack of a vehicle for recognizing increased skill and knowledge levels. Paraeducators in three Western states were surveyed to ascertain their motivation for attending training. The results of this study suggest that paraeducators'; motivation for attending training is based on a simple desire to be better equipped to perform the tasks required of them."


This article begins with a short history of the rise in demand for paraeducators since the end of the Second World War, (an estimated increase by 38% by 2005). How to properly train and supervise these paraeducators is now a major consideration in schools across the country. The results of this data-based study reflect that the strongest motivation in training will come from the paraeducators themselves.
According to the results of this study the main reason for attending training by paraeducators is acquiring job-related skills and knowledge. This reinforces the idea that paraeducators want to be more competent and qualified in their jobs. The survey also concluded that financial considerations were of "minimal importance" to most of the paraeducators in deciding whether to attend the training.

Subjects or participants:

215 Paraeducators in three Northern Rocky Mountain states (Colorado, Idaho and Utah).


Written surveys were distributed and completed on-site at conference workshops and school district organized courses. The survey allowed for open-ended and multiple choice responses. Demographic information included the number of years working as a paraeducator, and how participation at the meeting was funded.


Responses to motivation for attending included:

1. Acquiring job-related skill/knowledge (46%)
2. Acquiring formal qualification (23%)
3. Personal interest (15%)
4. Factors relating to training, e.g. offered close to home, it sounded interesting (7%)
5. Third party influence (9%)

Financial considerations played little part (less than 1% in Colorado and Idaho, 8% in Utah) in the paraeducators decision to attend the training.

Summarized by: Stephen Doll - January 2002

Last modified February 14 2008 11:23 AM

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