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School & District Management Explainer

Who Are Paraprofessionals and What Do They Do?

Getting to know one of the most important roles in the classroom
By Vanessa Solis — June 15, 2022 1 min read
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Having a paraprofessional often makes an enormous difference in the efficiency and quality of classroom instruction. Ideally, paraprofessionals are teachers’ partners in identifying and providing the instructional, linguistic, or behavioral supports students need to thrive.

What Does a Paraprofessional Do?
3 Qualifications for paraprofessionals.
Paraprofessionals have a wide range of responsibilities and skills. Some certifications include dual-language instruction and special Education.
Logistical support: Paras assist teachers 
take attendance
grade assignments
administer tests
follow students' progress during the school year
create reports to help parents understand the curriculum
supervise students in class, between classes, during recess, lunch, and on field trips
Paraprofessionals: 
Act as an nurturing influence for students during lessons
provide one-on-one assistance to students
encourage students with social difficulties or disabilities to speak up in class when they have the correct answer 
reinforce lesson plans to small groups
Language: Bilingual paraprofessionals can act as translators in the classroom, Paraprofessionals may be asked to interpret for parents during open houses or assist with parent-teacher phone conversations
Behavior: Paraprofessionals can serve as a guide to students on proper classroom behavior.
They enforce school rules, monitor the classroom, minimize distractions and disruptions
Behavior: For students with a behavior intervention plan (BIP)* paraprofessionals can provide coping strategies, encourage positive behavior, redirect off-task behavior, minimize distractions and disruptions, track and log behavior frequency
Paraprofessionals work an average of 35 hours a week.
44% of paraprofessionals say they receive too little professional development for their jobs
13% of paraprofessionals said they received no PD in the past year
Paraprofessionals can make an enormous difference in classroom efficiency and IEP* implementation. They can be a vital part of a student's educational team.

SOURCES: Education Week reporting; EdWeek Research Center; Verywell family; National Resource Center for Paraeducators, Related Service Providers, & Interveners

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