A paraprofessional educator
, alternatively known as para-pros
, instructional assistants
or teacher's aides
, is a teaching
-related position within a school generally responsible for specialized or concentrated assistance for students
and secondary schools
Not all states have a fixed definition of 'paraprofessional' and may use all of the terms listed above interchangably.
Paraprofessional educators generally assist teachers
in the classroom
. Job duties range from filling teaching positions to supplementing regular classroom curriculum
with additional enrichment activities for students. In some areas paraprofessional educators are called "supply teachers", filling-in for regular classroom teachers. For example, if a female teacher becomes pregnant and needs to become home bound, a supply teacher can fill in for the rest of the year or as long as the school district needs them to. Other positions include classroom aide, special education aide, school librarian
, and tutor
Requirements to become a para-pro vary widely, normally ranging from a high school diploma
, two years of college
education, or an associate degree
. Some positions may require experience, particularly in special education
and English as a Second Language
In the United States the No Child Left Behind
federal legislation requires that educational paraprofessionals be "highly qualified. The definition of highly qualified is left to the individual states, as are the means for measuring qualification. The United States Department of Education
has issued guidelines regarding paraprofessionals whose positions are funded under Title I
of the federal legislation. According to the USDOE, "Paraprofessionals who provide instructional support," include those who
- Provide one-on-one tutoring if such tutoring is scheduled at a time when a student would not otherwise receive instruction from a teacher,
- Assist with classroom management, such as by organizing instructional materials,
- Provide instructional assistance in a computer laboratory,
- Conduct parental involvement activities,
- Provide instructional support in a library or media center,
- Act as a translator, or
- Provide instructional support services under the direct supervision of a highly qualified teacher.
Some jurisdictions offer or require certification for some paraprofessionals. Others may require a contracted paraprofesional to pass an examination.
A paraprofessional certificate is typically a certificate that an educator has obtained by passing an exam enabling them to perform a task requiring extensive knowledge, but not requiring a college degree and teaching license. Subject areas could include any areas of education such as a GED Teacher, Alternate School Teacher, ISS Teacher, After School Tutor, Home School Teacher, Credit Recovery Teacher, Continuing Education Teacher, and any Special Education area which could be but is not limited to CML, tutoring, and providing any needs to an individual student.
The median salary for paraprofessionals in schools is $17,502 USD Yearly. Paraprofessional pay varies based on duties, qualifications, and certification requirements, if applicable.
Paraeducator to Teacher Programs
Paraeducators have the potential to become the ideal teachers of our nation’s students. They expand the pool of potential teachers from under represented groups. A
large percentage of this population have been shown to be prospective teachers of color. School reformers have pointed to the lack of synchrony between
home and school culture as a significant obstacle to minority student achievement. Because paraeducators tend to typically know their students and communities well,
they help make the school experience less alienating and connect it to the students’ cultural experience. In many cases they are native speakers of the students' languages and provide a
needed language resource. They bring with them a great deal of classroom experience and a sense of how children learn based on how they themselves learn.
- Genzuk, M. (1996). Diversifying the Teaching Force: Preparing Paraeducators as Teachers. ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education.