Role of Paraprofessionals

Paraprofessionals, whether they serve as instructional and/or personal care assistants, play an important role in providing services for students, teachers, and parents, as well as enhancing access to the general education program for students with disabilties.

In order to be most effective in performing their responsibilities, paraprofessionals engage in continuing professional development and training, collaborate actively with classroom teachers and other Special Education services personnel, and are provided with appropriate and ongoing administrative supervision and feedback.

“It is critical for paraprofessionals to receive explicit training, and to have access to ongoing supervision, dialogue, and coaching from professional educators skilled in the (instructional) approach being used.” (Causton-Theoharis, J., et. al., 2007)

The professional development resources that follow provide more specific information on the role of paraprofessionals in educating students with disabilities.


Professional Development Resources: Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN)

Click here to access PaTTAN professional development resources specifically designed for paraprofessionals.


Professional Development Module

Roles, Responsibilities and Relationships of Paraprofessionals in Supporting Student Learning and Achievement

The Paraprofessional’s Role in Creating Inclusive Learning Environments


Research Briefs and Articles

(Click on the underlined links to view the entire documents.)

Causton-Theoharis, J., et. al. (2007). “Paraprofessionals’ Role in Effective Literacy Instruction“. Teaching Exceptional Children, 40 (1), 56-62.

Giangreco, Michael F. (2003). “Working with Paraprofessionals.” Educational Leadership, 61 (2), 50-53.

French, Nancy K. (2002). “Maximize Paraprofessional Services for Students with Learning Disabilities.” Intervention in School and Clinic, 38 (1), 50-55.

U.S. Department of Education (2001). “SPeNSE Fact Sheet: Role of Paraprofessionals in Special Education.” Ideas that Work, U. S. Department of Special Education Programs.


Videos of Interviews and Classroom Lessons

Click here to view excerpts of interviews with several paraprofessionals, as well as classroom video clips that illustrate them working with students in actual classroom situations.