Elizabeth Bartell and Robin Mantaro
Para educators play an increasingly vital role in the educational setting. The role of para educators “has evolved from duties that were mostly administrative in nature to those that are now mostly dealing with instructional content” (Tews & Lupart, 2008, p.39).
Ensuring that para educators have the proper training to implement increasingly complex academic and behavior goals is not only paramount for student learning and achievement, but a legal mandate of IDEA, 2004. IDEA (2004) requires “the state education agency must establish and maintain qualifications to ensure that personnel are appropriately and adequately prepared and trained, including that those personnel have the content knowledge and skills to serve children with disabilities.”
Para educators may have limited knowledge of the job responsibilities and expectations involved with working with students with disabilities. School districts have the responsibility of providing training and staff development to para educators, ensuring they are sufficiently prepared to function effectively as members of the educational team, improving student achievement and engagement.