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An instructional paraeducator is one who is assigned to assist and support the teacher, but who does not assume the primary responsibility for the classroom. Paraeducators are a valuable asset for teachers in providing support and assistance in instruction and other direct services to students, and in helping to ensure a positive, safe, and supportive learning community.

A paraeducator is qualified to assist certificated teachers in the instruction of exceptional children. The special education paraeducator is a team member who works alongside the special education teacher. The “para” not only frees the teacher from the more routine tasks of the classroom by assisting with education activities and non-teaching tasks, but also serves as an effective part of the educational team. With differentiated responsibilities, the para carries out the programs developed by the special education professionals and is under the supervision of that professional. The scope of the definition described here focuses on the instructional paraeducator who works with a specific teacher and is assigned to a particular classroom.
The personal qualifications of a paraeducator include:
  • Tolerance and understanding of all children.
  • Initiative, so as to take over when needed, with direction.
  • Know what has to be done - do not always rely on the teacher to provide direction.
  • Creativity for positive input into the program.
  • Adaptability for all new situations and programs.
  • Confidentiality with all information about children and families.
  • Good judgment in decision making situations.
  • Courtesy and tact with all other personnel.
  • Dependability with regular attendance and punctuality.
  • Good health and appearance.
The acceptable duties and responsibilities of a paraeducator are as listed below.
Teacher Assistance:
  • Assists in preparation, care and use of instructional materials and equipment.
  • Assists in maintaining good housekeeping standards.
  • Follows instructions under the leadership of the teacher.
  • Assists in maintaining desirable behavior standards.
  • Assists in detecting any behavioral, health or physical deviations which warrant the attention of the teacher.
  • Assumes supervisory role during the teacher’s temporary absence.
  • Scores objective tests and papers and keeps appropriate records for the teacher.
  • Operates and cares for standard audiovisual equipment.
  • Assists in the supervision of lunch room, playground and restroom.
  • Accompanies teacher on extracurricular trips.
  • Aids children in games and proper use of playground equipment.
  • Assists with clerical duties such as preparing instructional materials, art materials, copying, typing, charting, etc.
  • Assists children to and from the bus.
  • Performs related duties as assigned.
 Pupil Assistance:
  •  Assists with group and individual activities.
  •  Supervises children moving in a safe, orderly manner from place to place.
  •  Assists children with personal care and sanitary needs.
  •  Assists handicapped children in walking, using wheelchairs and using special equipment.
  •  Aids children in using audiovisual equipment.
  •  Assists children with their Individual Education Program under the supervision and guidance of the teacher.
  •  Performs related duties as assigned.
  •  Assists with fire drill and tornado procedures.
Unacceptable Practices:
  •  Be solely responsible for a classroom or professional support or related services.
  •  Select diagnostic and psychological instruments or interpret the results of those instruments.
  •  Program or prescribe education activities or materials for the students, without the supervision and guidance of the teacher.
  •  Be solely responsible for preparing lesson plans or initiating original concept instruction.
  •  Be assigned to work the majority of the school day with one or more of the most difficult students merely for the convenience of the teacher.
  •  Be employed in lieu of needed itinerant special education personnel.
  •  Be utilized as a substitute teacher, unless the para possesses the appropriate certificate.
  •  Give medication without training/instruction from the school nurse.
  •  Grade subjective or essay tests.
  •  Be responsible for assigning grades to students.
  •  Regulate pupil behavior by corporal punishment or similar disciplinary means.