Paraprofessionals: Who They Are and What They Do

Student and teacher reading

By Ginny Osewalt

Paraprofessional is the fancy word to describe a host of people who surround and help your child every day at school. They are sometimes called classroom assistants, instructional aides, teacher assistants, and paraeducators. They are in a support role, and so they must be directed and supervised by a certified teacher or other school professionals.

It’s important to note that the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) uses the term “paraprofessional,” which is why you might see and hear this word a lot. Read on for information on the types of support paraprofessionals offer and other information.

Instructional Support

Paraprofessionals can work with students in general education classrooms; “inclusion classrooms” that include general education students and special education students taught together and in “self-contained classrooms” just for students with learning and attention issues. A paraprofessional may work with your child one-on-one or in a small group to reinforce what she learned earlier from the teacher.

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