Nena Stracuzzi, Jeri Katz
Date of Award
Doctor of Education
Department or Academic Unit
College of Professional Studies, Department of Education
education, special education, paraeducators, paraprofessionals, professional development, special education, supervision, teacher aide
As nationwide school enrollments are projected to increase slowly over the next decade, it is predicted that there will be a greater increase among students identified for special education services. As a result, the employment of paraprofessionals who aid these students is expected to grow by ten percent between 2008 and 2018 (Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010). The purpose of this qualitative descriptive case study was to determine the current responsibilities of paraprofessionals at The Special Education Collaborative (TSEC) and to identify the supervision, training practices, and needs of these paraprofessionals. This was evaluated in regards to the differences and similarities that exist between current training opportunities and perceived training needs. The components of French's (2003) theoretical framework were used to frame the research protocols and analysis for this investigation.
As projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010-2011 Edition, there was an increase in the number of paraprofessionals that were required to service students enrolled at TSEC. At the time of this study, TSEC employed seventy-one paraprofessionals and thirty-two special education teachers. The participants in this case study included nine paraprofessionals, four special education teachers, and one supervisor. The researcher conducted semi-structured interviews with all participants; conducted five hours of observation in each of the classrooms, totaling twenty hours; and reviewed fifteen different documents that TSEC currently has in place regarding the roles and responsibilities of paraprofessionals.
The overriding findings in this study revealed: (a) inconsistencies between French's (2003) framework and its application; (b) a lack of training for both paraprofessionals and their supervising teachers; (c) implementation of all of the elements of French's (2003) framework were hindered by time constraints; (d) an expansion of French's (2003) framework is necessary; (e) attention must be given to each of the seven executive functions outlined in French's (2003) framework so that school districts can maximize the effectiveness of paraprofessionals in the classroom; and (f) inadequate role clarification, orientation, mentoring, training, and supervision compromise the scope and nature of paraprofessionals' work.
Jennifer Ann Boudreau
Boudreau, Jennifer Ann, "Paraprofessionals as educators: differing perceptions, responsibilities, and training" (2011). Education Doctoral Theses. Paper 6. http://hdl.handle.net/2047/d20002130
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