Print Friendly and PDF

Guidelines and Legal Information

Paraprofessionals: Who are they?

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) provided a guidance document on the support and supervision of paraprofessionals in Local Education Agencies: The Virginia Paraprofessional Guide to Supervision and Collaboration with Paraprofessionals: A Partnership (PDF). According to this guidance document, a paraprofessional is a school employee who works under the supervision of a licensed staff member to assist in providing instruction, behavioral support and other services to students and their families (Adapted from A.L. Pickett, Director for the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals, City University of New York, 1997). Services can be instructional or non-instructional in nature. The prefix "para" means "along side of." Therefore, it is correct to assume that a paraprofessional works along side of an educator. Currently, due to the increase in the population of students with autism spectrum disorder throughout Virginia, a large number of paraprofessionals are performing a variety of roles. These roles include but are not limited to:

  • Implementing teacher planned instruction
  • Monitoring and providing assistance to students during classroom activities
  • Supporting students using instructional modifications for lessons prepared by the classroom teacher
  • Reinforcing skills taught previously
  • Communicating with the student's team members about his/her program
  • Recording and charting data
  • Preparing instructional materials
  • Supervising students
  • Setting up and cleaning up after class activities
  • Providing behavioral and social support
  • Implementing behavior management plans developed by the teacher or the team
  • Facilitating peer interactions
  • Assisting with individualized student plans in educational settings
  • Assisting with individualized student plans in community learning settings
  • Assisting with personal care including feeding, toileting and hygiene support
  • Assisting students with unique motor or mobility needs
  • Assisting students with unique sensory needs

Federal

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal legislation that governs special education in the United States. This legislation provides provisions for school divisions to provide special education services for individuals with disabilities. IDEA also includes some information about paraprofessionals. For more information about IDEA, please visit the U.S. Department of Education's site on IDEA.

What Does IDEA Say About Paraprofessionals?

Show details

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act is the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which gives provisions for education in the United States. This act includes provisions about qualifications of staff, requirements for examining student achievement, and professional development. NCLB also provides information related to paraprofessionals in public school systems. NCLB defines a paraprofessional, discusses the qualifications for paraprofessionals, and provides some guidance on professional development. NCLB clearly outlines that paraprofessionals must be qualified and that parents have the right to know whether their child is receiving services provided by a paraprofessional and, if they are, the qualifications of that paraprofessional. Below you will find information on what NCLB says about paraprofessionals. For more information about this Act, please visit the U.S. Department of Education website on NCLB.

What are the Qualifications for a Paraprofessional According to NCLB?

Show details

What Does a Paraprofessional Do According to NCLB?

Show details

What is a Highly Qualified Paraprofessional According to NCLB?

Show details

What Does NCLB Say About Professional Development for Paraprofessionals?

Show details

Virginia

The Virginia Department of Education and Paraprofessionals

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) provides the following information and guidance about paraprofessionals.

The Virginia Paraprofessional Guide to Supervision and Collaboration with Paraprofessionals: A Partnership

Show details

What Does Highly Qualified Mean in Virginia?

Show details

What about Professional Development for Paraprofessionals in Virginia?

Show details

bottom of main container