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Core Competency Area 8

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Area Introduction

Paraprofessionals have been, and continue to be, a significant presence in the educational process and in the schools they serve. The services they provide are critical to the effectiveness of many of the programs provided in the schools. Paraprofessionals have a variety of responsibilities and roles depending on the district needs and the job description. Regardless of the type of setting, every paraprofessional has the potential to positively impact the learning environment in a variety of ways.

There are several ways paraprofessionals help to improve the quality of educational programs and instructional activities. Probably, the most important contributions they make are tied to meeting the instructional objectives for individual and small groups of students. Paraprofessionals enhance the quality of educational and related services in the following ways:

  • Programs become more student oriented
  • Personalized instructional support for individual support for individual students can be increased
  • Free up licensed staff to attend to required specialized planning and servicing.

Paraprofessionals are typically different from other educational professionals in the amount of education, certification, degree of responsibility, and extent of supervision required for the job. Responsibilities of paraprofessionals vary greatly depending on the individuals with whom they work, and the setting in which their job takes place. More and more, paraprofessionals can be seen working alongside individuals with disabilities in education and community-based settings.

Paraprofessionals are an integral part of the instructional process, which has student achievement as its primary goal. Paraprofessionals have a strong professional identity, and they advocate for their profession by maintaining positive, supportive, collaborative, and professional relationships with other members of the education team. Student achievement depends on rigorous standards and a knowledgeable education team. To have high standards for students, there must be high standards for the staff that works with them. It is particularly important that paraprofessionals receive the training necessary not only to assist in ongoing programs, but also to become knowledgeable about their responsibilities and rights. Like all other career educators, paraprofessionals need the support of a program that recognizes their qualifications and assures their ongoing training.

There exists a misconception that the only skill required of educators is a desire to work with children and an (innate) ability to do so effectively. It is true that part of this work is instinctive, such as listening to children and understanding their needs. However, to support the educational process effectively, paraprofessionals must also enter the profession with basic skills to function in the workplace and then be trained in knowledge and skills (the competencies) that support the educational process. Paraprofessionals also must understand the needs of their particular workplace, their role in the classroom, and how their skills are used in that role. In addition, paraprofessionals need to have respect for the diverse populations that they may encounter and they must practice within the policies and standards of their workplace.

(Clicking the hyperlinked competency code, e.g., 1K3B, will take you to the associated training unit.)

8. Professionalism and Ethical Practices
8.1 (8K1B, 8S1A) Ability to demonstrate a commitment to assisting students in reaching their highest potential, including the modeling of positive behavior.
8.2 (8S2B) Ability to carry out responsibilities in a manner that demonstrates knowledge of, and a positive respect for, the distinctions between the roles and responsibilities of paraprofessionals, professionals, and other support personnel.
8.3 (8S7B) Perform duties within the context of written standards and policies of the school, state, or agency where they are employed.
8.4 (8S3B) Perform duties in a manner that demonstrates the ability to separate personal issues from one's employment responsibilities.
8.5 (8S4A) Ability to show respect for the diversity of students.
8.6 (8S6A) Ability to demonstrate proficiency in academic skills (including oral and written communication) while knowing how to self-evaluate one's own knowledge of the content being taught.
8.7 (8S5A) Ability to show a willingness to participate in on-going staff development, self-evaluation, and apply constructive feedback.


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Your facilitator may ask you to turn in a written copy of the area review, in which case you can use either the pdf or rtf file. If your facilitator wants you to submit an electronic file, download the rtf file and open it in a Word Processor.

Area Evaluation


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