Nonteaching Staff Contributes to Successful Student Learning

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

To the Editor:

Education Week highlighted a report last month by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute titled "The Hidden Half: School Employees Who Don't Teach."

This report implies that the increase in "nonteaching" staff constitutes a potential luxury our schools can do without. Particularly troublesome is the statement that these professionals do not contribute to the academic achievement of students. This is simply not true.

Specialized instructional-support personnel (e.g., school psychologists, counselors, social workers, nurses, speech-language pathologists) provide and support school-based prevention and intervention services to address barriers to educational success, ensure positive conditions for learning, and help all students achieve academically. This work includes providing critical mental-health services, designing behavior- and classroom-management strategies, working with teachers to assess and individualize instruction, and supporting implementation of positive discipline and school safety efforts.

Properly trained paraprofessionals also contribute to classroom climate and learning. These are necessities, not luxuries, for effective teaching and learning anywhere there are diverse learners and a commitment to make the success of all students a reality. The Fordham Institute report encourages districts to reconsider the cost-benefit of keeping these staff members on the payroll. We encourage districts to consider the costs of not having these professionals.

Certainly, teachers are the central force in successful schooling, but they cannot be expected to meet all of the needs of all students on their own.

Kelly Vaillancourt
Director, Government Relations
National Association of School Psychologists
Bethesda, Md.

Libby Nealis
Director, Policy and Advocacy
School Social Work Association of America
Washington, D.C.

Neil A. Snyder
Director of Federal Advocacy
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Washington, D.C.

The authors are co-chairs of the National Alliance of Specialized Instructional Support Personnel, in Washington.

Vol. 34, Issue 04, Page 24

Published in Print: September 17, 2014, as Nonteaching Staff Contributes To Successful Student Learning
Related Stories
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories