Special Report
School & District Management Explainer

Who Are Paraprofessionals and What Do They Do?

Getting to know one of the most important roles in the classroom
By Vanessa Solis — June 15, 2022 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Having a paraprofessional often makes an enormous difference in the efficiency and quality of classroom instruction. Ideally, paraprofessionals are teachers’ partners in identifying and providing the instructional, linguistic, or behavioral supports students need to thrive.

What Does a Paraprofessional Do?
3 Qualifications for paraprofessionals.
Paraprofessionals have a wide range of responsibilities and skills. Some certifications include dual-language instruction and special Education.
Logistical support: Paras assist teachers 
take attendance
grade assignments
administer tests
follow students' progress during the school year
create reports to help parents understand the curriculum
supervise students in class, between classes, during recess, lunch, and on field trips
Act as an nurturing influence for students during lessons
provide one-on-one assistance to students
encourage students with social difficulties or disabilities to speak up in class when they have the correct answer 
reinforce lesson plans to small groups
Language: Bilingual paraprofessionals can act as translators in the classroom, Paraprofessionals may be asked to interpret for parents during open houses or assist with parent-teacher phone conversations
Behavior: Paraprofessionals can serve as a guide to students on proper classroom behavior.
They enforce school rules, monitor the classroom, minimize distractions and disruptions
Behavior: For students with a behavior intervention plan (BIP)* paraprofessionals can provide coping strategies, encourage positive behavior, redirect off-task behavior, minimize distractions and disruptions, track and log behavior frequency
Paraprofessionals work an average of 35 hours a week.
44% of paraprofessionals say they receive too little professional development for their jobs
13% of paraprofessionals said they received no PD in the past year
Paraprofessionals can make an enormous difference in classroom efficiency and IEP* implementation. They can be a vital part of a student's educational team.

SOURCES: Education Week reporting; EdWeek Research Center; Verywell family; National Resource Center for Paraeducators, Related Service Providers, & Interveners


Special Education Webinar Reading, Dyslexia, and Equity: Best Practices for Addressing a Threefold Challenge
Learn about proven strategies for instruction and intervention that support students with dyslexia.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Leading Systemic Redesign: Strategies from the Field
Learn how your school community can work together to redesign the school system, reengineer instruction, & co-author personalized learning.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Personalized Learning Webinar
No Time to Waste: Individualized Instruction Will Drive Change
Targeted support and intervention can boost student achievement. Join us to explore tutoring’s role in accelerating the turnaround. 
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Litter Boxes in Schools: How a Disruptive and Demeaning Hoax Frustrated School Leaders
A hoax claiming that schools were providing litter boxes to students wasted school leaders' time as they worked to debunk it.
6 min read
Smartphone with blue and red colored hoax bubbles floating up off of the screen onto a dark black background with illegible lines of text also in the background.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School & District Management A New Federal Grant Will Fund Schools' Energy Upgrades. Here's What to Know
The Department of Energy released new funding to help schools redo HVAC systems, add renewable energy, and upgrade facilities.
3 min read
A small white space heater directs air under a teacher's desk. On the front of the desk is a sign that says "Welcome to our classroom."
Personal space heaters are a common item found in the classrooms at Greene County High School in Snow Hill, N.C., where they're used to heat rooms when the HVAC units fail. New federal grants will help schools upgrade climate systems and add energy efficiency measures.
Alex Boerner for Education Week
School & District Management Opinion Principals, Make Room for Teacher Collaboration
The pandemic only reinforced the importance of dedicated time for professional development and collaboration.
Megan Stanton-Anderson
4 min read
112322 opinion Principal is IN 15Stanton Anderson collaboration
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva
School & District Management 5 Stories of Inspiring Principals
For a dose of inspiration, look no further than these principals.
2 min read
Mike Huss, principal of Ione Elementary School in Ione, California, stands next to Jake, a former student who moved to North Carolina mid year.
Mike Huss, principal of Ione Elementary School in Ione, California, stands next to Jake, a former student who moved to North Carolina mid year.
Principal Mike Huss