Paraprofessionals, also known as paraeducators, assist classroom teachers during the day with students who need help or preparing materials for instruction. The job market for paraprofessionals is expected to grow along with the national average through the next 10 years because of the increasing number of children attending elementary and secondary schools. Although the education needed for paraprofessionals ranges from a high school diploma to an associate degree, paraprofessionals may need additional training. Several universities have training programs for paraprofessionals online.
University of Phoenix
The University of Phoenix offers many classes for paraprofessionals online. Some of the coursework at the university is geared toward preparation to take the ParaPro Assessment, a test required in some school districts, developed by the Educational Testing Service. Paraprofessionals may choose to take courses without taking the test, however. Some of the courses offered include foundations of reading and writing instruction, classroom management, and safety and legal issues. Courses last from five to six weeks.
Special Education Paraprofessional Training Programs
Many paraprofessionals work with students served through special education. Special education students may have a physical disability, an intellectual disability or other health or cognitive issues that need additional attention and services. Fontbonne University offers certification as a special education paraprofessional. Courses last between 10 and 16 weeks. Parapros can also work towards a bachelor's or master's degree along with special education certification. Stephen F. Austin State University offers courses for paraprofessionals interested in special education, as well as bachelor's degree completion courses and special education teacher certification.
ParaEducator PD Now
The Master Teacher offers online paraprofessional training on a cost-per-educator yearly basis. Over 130 courses are available for paraprofessionals to take with each lasting about an hour, although the time length varies from course to course. The courses are organized into subject areas including reading comprehension, content area knowledge, classroom management, teacher support and assistive technology. Some of the courses are training for Common Core standards as well, and many are designed to meet educational standards for Title 1 funding.
Universities With Paraprofessional Clearinghouses for Training
The University of Vermont has a Paraeducator Resource and Training Center for parapros in six different topics. The topics include special needs children, roles and responsibilities for paraeducators, and cultural sensitivity. These training modules are available at a very low cost for paraprofessionals. The University of Nebraska also has a paraeducator self-study program available at a low cost for parapros. In order to register, however, the paraprofessional must have a mentor teacher, and the school or school district must register.
- Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Teacher Assistants
- University of Phoenix: Paraeducator Courses
- Understanding Special Education: Understanding the 13 Categories of Special Education
- Fontbonne University: Teaching: Special Education Paraprofessional Pathways
- Stephen F. Austin State University: Special Education Degree Completion Program
- University of Vermont: Paraeducator Resource and Learning Center
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Project PARA Participation
- The Master Teacher: ParaEducator PD Now
- OLC Region 10: Para Educator PD Now List of Courses
- Photo Credit Szepy/iStock/Getty Images
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