CEC Paraeducator Professional Development Standards

For more than 50 years, paraeducators have helped special educators provide important services to individuals with exceptionalities. The most recent federal data indicate that in 2011 more than 450,000 special education paraeducators were employed to serve students with disabilities ages 3 to 21 (ED, 2014, pp. 32, 63). Historically, they provided services ranging from clerical tasks to assisting with individualized functional living tasks. Today, under the guidance and supervision of special educators, they have become an essential part of the special education team in delivering individualized services and playing an increasingly prominent role in the support of instruction of individuals with exceptionalities at all ages (Giangreco, Suter, & Doyle, 2010). Many special education paraeducators (Gerlach, 2015):

  • Implement team-based assignments
  • Build and maintain effective communication and relationships
  • Maintain student-centered, supportive environments
  • Organize learning experiences for students
  • Implement lessons initiated by the teacher or related services personnel
  • Assess student needs and progress under teacher direction
  • Maintain a safe learning environment
  • Assist in the instructional process and communicating with the teacher their perceptions of student progress and needs
  • Participate in training to develop their know-ledge and skills to become more effective paraeducators

The qualified special education paraeducator performs tasks prescribed and supervised by a fully licensed special education professional. Para- educators deliver individualized services to individuals with exceptionalities in a wide variety of settings, including general education classes, community-based functional learning sites, and just about everywhere that a special education professional can be found. Paraeducators may work with an entire classroom of students or may be assigned to work one-on-one with a student with exceptionalities.

To ensure that paraeducators have the required skills for their expanded roles, CEC, in collaboration with the National Resource Center for Paraeducators, developed and validated the Specialty Set of Knowledge and Skills for Paraeducators in Special Education, the essential knowledge and skills that paraeducators serving individuals with exceptionalities should possess. CEC also validated an additional set of knowledge and skills for paraeducators interveners who serve individuals with deafblindness.

In 2015, CEC aligned the paraeducator specialty sets into the same seven standard areas as used in the initial and advanced preparation standards for special education professionals, creating the Paraeducator Common Core Guidelines (PCCG). CEC expects that agencies will ensure that all paraeducators working with individuals with exceptionalities have, at a minimum, mastered the knowledge and skills delineated in the PCCG through ongoing, effective, preservice and continuing education with professional educators and training that is specifically targeted for paraeducators.

Specialty Set: Special Education Paraeducator

Specialty Set: Special Education Paraeducator Intervener for Individuals With Deafblindness (PDBI)