Utilization of Paraprofessionals in Special Education: Challenges and Benefits

By Jeanne Dagna, Ed.D.
Immaculata University


This issue of NASET’s Working with Paraprofessionals in Your School series was written by Jeanne Dagna, Ed.D.. The paper explores the benefits and challenges of utilizing paraprofessionals as support for students in both general and special education classroom settings. Etscheidt (2005) expounded upon the concerns that, despite the wide staffing use, paraprofessionals are extremely under-trained and lack the formalized training necessary for the roles they are asked to perform. Giangreco, Suter, and Doyle (2010) contend that the unintended negative outcomes of using paraprofessionals in the classroom often out-weigh the potential benefits. Myriad legal cases discussed the ways in which the use of paraprofessionals can be legally challenged and shared the wide-range of concerns related to the use of paraprofessionals to support students in general and special education. Although articles vary regarding the levels of support and/or concern for utilizing this staffing method, most concur that if utilized carefully and reassessed often, these paraprofessional supports can prove beneficial.

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