An Essential but Overlooked Workforce: Elevating the Need to Investigate the Career Development of Paraeducators

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Department or Administrative Unit

Center for Teaching and Learning

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Recent research documents the positive impact that paraprofessionals have on student learning. Given these strengths, states and districts across the country have developed programs to attract and prepare paraprofessionals to become certified teachers. Despite increased interest in expanding pathways for the paraeducator workforce, research has also consistently revealed that paraeducators encounter obstacles along the career development continuum from recruitment, preparation, placement, and induction. Given the professionalization challenges paraeducators face, this special issue introduction highlights paraeducator research studies that describe innovative program design features, draw from and build on paraeducators’ funds of knowledge and community cultural wealth, and identify organizational structures in schools essential to supporting paraeducators’ development. We conclude with a recommended set of three core commitments for program designers, researchers, policy makers, or community and school district leaders dedicated to ensuring equitable paraeducator professional pathways in the educator workforce.


This article was originally published in Journal of Career Development. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Journal of Career Development


© Curators of the University of Missouri 2021