The Supervision of Paraprofessionals in Elementary School Classrooms

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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this study was to examine and explain the quality of teacher supervision of paraprofessionals. The researcher analyzed (a) pre-service and in-service supervisory training received by teachers who supervised paraprofessionals, (b) teacher knowledge of supervisory practices, (c) teacher supervisory practices applied to supervision, (d) teacher accountability for supervision, (e) time teachers met with paraprofessionals, and (f) other personal or situational factors that influenced the quality of teacher supervision of paraprofessionals.

The methodology for the study was multiple case studies with cross-case analysis. Six administrators, six teachers in grades K-5, and six paraprofessionals from three elementary schools in districts located in Virginia were invited to participate in this study. Interview protocols were developed from information gleaned from the literature review, checked for content validity, and pilot tested before being used. Analysis was completed using the constant comparative method as outlined by Maykut and Morehouse (1994).

Preparing teachers to supervise paraprofessionals is important if the expectation is paraprofessionals are to support the educational program of students. Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, teachers are required to provide adequate supervision to paraprofessionals, yet they are not prepared to provide the supervision required. The results of this study indicated (a) teachers are not prepared to supervise paraprofessionals because they lack the training to do so, (b) teachers are not knowledgeable about what constitutes good supervisory practices, (c) teachers are not held accountable for the supervision they are expected to provide, (d) administrators do not make roles and expectations for teachers who supervise paraprofessionals clear, (e) teachers and paraprofessionals are negatively influenced by the absence of a common planning period, and (f) principals, teachers, and paraprofessionals believe positive interpersonal relationships are vital to the supervisory process.

Training is essential. If colleges, universities, and local school districts fail to train teachers regarding supervision of paraprofessionals, the quality of supervision provided by teachers who supervise paraprofessionals, and the services paraprofessionals provide to students will remain uncertain.



paraprofessional, supervision, elementary school, teacher, paraeducator