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Current Status and Future Directions for Training and Supporting Paraprofessionals in Schools

Guest Editors:  Linda A. Reddy, Adam Lekwa, & Todd Glover, Rutgers University

Paraprofessionals have become a critical instructional support resource for general and special education teachers and the students they serve. School districts are increasingly hiring paraprofessionals to support classroom teachers in meeting the complex and changing needs of students with and at risk for disabilities. There are approximately 1 million paraprofessionals serving students in U.S. schools (Carter, O’Rourke, Sisco, & Pelsue, 2009; Dulfer, 2013; Scull & Winkler, 2011) with greater numbers of paraprofessionals in schools serving students from high-poverty communities (Hampden-Thompson, Diehl, & Kinukawa, 2007). Recent reports indicate that paraprofessionals are being hired more than full-time special education teachers in 42 states in the US (U.S. Department of Education, 2009; 2017) and this trend is expected to substantially increase through 2020 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016).

Given their increasing popularity in working with classroom teachers to address students’ learning and behavioral needs, paraprofessionals are often the adult in the classroom most likely to implement and monitor the interventions suggested by school psychologists and other school specialists. School psychologists often work with classroom teachers and paraprofessionals to identify students’ academic and behavioral needs, determine antecedent and environmental factors affecting learning, select interventions and support and monitor intervention implementation across learning contexts. Given their ability to work individually with students, paraprofessionals maintain an important role in addressing the resource demands of a classroom.

Despite increases in hiring, paraprofessionals receive very limited training and inconsistent supervision to meet the needs of students at risk for or with disabilities (Brock & Carter, 2017; Giangreco, Suter & Hurley, 2013).

This special issue represents a first step in critically advancing training and support provided by school psychologists and other professionals to prepare paraprofessionals to support students at risk for or with disabilities in schools. The primary purpose of this special issue is to present the current science and practice of professional development resources for paraprofessionals serving students at risk for or with disabilities in schools.

Submission deadline is October 15, 2019.  The full manuscript should not be longer than 6,500 words, including references, tables, and figures. We ask that you submit the manuscript through the journal’s submission system https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/pits and in accordance with the guidelines reported on the journal‘s website, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/page/journal/15206807/homepage/forauthors.html

Please contact Linda A. Reddy, PhD for inquiries regarding the special issue at: LReddy@Rutgers.edu.