Impact Feature Issue on Volunteerism by Persons with Developmental Disabilities

A Final Word From the Editors

This issue of Impact provides information about paraeducators and their roles, preparation, supervision and the legislation that guides such things. It is clear that the various roles of paraeducators have changed and continue to change in our dynamic educational system. As their roles evolve, so does their need for preparation and training. We hope that new legislative changes serve as a catalyst for better, more efficient, and comprehensive systems to prepare and support the paraeducator workforce.

In addition to adequate preparation and training comes the need for appropriate supervision, including meaningful job descriptions, time to plan with licensed staff, and review of job performance. We have found that when paraprofessionals receive these things, they not only feel competent in their jobs, but they feel valued as members of the instructional team. Teachers, store managers, taxi drivers, doctors, steel workers, principals, and every other person in every other job must have the tools necessary to do their jobs well. Why would we expect anything different for paraeducators?

Legislation, role clarification, preparation, and supervision are needed to ensure that paraeducators and teachers are working together to support the success of students with disabilities in our educational settings across the country.