What is the existing research evidence regarding paraeducators that may interest parents?
Only a few studies have addressed topics that relate to both paraeducators and parents (e.g. parent-paraeducator communication, paraeducator role in inclusion, paraeducators as bridges between school and parents and community, etc.). Most of these studies involve parents of students with disabilities and the paraeducators who support them. Some of the research evidence in the literature involves parents from diverse cultures who share linguistic and cultural similarities with paraeducators more often than the teachers do. The salient findings of the research are summarized below:
- Most parents of students with disabilities describe their child’s paraeducator positively and believe that successful inclusion is not possible for their children without paraeducator support.
- Parents consider paraeducators as liaisons or connectors between school and themselves /community and their children and other students.
- Parents want paraeducators to be accepted as part of the school community and to be respected and valued for their contributions to the child’s educational team.
- Paraeducators and parents often communicate on a daily basis, sometimes extensively, which many a times leads to close relationships. However close relationships between parents and paraeducators do not necessarily help; and may sometimes negatively affect the education of the child particularly when the supervising teacher is not in the loop of the parent-paraeducator communication.
- Parents need to be fully aware of the role of the teacher versus the role of the paraeducator with their child. The paraeducator supports the teacher who is the child’s primary instructor and teacher is the supervisor of the paraeducator.
- Parents are critical of paraeducators who a) fail to foster independence and make the students develop a sense of helpless and overdependence and b) interfere or create barriers in peer interactions.
- Parents of students with disabilities recommend that paraeducators who support their children must be well trained.