Paraeducator Career Ladder Programs
Abbate-Vaughn, J. & Paugh, P. C, (2009). The paraprofessional-to-teacher pipeline: barriers and accomplishments. Journal of Developmental Education, 33(1), 14-27.
This study examined barriers experienced by veteran school paraprofessionals attempting to complete a 4-year degree leading to public school teaching credentials. The study followed culturally and linguistically diverse, nontraditional student-participants through their 1st and 2nd years as sophomore/junior students in a large urban university. The population exhibited a variety of academic, organizational, financial, and counseling needs typical of developmental learners. With significant numbers of adult learners re-entering baccalaureate degree-granting institutions, the notion of developmental education might be applied to such students; they bring a mix of academic needs and success through resilience based in their cultural funds of knowledge.
Amos, Y.T. (2013). Becoming a teacher of color: bilingual paraprofessionals’ journey to teach. Teacher Education Quarterly, 40(3), 51-73.
As the cultural gap between students and teachers continues to present numerous problems for students of color to succeed at school, recruitment and retention of minority students have been a concern in teacher education programs (McNulty & Brown, 2009). Research shows that pre-service students of color “bring a commitment to multicultural teaching, social justice, and providing children of color with an academically challenging curriculum” (Sleeter, 2001, p. 212). Further, Ehrenberg (1995) claims that once they become teachers, minority teachers serve more effectively than White teachers as role models and mentors for minority students and thus enhance their educational performance.
Austin T. Willett, J., Gebhard, M., Montes, A.L. (2010). Challenges for Latino educators crossing symbolic, cultural, and linguistic boundaries: coming to voice in teacher preparation with competing voices. Journal of Latinos and Education, 9(4), 262-283.
This article reports on a teacher education program’s preparation of bilingual paraeducators during a period of conflicting educational reform of structured English immersion in Massachusetts. Drawing on nexus analysis of discourses (R. Scollon & S. W. Scollon, 2004), we discuss factors faced by Latino educators. These include competing discourses, historical institutional inequities, and boundaries circumscribing the interactions between university and communities. Through the use of a participant’s text as a re-semiotized means of representing the new potentials that bilingual paraeducators bring to the field of teacher education, “cultural bumps” emerge and directions for teacher education are presented.
Bernal, C., & Aragon, L. (2004). Critical factors affecting the success of paraprofessionals in the first two years of Career Ladder projects in Colorado. Remedial and Special Education, 25(4), 205-213.
This article focuses on those factors that led to paraprofessionals’ successful completion of their first year in a postsecondary setting. Specifically, this paper addresses the conceptual framework upon which these programs were developed, takes the reader through a series of steps utilized in recruitment and preparation of paraprofessionals for entry into their postsecondary experience, and discusses the strategies used in assisting paraprofessionals for successful completion of their first year of study in a college setting.
Brandick S. (2001). Paraeducator career ladders step up the teacher supply. Education Digest, 67(2), 31-34.
Focuses on the Paraeducator Career Leader, program of the Los Angeles Unified School District in California in response to a teacher shortage. Number of paraeducators as of October 2001; Characteristics that make them teacher candidates; Levels of the program; Questions that need to be answered before developing similar programs.
Burbank, M.D., Bates, A.J., & Schrum, L. (2009). Expanding Teacher Preparation Pathways for Paraprofessionals: A Recruiting Seminar Series. Teacher Education Quarterly, 36(2) Evidence-based research and diverse methods of teacher development, 199-216.
The landscape of public schools is changing. Nationally, nearly one third of school age children are cultural minorities versus only 16% of the teaching force (National Center for Education Statistics, a clinical associate 2003). Projections for the next twenty years estimate dramatic changes in national demographics with at 61% of the population increases occurring among members of the Hispanic and Asian communities.
Carrier, K. A., & Cohen, J. A. (2003). Personal and professional success in a bilingual teacher training project. NABE Journal of Research and Practice, 1, 50-69.
This article describes factors that helped students succeed in a bilingual career ladder training project. Focus group methodology was used to interview students on their experiences. Results showed that structural factors like centralized advising, caring staff, and cohort groups, as well as, ancillary factors such as an increase in self-esteem, helped students succeed.
Clewell, B. C., & Villegas, A. M. (2001). Absence unexcused: Ending teacher shortages in high-need areas: Evaluating the pathways to teaching careers program. Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute.
This is a recently completed six year evaluation of the Pathway to Teaching Careers program. This program funded by the DeWitt-Wallace Readers Digest fund trained people from three specific groups; emergency licensed substitutes, Peace Corps volunteers and paraeducators, to become teachers. They found that paraeducators were the most likely to remain in the teaching profession for more than three years and were more likely to work in urban areas upon completion of their training. Given the sometimes-desperate need for teachers in most urban school districts, this finding is a compelling argument for investing in paraeducators.
Dalla, R.L, Gupta, M.L., Lopez, W.E., Jones, V. (2006). It’s a balancing act!: Exploring school/work/family interface issues among bilingual, rural Nebraska, paraprofessional educators. Family Relations, 55, 390-402.
Nebraska’s rural school districts have a rapidly growing Spanish-speaking student body and few qualified instructors to meet their educational needs. This investigation examined factors that promote and challenge the ability of rural Nebraska paraprofessional educators to complete an online B.S. program in elementary education, with a K-12 English as a second language endorsement. Interviews focused on the interface between school, work, and family, with special attention on family system change and adaptation. Twenty-six bilingual paraprofessional educators enrolled (or formerly enrolled) in the education program were interviewed. Twenty were first- (n - 15) or second-generation (n - 5) immigrant Latino/as. Influences of program involvement on the marital and parent-child relationships are discussed, as are implications for future work with unique populations.
Dandy, E. (1998). Increasing the number of minority teachers: Tapping the paraprofessional pool. Education and Urban Society, 31(1), 89-103.
A program at Armstrong Atlantic State University designed to increase the number of minority teachers by recruiting paraprofessionals was selected to be one of the national Pathways to Teaching careers programs. The program wanted to address Georgia’s need for minority teachers by training classified school district employees, mostly paraprofessionals. Those selected had exemplary work records, better than average grades and a sincere commitment to teaching. The program provided tuition support for courses leading to a teaching certificate as long as the participants maintained a 2.5 GPA, attended all program-sponsored activities and agreed to work for the school district for at least three years after graduation. Unique features of the program included Friday replacements for participants to attend classes and program events, a GPA monitoring program, connecting the classroom with the community by having participants attend many community and cultural activities and special workshops.
Darling-Hammond, L. & Berry, B. (1999). Recruiting, preparing and retaining qualified teachers to educate all of America’s children in the 21st century. Journal of Negro Education, 68(3), 254-279.
In the coming decade, the nation must replace much of its current teachingforce. This heavy teacher recruitment period will have major implications for both educational quality and equality. Qualified teachers are not only a major determinant of student achievement but also one of the most inequitably distributed educational resources. Poor and minority children are routinely exposed to poorer quality curricula and teaching, which accountfor much of the achievement gap. Drawing on 20 years of wide-ranging research, this article describes policies and programs that can successfully recruit, prepare, retain, and support a diverse, well-qualified teaching force for all communities.
Duesbery, L. et. al. (2019). Developing and designing open border teacher education programs: case studies in online higher education. Journal of Educators Online, 16(1) p15. DOI: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1204380.pdf
Online classes in teacher education are becoming more common in higher education in the United States as universities realize that the same outcomes can be achieved without requiring preservice and in-service teachers to enter a physical classroom. This provides savings to both the student and university and fosters broader access to higher education and teacher education. In this series of case studies, we highlight both practical and innovative approaches as we analyze and discuss our experiences building and implementing online teacher education programs. We describe three new online programs on the west coast of the United States: a master’s degree in teaching in Cali-fornia, a reading endorsement program in Oregon, and a credential program in special education in Washington State. We discuss the initial program outcomes and the lessons learned to help guide teacher educators, administrators, and researchers in institutes of higher education. We culminate with five general recommendations for those considering program change or creation.
Epanchin, B.C., & Wooley-Brown, C. (1993). A university-school district collaborative project for preparing paraprofessionals to become special educators. Teacher Education and Special Education, 16(2), 110-123.
Like many paraeducators who become teachers the participants in this project were working, going to school, and balancing family responsibilities. A standard curriculum was used – based on state requirements, but packaging and delivery were altered to avoid redundancy and irrelevancy. They taught courses in blocks, at night and weekends. Faculty drove 140 miles round trip to accommodate needs of students who did not want to drive. Staffing courses was hard; faculty did not want to continue. The project also used highly skilled teachers as adjunct faculty to co-teach classes. Technology was infused into the program. They also used mentor teachers and ongoing peer support.
Ernst-Slavit G., Wenger, K.J. (2006). Teaching in the margins: the multifaceted work and struggles of bilingual paraeducators. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 37(1), 62-82
This article reports on one phase of a three-year ethnographic study of 20 bilingual paraeducators, drawing on photographic analysis and narrative inquiry. Enrolled in a credential program, paraeducators photographed “what your life is like as a bilingual paraeducator preparing to become a certified teacher.” Participants later constructed and reconstructed their perceptions during individual interviews. The analysis revealed that in spite of their in-depth knowledge of the students’ languages and cultures and their pivotal role in educating language minority students, these educators held marginal positions that were complex, multifaceted, and fragmented.
Flores, B.B., Keehn, S. & Perez, B. (2002). Critical need for bilingual education teachers: the potentiality of normalistas and paraprofessionals. Bilingual Research Journal, 26(3), 501-524.
Case study methodology was employed to explore the potentiality of normalistas and paraprofessionals as prospective bilingual education teachers. The evidence of this study suggests that both normalistas and paraprofessionals offer fertile ground for bilingual teachers. The evidence further suggests that careful selection of the potential candidates is crucial. Moreover, the teacher preparation program must creatively examine and implement a program of study that meets the needs of the target group. The findings also reveal that as the participants move through teacher preparation courses, members of both cohorts are willing to challenge old notions formerly held. The normalistas are recognizing that the U.S. system differs significantly from the Mexican educational system. While drawing on the richness and merits of the Mexican system, these immigrants are open to seeing merit in U.S. educational methods. Conversely, the paraprofessionals are beginning to question the deficit model pervasive in many of the schools in which they have worked and to take a different stance toward authority figures.
Garcia, A., Manuel, A. & Buly, M.R. (2019). A multifaceted approach to grow your own pathways. Teacher Education Quarterly, 46(1), 69+.
English learners (ELs) make up 10% of the U.S. student population and are increasingly enrolling in school districts that have little experience with educating these students. A majority of states report shortages in teachers prepared to work with ELs, particularly in the area of bilingual education. Grow Your Own (GYO) programs that recruit and prepare future educators from the community have the potential to increase the supply of bilingual educators who can provide ELs with instruction in their home languages and support their mastery of academic content. Policy makers in Washington State are taking an intentional approach toward remediating educator shortages in the state through alternative routes to certification, expanded pathways for paraeducators, and targeted course work for high school students. Alternative routes are positioned as a driver of local innovation that places emphasis on GYO approaches and the recruitment of teacher candidates from underserved populations. State grants support the development of university-school district partnerships to recruit and prepare a teacher workforce to meet localneeds. The WoodringHighline Bilingual Fellows program is a partnership aimed at preparing bilingual paraeducators to become licensed teachers in order to meet the school district’s growing need for bilingual educators. Key lessons from Washington’s myriad initiatives point to the need for collaboration between multiple stakeholders to ensure a common vision and mission for these programs.
Genzuk, M., & Baca, R. (1998). The paraeducator-to-teacher pipeline: A five-year retrospective on an innovative teacher preparation program for Latina (os). Education and Urban Society, 31(1), 73-88.
The Center for Multilingual Multicultural Research at the University of Southern California (USC) founded the Latino Teacher Project initially using funds from the Ford Foundation. The primary objective was to increase the number of Latinos entering the teaching profession. Current paraeducators were the focus of the program that provides them with financial, social and academic support during the time that they study to become bilingual teachers.
Genzuk, M. (1997). Diversifying the Teaching Force: Preparing Paraeducators as Teachers. ERIC Digest #96-2. Washington D.C: ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education and American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education.
The current demographic makeup of our student and teaching populations, as well as the projections for the future, show a striking discontinuity between teacher and student diversity (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, 1994). The nation’s nearly 500,000 paraeducators working in K-12 classrooms embody a promising source of prospective teachers who represent and may be more rooted in the communities they serve. Paraeducators are school employees whose responsibilities are either instructional in nature or who deliver other services to students. They work under the supervision of teachers or other professional personnel who have the ultimate responsibility for educational programs (Pickett, 1994). Paraeducator to teacher programs capitalize on the attributes that paraeducators bring to the program and the program streamlines their pathway into teaching. These programs foster stronger school/university collaboration, improved induction into teaching, and more graduated assumption of teaching roles as knowledge and skills are refined. Studies suggest that paraeducator to teacher program graduates bring a wealth of community and student knowledge to their practice, attributes that are highly regarded in today’s diverse classrooms (Haselkorn & Fideler, 1996).
Genzuk, M., Lavadenz, M., & Krashen, S. (1994). Para-educators: A source for remedying the shortage of teachers for limited English-proficient students. The Journal of Educational Issues for Language Minority Students, 14, 211-222.
This article makes recommendations for the design of career ladder projects designed to train for paraeducators to become teachers of language minority students. The authors point to the need for financial, academic, and personal support for paraeducators who are becoming teachers.
Gist, C. D. (2019). Grow your own programs and teachers of color: taking inventory of an emerging field. Teacher Education Quarterly, 46(1), 5+.
In 2007 Guest Editors Christine Sleeter and Yer Thao organized a Teacher Education Quarterly (TEQ) issue focused on diversifying the teacher workforce, situating the “demographic gap, not as a permanent natural condition, but rather as a social creation that has historical roots and can be changed” (p. 3). Bearing in mind the well documented and established benefits of Teachers of Color to students, schools, and the profession in general, Sleeter and Thao (2007) organized and featured programs to give concrete examples of what can be done to diversify the teacher workforce. Though most of the programs in that issue were not framed as Grow Your Own programs, many of the program initiatives evidenced innovations outside of traditional teacher education programs focused on expanding educator pipelines for Teachers of Color. They represented programmatic efforts such as paraprofessional pathways (e.g., Armstrong Atlantic State University Pathways Program or University of Illinois at Chicago Project 29 program), middle and high school to college bridge programs (e.g., Texas Tech University Project FUTURE and University of Texas at San Antonio Academy for Teacher Excellence), and clearly articulated commitments to recruit “individuals to work as educators in the communities in which they were raised and educated” (Irizarry, 2007, p. 87, Project TEACH) or establish “100% Hopi teachers for all schools on the Hopi reservation” (White, Bedonie, de Groat, Lockard & Honani, 2007, p. 73). Though not always explicitly named as such, they featured aspects and structural components of what is increasingly being referred to in the literature as Grow Your Own programs.
Gordon J.A. (1995, June). Preparation for urban teaching: Post B.A. paraprofessionals. Paper presented to the faculty of the University of Washington. Seattle, WA. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 383 652).
The author outlines a paraprofessional career ladder program designed as a partnership between the Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and Western Washington University (WWU). Based on their experiences with this program, the speaker concludes that successful program to train diverse teachers need to include; “clear requirements and responsibilities, fair an equitable treatment of students, giving particular attention to first-generation college students, especially those who have been out of school for several years, faculty who are willing and able to work with urban students, provisions for mentoring students, financial support, and flexibility of class scheduling.”
Gursky D. (2000). From para to teacher. American Teacher, 84(8), 8.
This brief article discusses the strong match there is between the need for more teachers and the large number of paraprofessionals working in the nations’ schools. While not all paraprofessionals want to become teachers, a large number of would like to enter the profession. A barrier to their entering the profession is financial resource to complete college. School district grow-your-own programs that assist with this financial burden are recommended.
Haselkorn D., & Fideler, E. (1996) Breaking the class ceiling: Paraeducator pathways to teaching. Belmont, MA: Recruiting New Teachers, Inc.
This study of paraeducator to teacher programs concludes that (1) too many children are currently being consigned to dead-end futures; (2) too many teachers who want to do better, don’t have the tools to reach them and teach them; and (3) too many paraeducators who want to do more continue to bump up against a class ceiling. A class ceiling that is denying the nation their contributions at a time when America’s teacher recruitment, development, and diversity challenges require engaging our best minds, our deepest values, our strongest commitments.
Kaplan G. R. (1977). From aide to teacher: The story of the career opportunities program. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 139 798).
This report tells the story of the Career Opportunities Program. In the 1970’s this was the first career ladder program for paraeducators in the United States.
Lau, K. F., Dandy, E. B., & Hoffman, L. (2007). The pathways program: A model for increasing the number of teachers of color. Teacher Education Quarterly, 34(4), 27-40.
The Pathways to Teaching Careers Program was a national recruitment effort started in 1989 to bring teachers of color into the teaching profession. This effort was instrumental in forging the investment of some $50 million for a series of grants that included 26 programs in 66 colleges and universities, located in 43 cities in 26 states (the Armstrong Atlantic State University Pathways Program began as a grantee in 1992). The grant was targeted to produce, recruit and prepare more than 3,000 teachers, especially minorities, who would serve more than 100,000 students annually in urban and rural public school systems. Regional technical assistance for program direction in the southern states was provided by the Southern Education Foundation, that has a 125-year record for promoting equity and equality in education. A six-year study yielded a recruitment goal of 2,593 participants and documented an 81% retention rate. The national Pathways Program targeted three groups of school personnel – teacher assistants, substitute teachers, and provisionally certified teachers – all of whom were non-certified public school employees. Programs that participated in this initiative were required to have the following essential features: a consortium structure partnering historically black colleges and universities with traditionally white institutions and school districts, a value-added philosophy that guided recruitment and enhancements to teacher preparation curricula, and a nontraditional talent pool as the target recruitment population. In this article, the authors examine the Armstrong Atlantic State University Pathways to Teaching Program. First, they describe basic features of the program itself, and provide data on its graduates. Then, they report results of a study investigating factors underlying its high rate of retention. (Contains 3 tables and 1 note.)
LeTendre M. J. (1998). Paraprofessionals: A resource for tomorrows’ teachers. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 3 (2), 107-110.
Paraprofessionals often have accumulated valuable experience in their schools and communities and have acquired many of the skills needed to work effectively with children. In addition to having substantial classroom experience, research indicates that paraprofessionals enrolled in teacher preparation programs are frequently highly motivated and engaged educators who are interested in teaching in their home communities. Furthermore, the attrition rate of paraprofessionals is low relative to that of other teacher trainees. Several state and local educational agencies have established projects that can be used as examples for others wishing to implement career ladders. Although not all of these examples involve the use of Title I funds, such funds can be used to create similar career ladder programs for Title I instructional aides.
Littleton, D.M. (2012). Preparing Professionals as Teachers for the Urban Classroom: A University/School Collaborative Model. Action in Teacher Education, 19(4), 149-158.
This article describes a successful university/public school collaborative model to increase the number of minority teachers and ultimately to increase the quality of instruction for urban children. The DeWitt Wallace-ReaderS Digest Pathways to Teaching Project at Norfolk State University recruited and trained over ZOO paraprofessionals employed by the Norfolk Public School System to return to their place of employment as certified teachers. The project’s objectives included (1) providing participants a carefully designed comprehensive teacher education program that met the state teacher certification requirements, (2) providing a focus on skills, competencies and attitudes identified for successful teaching in the urban schools and (3) providing a series of seminars and other experiences in teaching in urban schools for in-service teachers, supervisors of the teacher aides and other program participants. The context for the development and implementation of the project, the project specifics and prelimina y results and conclusions after four years of operation are discussed.
Millard S, (2010). National Clearinghouse for paraeducator resources: paraeducator pathways into teaching. Center for Multilingual, Multicultural Research, 24(1), 31-32.
Paraeducators are teachers’ assistants. For many paraeducators, this is the chance to see if they want to pursue a degree and become a professional teacher. Others decide to remain as paraeducators. For those that wish to become teachers, this may be one possible means of redressing the imbalance in education in the USA: as this site notes, less “than 13% of all current teachers are persons of colour, while over one third of their students are of colour”. This is the goal taken by Michael Genzuk in creating the National Clearinghouse for Paraeducator Resources: Paraeducator Pathways into Teaching (referred to as the Clearinghouse in this review). The Clearinghouse is committed to providing a comprehensive repository of resources that can aid in bringing talented paraeducators in to the teaching field. The Clearinghouse also provides a forum for further discussion through a listerv. This site can, and should, be considered as a basic and essential resource for all paraeducators. Unfortunately, it is not.
Morales A.R., Shroyer, G.M. (2016). Personal agency inspired by hardship: bilingual Latinas as liberatory educators. International Journal of Multicultural Education, 18(3), 1-21.
This qualitative multiple case study focused on eleven non-traditional, bilingual, Latinas within a teacher education program. The study explored various factors that influenced participants’ desire to pursue and ability to persist as pre-service teachers. The overarching theme identified among participant discourse was personal agency inspired by hardship. Findings indicated that, as a result of their cultural and experiential understandings, participants enacted culturally responsive teaching with their Latino/a students. Furthermore, participants demonstrated a strong sense of personal agency to improve the educational outcomes of culturally and linguistically diverse students and a desire to advocate specifically on behalf of English learner Latino/a students.
Morrison J., Lightner, L. (2017). Putting paraeducator’s on the path to teacher certification. Phi Delta Kappan, 98(8), 43-47
In response to local districts’ needs for certified teachers with community roots who understand local schools and students, the authors developed an innovative alternative route for paraprofessionals based on a traditional bachelor’s program. Their goals were to provide a rigorous, research-based program that allows paraprofessionals to get a university degree and, in the process, to get course credit for skills and knowledge gained on the job. This article describes both the challenges involved in developing the program and its successes.
Nittoli J. M., & Giloth, R. P. (1997). New careers revisited: paraprofessional job creation follow-income communities. Social Policy, 28, 44-61.
Reviews the state of programs today that were designed to help low-income communities increase their economic potential by employing people from their own neighborhoods and provide them training to work in human services positions in their own neighborhoods. The goal was not only to lift low income neighborhoods out of poverty by providing jobs to residents who came from the populations that they served, but to also provide additional education and training that would create career ladders into the professional ranks. Paraeducators career ladder programs are mentioned.
Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (1999). Designing state and local policies for the professional development of instructional paraeducators.
This report is a general guide to state and local education agencies that are designing policies for paraeducator development. Existing programs that demonstrate the key elements of effective paraeducator development are highlighted. Promising programs in the states of Iowa and Washington are described in some detail. Resources for possible standards and guidelines are suggested for states and local educational agencies exploring how to appropriately train their paraeducators. Information about post-secondary educational programs and the current scope of paraeducator training and employment are also presented.
Nunez, M., & Fernandez, M. R. (2006). Collaborative recruitment of diverse teachers for the long haul—TEAMS: Teacher education for the advancement of a multicultural society; innovative practices. Multicultural Education, 14(2), 14.
The recruitment of qualified teachers is an immense and demanding job, particularly for high-poverty urban schools. Urban schools often turn to the common practice of recruiting teachers who are under qualified, most of them with no teaching experience and limited training. Because of their lack of preparation, coupled with the difficult working conditions they face and the inadequate support within their schools, these beginning teachers are likely to leave the profession soon after they enter. The attrition data is challenging: 33% of beginning teachers leave within the first three years of teaching, and almost 50% leave within five years. The TEAMS (Teacher Education for the Advancement of a Multicultural Society) Teaching Fellowship Program is a collaborative model of positive recruitment that prepares diverse teachers, paraprofessionals, and counselors for service in urban, public school with the goal of increasing the academic success of all students. The TEAMS Program has implemented a unique model that provides a winning situation for all who are involved by using creative partnering to recruit, prepare, and support a confident, critical, and diverse teaching force prepared to tackle the challenges of inner-city teaching for the long haul. The program model rests on the assumption that by providing financial support to acquire a teaching credential, focusing training activities on diversity, multiculturalism, and effective teaching strategies for urban schools, developing a network of like-minded educators, and intentionally targeting communities of color for recruitment, a diverse group of capable teachers committed to a career in public school teaching will emerge. (Contains 2 notes.)
Osterling J.P. Buchanan, K. (2010). Tapping a valuable source for prospective ESOL teachers: Northern Virginia’s bilingual paraeducator career-ladder school–university partnership) (2003). Bilingual Research Journal, 27(3), 503-521.
This study describes and analyzes a teacher-education partnership between two institutions of higher education (IHEs) and three local educational agencies (LEAs) located in a large suburban area. Working collaboratively, these five organizations designed and developed a career-ladder teacher-education program that prepares experienced bilingual paraeducators currently working full time at local schools to become “highly qualified” teachers of English for Speakers of Other Languages, as defined by the No Child Left Behind Act (2002). In this paper, we examine the needs and perspectives of an IHE–LEA partnership and their dynamic relationship to address the specific instructional needs of paraeducators.
Pearl A., & Reissman, F. (1965). New careers for the poor: The nonprofessional in human service. New York: Free Press.
This book is the original plan for the New Careers Program in the 1960’s and 70’s.
Recruiting New Teachers (2000). A guide to developing paraeducator-to-teacher programs.
This comprehensive document is part of Recruiting New Teacher’s “Toolkit,” designed to help states and school districts meet their teacher recruitment and retention challenges. This guide will help you understand: The value of paraeducator-to-teacher programs, obstacles paraeducators face in becoming teachers, important elements of effective programs, what is involved in staffing and recruiting participants, and how to build support for your program.
Rintell E. M., & Pierce, M. (2002). Becoming maestra: Latina paraprofessionals as teacher candidates in bilingual education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 466 463).
This paper describes the experiences of Latina paraeducators who were recruited into a career ladder project to become teachers in Salem Massachusetts. Many of these paraeducators were immigrants from Central and South America. They became paraeducators in several ways. The two most common pathways were either parent volunteers who were hired because of their bilingual skills or teachers from other countries who became paraeducators in the U.S. while trying to figure out the system for becoming certified here. The paper discusses how they used their cultural traits to become successful in the teacher education program.
Rueda R. S. & Monzo, L. D. (2000). Apprenticeship for teaching: Professional development issues surrounding the collaborative relationship between teaches and paraeducators. Santa Cruz: University of California, Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence.
Paraeducators in this study had one of three working relationships with teachers: Paraeducator as clerical support, Paraeducators as implementer of teacher plans, or Paraeducator as apprentice teacher. This role differentiation influenced the paraeducators desire to go on to become teachers. Those whose roles were more clerical in nature had less interest in becoming teachers than those whose roles were more apprentice like.
Safarik L. (2001). Lives in transition. Utah: National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals.
This article reviews a multi-agency career ladder training program for paraeducators. The personal stories of several participants are shared.
Sandoval-Lucero, E., Maes, J. B., & Chopra, R. (2011). Examining the retention of non-traditional Latina(o) students in a career based learning community.
Learning communities are designed to increase student persistence and academic achievement and are a retention strategy to increase these outcomes for first year college students. This article examines the educational outcomes for a learning community specifically designed for non-traditional Latina(o) students enrolled in a grant funded program to become bilingual teachers. The learning community model was a grant objective. Student evaluations, retention and graduation rates were analyzed to examine the effectiveness of the learning community.
Sandoval-Lucero, E. (2006). Recruiting paraeducators into bilingual teaching roles: The importance of support, supervision, and self-efficacy. Bilingual Research Journal., 30 (1), 195-218.
This mixed methods study examined the self-efficacy beliefs of paraeducators who became bilingual teachers and paraeducators who did not to explore the possibility that self-efficacy plays a role in paraeducators’ career decisions. Data were collected through three sources: a survey, career goal statements, and interviews. Fourteen participants were included in the study. There were qualitative differences and significant quantitative differences between the two groups. Those who became bilingual teachers described work environments and duties that promoted the development of their teacher efficacy. Those who remained in the paraeducator roles described very different work environments. The study highlights the importance of clearly defining paraeducators’ roles and responsibilities in ways that utilize their skills, abilities, and interests, and promote their career development.
Sandoval-Lucero, E. & Chopra, R. V. (2010). Paraeducator career ladder cohorts as learning communities. National Teacher Education Journal, 3(2), 1-11.
Paraeducators are an excellent source of new teachers. However, many face academic, social, and financial challenges to completing college and teacher licensure. Cohort learning communities are an effective format for career ladder programs training paraeducators to become teachers. The learning community format offers a supportive learning environment where paraeducators can make connections both inside and outside the classroom that help them successfully navigate the college system to achieve their goal of graduation and teacher licensure.
Stricklin K. & Billie Tingle, B. (2016). Using online education to transition teaching assistants to teacher certification: Examining the differences between teacher education programs. American Journal of Distance Education, 30(3), 192-202.
Elementary education teacher candidates who studied under two delivery methods—online and face to face—were compared to determine if there was a significant difference in professional knowledge and skills using Praxis II test scores. The participants included 60 teaching assistant program (TAP) online candidates and 564 face-to-face candidates. The two groups’ perceptions of self-efficacy were also compared. Results indicated a significant difference in professional knowledge based on Praxis II test scores and no significant difference in perceptions of self-efficacy. Although both groups felt confident in their teaching abilities, the traditional candidates outperformed TAP candidates on Praxis II. However, in the ancillary findings of this study, 41.6% of traditional candidates were admitted to the teacher education program with a Praxis I exemption, whereas only 23.4% of TAP candidates were exempt from the requirement. This suggests that traditional candidates entered the program at a more advanced level than the TAP candidates, possibly explaining the significant difference in the finding of the Praxis II test scores.
Teacher effectiveness is key to enhancing student learning. Research has shown that the most significant factor for improving education, among all variables present, is the teacher who has the largest influence on student achievement (Darling-Hammond 2006 Darling-Hammond, L. 2006. Constructing 21st century teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education 57 (3):300–14. doi:10.1177/0022487105285962 [CrossRef], [Web of Science ®]; Good et al. 2006 Good, T. L., M. McCaslin, H. Y. Tsang, J. Zhang, C. R. Wiley, A. R. Bozack, and W. Hester. 2006. How well do 1st-year teachers teach: Does type of preparation make a difference? Journal of Teacher Education 57 (4):410–30. doi:10.1177/0022487106291566 [CrossRef], [Web of Science ®]; Grodsky and Gamoran 2003 Grodsky, E., and A. Gamoran. 2003. The relationship between professional development and professional community in American schools. School Effectiveness and School Improvement 14 (1):1–29. doi:10.1076/sesi.22.214.171.12466 [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®]).
Questions that guide retaining high-quality and highly effective teachers in today’s classroom are part of the solution to improving our educational system (Stanulis et al. 2007 Stanulis, R. V., G. Burrill, K. T. Ames, and J. O’Brien. 2007. Fitting in and learning to teach: Tensions in developing a vision for a university-based induction program for beginning teachers. Teacher Education Quarterly 34 (3):135–47.). Gendall (2001 Gendall, L. 2001. Issues in pre-service mathematics education. Paper presented at the New Zealand Association for Research in Education Conference, Christchurch, New Zealand, December 6–9.) and Lingam (2010 Lingam, G. I. 2010. Teachers equip with new skills. Solomon Star 4:12.) agreed that the professional competence of teachers depends on the quality of the teacher education program. They suggested that coursework be relevant and that it align with the responsibilities of teachers inside and outside of the classroom. Given the significance of teacher knowledge, as well as student progress, teacher education programs must continue to be a starting point for educational reform (Kleickmann et al. 2013 Kleickmann, T., D. Richter, M. Kunter, J. Elsner, M. Besser, S. Krauss, and J. Baumert. 2013. Teachers’ content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge: The role of structural differences in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education 64 (1):90–106. doi:10.1177/0022487112460398 [CrossRef], [Web of Science ®]).
Valenciana, C., Morin, J. A., & Morales, R.S. (2005). Meeting the challenge: Building university –school district partnership for a successful career ladder program for teachers of English Learners. Action in Teacher Education, 27(1), 10.
This article describes a career ladder program for paraeducators in which collaborative efforts of a university, community college, and consortium of school districts addresses the need for preparing teacher of English-language learners. Thirty paraeducators of minority background were supported through the California Paraprofessional Teacher Training Program, California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. This article focuses on (a) the program goals, (b) participant recruitment and retention, © participant cohort, and (d) program support. The program was built on the concept of a community of learners in which the participant obtained a B.A. degree and a California Multiple Subject (elementary) Bilingual Culture Language Acquisition Development/Culture Language Acquisition Development Credential. This program provided teachers from an underrepresented group to meet the need for credentialed teachers of English learners as well as to diversify the teaching force.
Valenciana, C. Weisman, E.M. & Flores, S.Y. (2006). Voices and perspectives of Latina paraeducators: the journey toward teacher certification. The Urban Review, 38(2), 81-99.
This study employed open-ended questions on a survey, a focus group interview and participant observations to document the perspectives of Latina paraeducators concerning the challenges and support systems they encountered in order to complete college and gain admission to a teacher certification program. Findings reveal that their challenges included a lack of knowledge about higher education, unresponsive institutional bureaucracies, and the need for financial aid. Family and a cohort group of peers were identified as important sources of support and motivation. As a result of the struggles they experienced these paraeducators expressed a strong commitment of helping others to pursue academic and professional goals. This work highlights the need to critique and transform fundamental inequities within institutional structures that obstruct equal educational opportunities and hinder the recruitment of bicultural teachers.
Villegas A. M., & Clewell, B. C. (1998) Increasing the number of teachers of color for urban schools, lessons from the pathways national evaluation. Education and Urban Society, 31(1), 42-61.
Data reported in this article was collected as part of a five-year evaluation of the Pathways program. The 27 sites in the paraprofessional and emergency-certified teacher strand are the focus of the article. The evaluation was both quantitative and qualitative. The study found that he components of successful programs include: Forging partnerships between the teacher education program and urban school districts; using flexible and varied criteria to select participants; providing a network of academic and social support; modifying the teacher education curriculum; securing tuition assistance.
Villegas A.M., & Clewell, B.C. (1998). Increasing teacher diversity by tapping the paraprofessional pool. Theory Into Practice, 37(2), 121-130.
Part of a special issue on preparing teachers for cultural diversity. Paraprofessionals represent a largely untapped pool from which people of color can be recruited and prepared for a teaching career. Increasing the proportion of teachers of color in public schools is necessary so that these teachers can serve as cultural brokers for the growing number of students of color and as role models for all students. In order to serve these paraprofessionals well, teacher education programs must set up partnerships with school districts to plan and implement a career ladder program, use multiple sources of information to select paraprofessionals for such a program, provide academic and social support services, modify the teacher education program, and secure tuition assistance.
Villegas, A.M. & Davis, D. E.” (2007). Approaches to diversifying the teaching force: Attending to issues of recruitment, preparation, and retention. Teacher Education Quarterly 34 (4), 137-147.
An epilogue to a special issue on diversification of the teaching force. The writers consider approaches to diversifying the teaching force. They place approaches outlined in the special issue articles in a broader discussion of recruiting, preparing, and retaining prospective teachers of color. They discuss approaches targeting enrolled undergraduate students with undeclared majors, precollege students, community college students, residents of communities of color, and bachelor degree holders. Based on the special issue articles, they draw several conclusions about diversifying the teaching force.++
Wall S., Davis, K. L., Winkler Crowley, A. L., & White, L. L. (2005). The urban paraprofessional goes to college. Remedial and Special Education 26(3), 183-190.
This article reviews an urban paraeducator training program established between three partners to help paraeducators attend college to meet the NCLB requirements. In the first two cohorts of students who began the program, they learned many important lesions about paraeducators attending college. First, that paraeducators bring many strengths including more closely matching the demographic make of their students. However, they need quite a lot of academic and personal support in order to be successful in college level classes.
White R. (2004). The recruitment of paraeducators into the special education profession: A review of progress, select evaluation outcomes, and new initiatives. Remedial and Special Education 25 (4), 214-218.
This article provides an argument for the recruitment of paraeducators into the special education teaching profession. It provides a rationale for the recruitment of paraeducators and a report on the state-of-the-art of paraeducator career ladder programs in special education.