Paraeducators assist the special education classroom teachers by helping students use computers, teaching children individually or in small groups, and adapting the curriculum or the classroom to meet individual student's needs. They may also work with difficult students to help change behavior patterns. Those in 2-year associate's degree programs for this role will have courses in English, math, science and social studies. A practicum may be required for graduation. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED. Graduates may pursue credentialing through the Educational Testing Service.
Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees are available in this field. A bachelor's degree is mandatory to become a licensed teacher.
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Special Education Associate's Degree Program
Special education program students will take specialized courses subjects like child psychology or methods in adaptive fitness. Core course topics may include:
- History and trends in special education
- Methods in adaptive fitness
- Needs and natures of special needs children
- Procedures for paraeducators in special education
- Technological assistance for exceptional children
- Practicum for special education paraeducators
Paraeducators are also known as teacher assistants. Teacher assistant jobs were anticipated to increase 6% between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov). In May 2015, the average annual wage for these professionals was $26,550.
By 2010, standards for paraeducators and their training had been established in 29 states, with many of them having standards particularly for special education paraeducators. More than half of them had credentials for paraeducation, some particularly in special education. Some states use the ParaPro Assessment from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) for credentialing purposes. Information about continuing education for all states is available through the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals.
Aspiring special education paraeducators can enroll in a relevant associate's program, in which they'll take courses in areas like psychology and technology. Curriculum often includes an internship.