Becoming a Paraprofessional
Quotes from paraprofessionals in action
- “Never having worked in a school setting I was a little hesitant but was made to feel welcome and immediately and became part of the team. I quickly found that there are so many of these kids that just need some help to keep focused and stay on track. This allows them to get the most out of their education and feel like they have support in the classroom. In some cases you may be one of the only trusted adults they can come to and talk about what is going on in their lives.”
“Supporting our students and staff is positively life changing! My life is enriched daily. There is no greater sense of community than serving our students and engaging with the entire student body.”
“I recently retired from a 35 year career in banking but felt like I wasn’t quite ready to stay home everyday. Over the years I taught Sunday School for 22 years and Junior Achievement for 11 years. I have always loved working with kids so I applied for a position as a Special Education Assistant. My husband is also retired so the school schedule allows us time to travel during breaks and summers.”
How to Become a Paraprofessional- Licensing Information
Any person employed by a Wisconsin public school as a special education program aide must hold a Special Education Program Aide License issued by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) or another valid and current DPI license or permit. Special Education Program Aide licenses are valid for five years.
Note that the DPI does not license regular education classroom aides or paraprofessionals. Educators who hold a valid and current DPI license or permit may work as a special education program aide under their DPI license. The valid DPI license or permit is acceptable for state categorical aide reimbursement for districts.
Additional Resources and Professional Development Opportunities
- Frequently Asked Questions About Special Education Paraprofessionals- Information Update Bulletin 10-05.
- The Use of Paraprofessionals to Support Speech-Language Pathologists- provides additional information on the roles of paraprofessionals and speech-language pathologists when working together to support the communication needs of students with IEPs.
- Supporting Paraprofessionals to Support Students with Individualized Education Programs (IEP)s, provides a detailed overview about supporting paraprofessionals working with students with IEPs from the Association of Wisconsin School Board Administrators’ (AWSA) website.
- Supporting Paraeducators: Successful Systems & Strategies for Admins and Teachers- follow the link for program and workshop descriptions.
- Understanding the Role of Paraprofessionals in Your Child's Education in Inclusive Classrooms (TIES Center Brief #7)- discusses what paraprofessionals should be expected to do in inclusive classrooms, what qualities paraprofessionals should have, and what supports and training they need to be successful in their role or supporting students with significant cognitive disabilities in school.