Special Education M.A.

Year Approved


First Advisor

Strand, Charles

Second Reader

Karin Farrington;


The roles and responsibilities of paraprofessionals in special education have increased over the years. Just as special education teachers see their caseloads, paperwork, and IEP responsibilities increase, the roles and responsibilities of paraprofessionals have become heavily relied upon for creating and maintaining successful programming in special education. The author of this thesis reviewed 20 relevant articles that explored and researched the changing roles and responsibilities of paraprofessionals in special education classrooms for students with developmental and cognitive disabilities (DCD). This thesis will explore recent research in both rural and urban schools about how paraprofessionals are recruited, trained, and maintained. It will also include findings from studies in elementary and secondary settings, self-contained classrooms, program paraprofessionals, and one-on-one paraprofessionals. In this author’s research and personal experience, finding, training, and maintaining paraprofessionals who understand the needs and challenges of DCD students are proving increasingly difficult. The purpose of this thesis is to explore best practices for districts and educators to recruit, train, and maintain paraprofessionals in the DCD special education classroom. While these employees are often referred to as ‘para’s, paraeducators, or paraprofessionals,’ for the sake of consistency, this author will use the title of paraprofessional.

Degree Name

Special Education M.A.

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis