Where is the Pipeline? An Exploration of Interest and Barriers for Paraprofessionals in a Large, Urban School District

Ayana Bass, Cara McDermott-Fasy, PhD, Rhode Island College: Department of Education, 600 Mount Pleasant Avenue Providence, RI 02908

Within the field of special education, we face various challenges, including teacher shortages and diversifying the teacher workforce. In light of these challenges, paraprofessionals are recognized as an untapped resource. Creating a pipeline to teacher certification, especially for paraprofessionals working in urban districts, may help address these challenges.  The purpose of the study was to survey paraprofessionals in a large, northeastern urban district on their level of interest in pursuing teacher certification, and their perceived barriers, to help inform conversations about pathways to teacher certification in our state. This research study was conducted using a mixed methods approach.  An online survey was utilized, offering questions with fixed choices, open and closed-ended questions, with focus groups held in the fall of 2020. Results indicate a significant level of interest with perceived barriers such as time, money, family commitments, and Praxis testing topping the list.  Implications and directions for state level initiatives and education preparation programs (EPPs) provided. Creating a pipeline to obtain certification for professionals who work in urban districts may help address teacher shortages and diversity within the teacher workforce. The challenge of teacher shortages and diversifying the teacher workforce are large, complex, and critical issues. Such issues are only meaningfully addressed when a variety of stakeholders come together to collaborate, putting the needs and interests of educators, communities, families, and students (particularly those who are historically and currently marginalized) first.  While state departments of education and institutes of higher education are also working to address these issues, we hope that through the careful presentation and dissemination of data presented from this study…talk of the pipeline will move from rhetoric to reality. 


Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Ayana Bass

Institution: Rhode Island College

Type: Poster

Subject: Education

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 6
Date/Time: Tue 2:00pm-3:00pm
Session Number: 4511