The OPEPP Practice Continuum

The OPEPP Practice Continuum Guide is designed to share best practices related to organizational deployment of paraprofessionals to support effective use of paraprofessionals in districts and schools.

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Teaching Cases

The teaching cases presented here derive from case studies of four Ohio schools where teachers and paraprofessionals have been actively engaged in professional collaboration efforts to improve opportunities to learn for all students.

Case Study Findings: Conditions Contributing to Successful Teacher-Paraprofessional Partnerships

This document describes conditions that contributed to the successful engagement of paraprofessionals on instructional teams in four Ohio schools. These case studies examining teacher-paraprofessional partnerships reveal that successful engagement of paraprofessionals on instructional teams was influenced by four factors: the professional preparation of paraprofessional; the continuity and quality of the teacher-paraprofessional partnership; effective communication, and establishment of a climate that professionalizes the role of paraprofessionals.

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A Teaching Guide for Working Independently or with Groups of Educators

This guide may help districts and schools draw on lessons learned from the four case studies conducted of successful teacher-paraprofessional partnerships in Ohio. The guide may serve as a tool that districts or schools can use in professional learning sessions with their own teacher-paraprofessional teams to illustrate effective practices of instructional teams.

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Improving Results for All Children: Guidelines for Ohio Paraprofessionals Supporting the Education of Children with Disabilities and Learning Difficulties

This guide provides an overview of the role of paraprofessionals as instructional team members in the education of children and young adults with disabilities. Sections in this guide include information about paraprofessional history, laws and definition; roles of teachers and paraprofessionals in the instructional process; introduction to special education and definitions of “disability;” and an introduction to key content related to the following four areas of essential professional competency for paraprofessionals:

  • Area 1: Essential Instructional Practices
  • Area 2: Classroom Organization and Behavior Management
  • Area 3: Team Member and Professional Behavior
  • Area 4: Supporting Students with Low Incidence Disabilities

The guide also offers practical information and a variety of interactive activities related to how paraprofessionals can effectively differentiate key features of their responsibilities in supporting instruction from those of their teacher colleagues. Additionally, several resources are listed for further learning.

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Working with Ohio’s Paraprofessional Educators

This practice guide provides ideas about how school districts can use paraprofessionals effectively as instructional helpers. With this aim in mind, the guide considers structures, processes, and practices for building the instructional capacity of paraprofessionals and the teachers who work most directly with them. Download as PDF.

Teachers Coaching Paraprofessionals
The purpose of this guide is to share effective practices teachers can adopt or adapt in order to coach the paraprofessionals with whom they work. Download the guide: Click here.

Operating Standards

The OPEPP initiative addresses Ohio’s operating standards for school districts and schools, which establish specific expectations and guidelines enabling educators statewide to meet the needs of all students. The operating standards are in the form of 11 administrative rules and can be found in Ohio 3301-35 of the Ohio Administrative Code and 3301.07 of the Ohio Revised Code. Visit the Ohio Department of Education’s Operating Standards & Guidance site here for more information.

The OPEPP initiative also supports the Ohio Operating Standards for the Education of Children with Disabilities, which identify requirements for providing special education and related services to students with disabilities. Visit the Ohio Operating Standards for the Education of Children with Disabilities here for more information.

Council for Exceptional Children Standards

The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) develops standards, ethics and practices, and guidelines to assure that individuals with exceptionalities have well-prepared, career-oriented special educators. The CEC standards for paraprofessional preparation underscore the increased significance of paraprofessionals’ contributions to the delivery of effective instruction to all learners. Parapros serve an essential function as part of the instructional team in supporting delivery of instruction and playing an increasingly prominent role in promoting learning in all students, including those with exceptional learning needs.

To ensure that paraprofessionals have the required skills for their expanded roles, in collaboration with the National Resource Center for Paraeducators, CEC validated the specialty set for paraprofessionals who serve individual with exceptionalities. Visit the CEC site here for more information.


Giangreco, M. (2013). Teacher assistant supports in inclusive schools: Research, practices and alternatives. Australasian Journal of Special Education, 37(2), 93-106. doi:10.1017/jse.2013.1

Giangreco, M., & Suter, J. (2015). Precarious or purposeful? Proactively building inclusive special education service delivery on solid ground. Inclusion, 3(3), 112-131.

Howley, C., Howley, A., & Telfer, D. (2017). Special education paraprofessionals in district context. Mid-Western Educational Researcher, 29(2), 136-165. Retrieved from

Telfer, D., Howley, A., & Howley, C. (2017). How the other half teaches. School Administrator74(2), 42-44.