Obstacles in pursuing teacher certification of paraprofessional employees in a Texas urban school district



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Texas A&M University


School districts across the country are faced with teacher shortages in critical need areas such as special education and bilingual education. Further complicating this shortage is the movement to augment the existing teaching force with minority teachers in order to more closely reflect the changing demographics of the student population. Many states/districts have turned to alternative routes to teaching certification as the answer to expedite the recruitment of teachers. A largely untapped resource for new teachers can be found among the talented paraprofessional employees already employed within the school districts. Paraprofessional employees working in today??s classrooms offer a wealth of classroom knowledge and experience in these potential teachers. Districts seeking to recruit these employees as potential students need information on how to support and promote the hiring of teachers representative of minority groups that reflect the demographic composition of the student population. The primary purpose of this study is to identify the obstacles faced by paraprofessionals in a large urban school district who aspire to become certified teachers by pursuing a bachelor??s degree. Using naturalistic inquiry techniques, paraprofessionals wishing to become teachers completed questionnaires and participated in individual interviews. The data were examined and categorized using qualitative techniques in order to identify recurrent and common emerging themes where community colleges and universities can work to increase their support of these students and where school districts can increase levels of supports.