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Education Support Professionals are an Untapped Resource for Whole-Child Support

Alexandria, Va.—Making up a third of the public education workforce, education support professionals (ESPs) frequently step up to support and mentor students. But they typically lack sufficient recognition, training, compensation, and support for carrying out these tasks, according to a new policy update from the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE).

ESPs include an array of professions, such as paraeducators, bus drivers, office workers, custodians, and food service workers. For the many challenges schools face—staff shortages, student trauma, opportunity gaps, and students’ sense of disconnection from their schools—ESPs are an untapped resource, writes author Darren Fleischer, policy analyst for the District of Columbia State Board of Education. He argues that ESPs should be included in whole-child policies and practices and that state boards of education should champion them as partners in improving school climate.

Fleischer highlights ways states have sought to elevate and celebrate the support professions, provide better professional development, and smooth ESPs’ advancement into the teaching profession. He also urges state boards to advocate for ESPs’ participation in Individualized Education Program teams, better pay, and a voice in decision making.

“To advance equity and excellence for students and ESPs alike, state boards can take a lead role in advocacy, outreach, and research relative to this important sector,” Fleischer said.

Read and share Education Support Professionals as Partners in Improving School Climate.

NASBE serves as the only membership organization for state boards of education. A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, NASBE elevates state board members’ voices in national and state policymaking, facilitates the exchange of informed ideas, and supports members in advancing equity and excellence in public education for students of all races, genders, and circumstances. Learn more at


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