"I do as much as any teacher"- Role Conflict Among Paraeducators in Private Special Education Schools

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Year of Completion


First Advisor

Jan Hammond


It is estimated that there are 1 million paraeducators working directly with children in public and private schools in the U.S. Other titles for paraeducators include teacher aide, teaching assistant, paraprofessional, 1:1, aide, and educational assistant. Responsibilities include instructional support, personal hygiene, motor development, self-help skill development, behavior management, and clerical support. Despite this group's critical presence within schools, little research has been conducted to determine the extent that paraeducators experience job satisfaction, role conflict and role ambiguity. The purpose of this study is to gain an understanding about role conflict from 419 paraeducators working in 12 private special education schools in New York State. Data was collected using Rizzo, House and Lirtzman's Role Conflict and Ambiguity Scale, demographic questions, and an open-ended, narrative item. Multiple regression analysis determined if role ambiguity and/or demographics of age, gender, education, relevant experience, length of time in the position, plans to become a teacher, and status as a certified teacher or teaching assistant were statistically significant predictors of role conflict. Findings include five statistically significant predictor variables: role ambiguity, gender, age range of 50 years and older, experience of 5-9 years working with children who have disabilities, and seniority in one's current position. Qualitative data from 100 of the respondents yielded strong negative sentiment toward remuneration, coupled with strong expressions of commitment, concern, and deep affection for the students. The study concludes with recommendations to decrease role conflict and role ambiguity among paraeducators in private special education schools.