Paraeducator Effectiveness Study

The Paraeducator Effectiveness Study investigated the effects of paraeducators on student achievement. We examined paraeducators who took CO-TOP training, a research-based paraeducator training curriculum, and paraeducators who had not taken CO-TOP training. The study looked at two sets of factors: 1) paraeducators’ use of certain research-based techniques, and 2) the context in which the paraeducator works, including teacher supervision. Multiple data collection methods were employed (classroom observations of paraeducators and teachers, teacher interviews, paraeducator self-report, supervisor reports). Quantitative and qualitative methods of analyses were used to address research questions associated with the following objectives:

  • Objective 1: Determine the extent that trained and non-trained paraeducators use identified research-based methods/ techniques.
  • Objective 2: Illuminate the factors that are associated with the use of research-based methods.
  • Objective 3: Examine the extent to which supervisory functions are evident in the context in which the paraeducator works.
  • Objective 4: Detect the patterns of student achievement of students served by paraeducators who have a) more/less training, b) who apply training to greater or lesser degrees, or 3) who work in contexts where supervision (feedback and coaching) are more/less evident.

Although we have much rich data regarding the work that paraeducators perform in schools and the performance of teachers with regard to supervision of paraeducators, our findings do not conclusively support a co-relational relationship between training and performance of paraeducators. Nor do our findings suggest that student achievement is correlated with paraeducator training or lack thereof. This was a first attempt at measuring such relationships and our conclusion is that the measures we developed were not sophisticated enough to detect fine differences in paraeducator performance. The results of our quantitative analysis are disappointing in one sense, but the qualitative information strongly suggests that our first efforts should be spent on teacher preparation to supervise paraeducators, administrator preparation to mentor and guide teachers in their efforts to supervise, and secondarily on training paraeducators.

For more information on this study, email Ritu Chopra.