Balshaw M., & Farrell, P. (2002). Teacher assistants: Practical strategies for effective classroom support. London: David Fulton.
This 136-page book addresses the work of Teaching Assistants (TAs) is based on review of literature (primarily from the UK) and the authors own research in Manchester, UK. The book is divided into four main sections. Section 1 (Background to the development of the Good Practice Guide) describes: (1) recent developments in the work of teaching assistants in the UK, and (2) the origins of the “Good Practice Guide.” Section 2 (Developing a conceptual framework for improving practice) addresses: (3) defining TA responsibilities, (4) creating partnerships with teachers and others, and (5) developing assistant teams and reviewing performance and promoting development. Section 3 (Strategies drawn from experiences in schools and LEAs) includes: (6) strategies that support the development activities, (7) developing clear job descriptions, (8) working flexibly with assistants, (9) planning teamwork with teachers, (10) drawing parents, governors and others into the work of assistants, (11) creating opportunities for team development, and (12) devising induction strategies, professional development reviews and records of achievement. Section 4 (Summary: Reflections on future practice) addresses: (13) working effectively with teaching assistants. The four main sections are followed by approximately 30 pages of appendices (e.g., indicators of effective practice, workshop activities, action research plans, sample questionnaires, job descriptions).
Barrio, B. L., Hollingshead, A. (2017). Reaching out to paraprofessionals: engaging professional development aligned with universal design for learning framework in rural communities. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 36(3) 136-145).
The literature reveals that paraprofessionals are responsible for supporting students at risk of/with disabilities in a variety of academic and nonacademic tasks, yet they often lack appropriate training. Recent studies demonstrated the effectiveness of training for paraprofessionals to support students with disabilities in a meaningful way. In rural communities, such professional development and training opportunities are often unavailable despite the need. The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of a Universal Design for Learning (UDL)–based ongoing professional development model for paraprofessionals in rural general and special education classrooms. Specifically, this study sought to first examine the professional development needs among paraprofessionals in rural communities in the inland Northwest United States and second to provide effective and ongoing professional development opportunities. Findings from this study suggest that ongoing professional development models for paraprofessionals working with students with disabilities, based on needs assessments and consistent with UDL framework, have positive effects. Discussions of implications for future research and practice are included.
Bessette, K. K., Wills H.P.(2007). An example of an elementary school paraprofessional-implemented functional analysis and intervention. Behavioral Disorders, 32 (3), 192-210.
The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act mandates the performance of functional assessment for students with severe behavior problems. A functional analysis can be one part of this process but its use has been minimal. This study evaluates whether a paraprofessional could (a) be trained to correctly perform 3 conditions of a functional analysis with a student with severe behavior problems, and (b) be trained to correctly implement a function-based intervention. Procedures included an interview and descriptive assessment; training on performing a functional analysis; a functional analysis; a second descriptive assessment; and a function-based intervention. The results indicate it is possible to train a paraprofessional to accurately perform 3 conditions of a functional analysis, and then correctly implement a function-based intervention. (Contains 3 figures and 5 tables.)
Bingham, M.A., Spooner, F., & Browder, D. (2007). Training paraeducators to promote the use of augmentative and alternative communication by students with significant disabilities. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 42(3), 339-352.
The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of training paraeducators on (a) paraeducator prompting use of augmentative communication (AAC) systems, (b) paraeducator responding to student requests, © student use of AAC, and (d) student problem behavior via a series of multiple probe designs. Participants were three paraeducators and students. Paraeducators were trained on (a) importance of communication, (b) relationship between behavior and communication, © use of AAC, (d) how to prompt students to use AAC and respond to communications, and (e) how to self evaluate their behavior. All paraeducators increased the number of times they prompted student use of AAC and responded to student requests. All students increased use of AAC and exhibited fewer problem behaviors. (Contains 4 figures and 2 tables.)
Blalock G., Rivera, D., Anderson, K., & Kottler, B. (1992). A school district/university partnership in paraprofessional training. LD Forum, 17(3), 29-36.
The authors describe a paraprofessional training program that is based on a partnership between a university and a school district. Program content is described in terms of two strands, one for paraprofessionals who were new to the district, and another strand for paraprofessionals who were interested in more advanced content and skills. Logistical issues related to implementing the program were also discussed (e.g., recruiting presenters, training during school versus after school). Preliminary evaluation of the training program is based on three years of implementation data and has influenced modifications in the training program. The authors provide a frank summary of the advantages and limitations of implementing this training program.
Breton W. (2010). Special education paraprofessionals: Perceptions of preservice preparation, supervision, and ongoing developmental training. International Journal of Special Education, 25(1), 34-45.
Many studies have investigated the adequacy of the preservice preparation of special education teachers but few studies have investigated the preparation of special education paraprofessionals. This study investigated one rural state that does not have an identified system of formal pre-service training programs for special education paraprofessionals. Special education paraprofessionals in Maine were queried regarding their perceptions of (1) the adequacy of their training, (2) the effectiveness of their supervision, and (3) their current training needs in order for them to successfully meet their mandated role responsibilities to serve students with disabilities. Findings indicated that most respondents perceived that they were inadequately prepared for their duties and received minimal supervision. Findings also suggested that a very high level of consistency existed among the respondents with respect to their current most critical training needs. Findings further suggest that a major need exists for states and individual school districts (1) to develop and enforce competency based requirements for the employment of special education paraprofessionals, (2) to provide opportunities for quality professional development for these individuals, and (3) to ensure that special education teachers are adequately trained to fulfill their mandated supervisory responsibilities with respect to paraprofessionals.
Britton N. S., Collins, B. C., Ault, M. J., & Bausch, M. E. (2015). Using a constant time delay procedure to teach support personnel to use a simultaneous prompting procedure. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 1-12.
Within the context of a multiple baseline design, the researchers in this investigation used a constant time delay (CTD) procedure to teach two classroom support personnel (i.e., paraprofessional, peer tutor) to use a simultaneous prompting (SP) procedure when teaching a high school student with a moderate intellectual disability to (a) identify words from science core content, (b) identify words from social studies core content, (c) make Kool-Aid, and (d) alphabetize last names by their first letters. The classroom teacher implemented the CTD procedure with a high degree of fidelity, the paraprofessional and the peer tutor implemented the SP procedure with high levels of fidelity, and the student increased his ability to perform the targeted skills.
Brock M.E., Seaman, R.L., Downing, C. (2017). Promoting Learning for a student with a severe disability through paraprofessional training. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 42(4). 211-224.
Most paraprofessionals are not well trained to implement evidence-based practices that can improve student outcomes. In this study, we trained a paraprofessional to use evidence-based instructional practices with an elementary student with a severe disability who exhibited challenging behavior. Through functional analysis, we determined the function of the student’s problem behavior was to escape instructional demands. We used a multiple probe across behavior design to test the efficacy of video modeling and performance feedback on the paraprofessional’s implementation of three evidence-based instructional plans that incorporated high rates of positive reinforcement. Training strategies resulted in high rates of paraprofessional implementation fidelity, and paraprofessional implementation translated into improved student outcomes. These results provide an illustration of how effective paraprofessional training can promote learning for a student with severe disabilities and challenging behavior.
Brock M. E. & Carter, E. W (2013). Effects of a professional development package to prepare special education paraprofessionals to implement evidence-based practice. Journal of Special Education 49(1), 39-51.
Although paraprofessionals have become an increasingly integral part of special education services, most paraprofessionals lack training in evidence-based instructional strategies. We used a randomized contolled experimental design to examine the efficacy of a professional development training package and its individual components to equip 25 paraprofessionals to implement constant time delay. The effect of the training package on implementation fidelity was statistically significant and large in magnitude (d = 2.67; p < .001). Video modeling and coaching components were effective, although the effect of coaching alone (d = 2.23; p < .01) was larger than video modeling alone (d = .55; p = .18). Recommendations for further refining effective professional development opportunities for special education paraprofessionals are offered along with discussion of future research needs.
Brown J., & Devecchi, C. (2013). The impact of training on teaching assistants’ professional development: opportunities and future strategy. Professional Development in Education, 39(3), 369-386.
This paper draws from a study into the impact of training for teaching assistants (TAs), additional adults deployed to support children and teachers, in one urban local educational authority in England. The objectives of the study, commissioned by the local educational authority, were to identify training and professional development for TAs and to determine the impact of training on children’s achievement and TAs’ professionalism so as to inform future strategy for the content and delivery of continuing professional development for TAs. The evidence gathered through questionnaires and interviews suggests that the training is varied, localised and dependent on in-school factors. Furthermore, while training has the greatest impact on the personal sense of achievement of TAs, it seems to have little or no impact on their career progression, pay and job recognition. With regard to the impact on children’s learning, TAs and line managers are positive about the effectiveness of training; however, lack of systematic monitoring and accountability are barriers to TAs’ career progression and effective deployment. Despite the good intention of past reforms, the evidence shows that the training for TAs is still ‘a patchwork quilt of provision … about which there is continued and serious concern’ (Cajkler et al. 2006, p. 30).
Bugaj S.J. (2002). Improving the skills of special education paraprofessionals: A rural school district’s model for staff development. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 21(1), 16-24.
This article describes a rural school district’s effort to develop a staff development model for their “teacher aides” in special education classes. The developers consulted the literature and their staff as they developed the content and format for this continuous staff development model. The model provides training in the areas of: 1) basic academic instruction in behavior management; 2) Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation; 3) Instruction in lifting; and Nonviolent Crisis Intervention. The author summarized data collected from their initial needs assessment, projected program cost, and end of year questionnaire. Modification to the model’s first year of implementation are reviewed.
Butt, R & Lowe, K. (2011). Teaching assistants and class teachers: differing perceptions, role confusion and the benefits of skills-based training. International Journal of Inclusive Education.
Research has shown that teaching assistants (TAs) working in mainstream classrooms with special needs students in Australia are being required to perform quite complex tasks such as curriculum modification and differentiation yet they are not required to have any formal qualifications nor training in these tasks. In the United Kingdom, TAs are not required to have any formal qualifications, while TAs employed in the USA are required to hold a two-year post-secondary degree or have obtained an associate’s or higher degree. Initial research was undertaken in Stage 1 to identify the roles and responsibilities, skills and training needs of TAs working with special needs students in one school in Canberra, Australia. Information was obtained through separate focus group interviews conducted with class teachers and TAs. Stage 2 involved the design and implementation of five skills-based training modules developed to respond to needs identified in Stage 1. In Stage 3, interviews were conducted with the TAs to determine the effect the training had on their skills and their ability to assist both the class teachers and the students whom they support. Results from the study indicate that there exists role confusion as well as a different emphasis and perception by class teachers and TAs of the skills required to perform in the role of a TA. Results also indicated that specifically targeted skills-based training benefited the TAs and the TAs perceived that this benefit flowed through to the class teachers and the students they support.
Calzada, E.J., Caldwell, M.B., Brotman, L.M. et al. (2005). Training community members to serve as paraprofessionals in an evidence-based, prevention program for parents of preschoolers. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 14(3), 387-402.
Widespread dissemination of evidence-based programs for underserved populations may require non-traditional means of service provision. Collaboration with paraprofessionals from communities that are targeted for intervention holds promise as a delivery strategy that may make programs more accessible and acceptable, especially to parents living in low-income, urban neighborhoods. We describe a paraprofessional training program for individuals living in a community targeted for preventive intervention based on high levels of poverty and community violence. The design and implementation of the training program are described in the context of issues related to the use of paraprofessionals in community-based, preventive interventions with parents of young children. We also provide insight into lessons learned from a feasibility study as well as general guidelines for the development of paraprofessional training programs for delivery of evidence-based programs.
Carroll D. (2001, November/December). Considering paraeducator training, roles, and responsibilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 34(2), 60-64.
This article addresses ways that regular and special education teachers can provide training for paraeducators and delineates the roles and responsibilities appropriate for paraeducators. Training suggestions cover the interview, orientation, sharing information, meetings, and team skills. Paraeducator responsibilities require teaching students inclusion skills, interpersonal/social skills, daily living skills, community skills, and domestic skills. (Contains references.) (DB)
Carter, E. W., O’Rourke, L., Sisco, L., & Pelsue, D. (2009). Knowledge, responsibilities, and training needs of paraprofessionals in elementary and secondary schools. Remedial and Special Education, 30, 344-359. DOI: 10.1177/0741932508324399
The authors queried 313 paraprofessionals working in 77 elementary, middle, and high schools about (a) the contexts within which they support students with disabilities, (b) their knowledge about core competencies in educating these students, © the job-related tasks they perform most frequently, (d) their perceived ability to perform these tasks effectively, and (e) their need for further training across these knowledge and task areas. The authors found that paraprofessionals worked with a broad range of students in multiple types of classrooms within varied instructional contexts. Although most reported moderate levels of understanding across core knowledge standards, paraprofessionals articulated additional training needs in each area. In light of recent initiatives focused on increasing the quality of the special education workforce, recommendations for future research and improved practice in this area are provided. (Contains 4 tables.)
Causton-Theoharis J. N. & Malmgren, K. W. (2005). Increasing peer interactions for students with severe disabilities via paraprofessional training. Exceptional Children, 71(4), 431-444.
As students with severe disabilities are included in general education settings, the use of paraprofessionals has expanded to meet these students’ needs. Unfortunately, paraprofessionals can have the inadvertent effect of intensifying the social isolation of students with disabilities. This study investigated the effectiveness of a training program aimed at teaching four paraprofessionals to facilitate interactions between students with severe disabilities and their peers. A multiple baseline, single-subject design across four paraprofessional/student pairs was utilized. Observational data were collected over the baseline and post intervention phases. Rates of paraprofessional facilitative behavior increased following the intervention. Additionally, rates of student interaction increased immediately and dramatically and were maintained through the maintenance probe.
Clarke, K., Cautilli, J.D. (2001). What behavioral consultants and parents need to know: training paraprofessionals to work in home-based programs. The Behavior Analyst Today, 2(1), 55-57.
Often we receive calls or e-mails from parents or professionals asking for help because their child appears to be making less progress in their home program. Often they mention problems such as the child is mastering few tasks or is having less success with verbal skill learning. It is important to recognize that this may occur for many reasons. Sometimes the behavioral consultant is inexperienced in coordinating a home programs and does not have the necessary skills to adjust protocols when progress is not occurring. Other times the child has mastered the programs and is ready for a new level of programming. A host of these factors exist and little data is available to determine what to do at these points. However, in some cases parents believe that it is the result of paraprofessionals losing interest in the program. In these situations, parents often report that less work is being done or the staff is not working as hard as they did previously. This paper has been written to address this last issue.
Cobb C.(2007). Training paraprofessionals to effectively work with all students. The Reading Teacher, 60 (7), 686-689.
Administrators (n=235) of programs for children with communication disorders in 11 Midwestern states were surveyed to assess trends in the training and utilization of paraprofessionals. Topics included current trends in employment; paraprofessional training; use of professional and state guidelines; and district policies for supervision. (Author/DB)
Cremin H., Thomas, G., & Vincett, K. (2003). Learning zones: An evaluation of three models for improving learning through teacher/teaching assistant teamwork. Support for Learning, 18(4), 154-164.
This study, conducted in the UK, explored the use of three different models for utilizing teaching assistants in general education classrooms. These three models, all designed to enhance role clarification and communication, included:
- _Room Management (taking on different roles such as “Individual Helper,”
- “Activity Manager,” and “Mover”)_ _Zoning (where there is more than one
- adult involved in teaching and organizing the class)_ Reflective Teamwork.
Six classes from six different schools participated. Two classes (Grades 2 and 3), implemented each of the three models during an hour literacy period, once per week for a six weeks. Pre-intervention data was collected by videotaping the literacy sessions prior to use of the models and coding the level of academic data for each child in each classroom using a 10 minute sample per student and a 10 second coding interval. The same procedure was used at the end of the six-week period. Qualitative data, in form of interviews and focus groups with teachers and assistants were also conducted. Teachers were also asked to maintain documentary records to show how the interventions were implemented (e.g., planning sheets for the literacy hour).
Davis, R.W., Kotecki, J.E., & Harvey, M.W. (2007). Responsibilities and training needs of paraprofessionals in physical education. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, 24(1), 70-83.
This study describes responsibilities and training needs of paraeducators in physical education. Paraeducators (n =138) employed in 34 Midwestern schools received a 27-item questionnaire. Of the 138 paraeducators contacted, 76 responded, resulting in a 55.1% response rate. Only 16% of the total respondents (n = 76) reported receiving specific training in physical education; however, 68 (90%) indicated a willingness to be trained. Less than half (n = 29, 38%) indicated participating in physical education by escorting students, providing cues, and working individually with students. Fewer than eight (28%) of the physical education paraeducators assisted with assessments, shared IEP suggestions, or helped implement behavior modification programs. The most desired training areas included activity modifications, attributes of students with disabilities, and knowledge of motor development.
DaFonte M. A., & Capizzi, A. M. (2015). A module-based approach: Training paraeducators on evidence-based approaches. Physical Disabilities: Education & Related Services, 34(1), 31-54.
Paraeducators are on the front lines in special education settings, providing support to teachers and students with significant disabilities and specific health-care needs. The important role they play demands efficient and cost-effective training in core skills. This study utilized a multiple-baseline across behaviors design to evaluate a module-based training program for paraeducators targeting three instructional strategies that are commonly used in the education of students with a wide range of disabilities: praise, pause, and prompts. Results demonstrated variability in accurate and consistent use of these practices across participants after completion of the modules. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.
Deardorff, P., Glasenapp, G., Schalock. M., & Udell, T. (2007). TAPS: An innovative professional development program for paraeducators in early childhood special education. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 26(3), 3-15.
This article describes an innovative professional development program for paraeducators working with children with disabilities in early childhood special education settings. The model includes four components: (a) assessment of learning needs, (b) the formation of an individualized professional development plan, (c) participation in self-directed training using the TAPS curriculum materials, and (d) feedback and support by supervisors. The model was implemented with three cohorts of participants in Early Childhood Special Education programs serving rural and suburban communities in Oregon. Positive outcomes were found for all paraeducators, regardless of experience or education level. Implications for alternative potentially cost-effective rural professional development programs for paraeducators are discussed.
Devlin, P. (2005). Effect of continuous improvement training on student interaction and engagement. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 30(2), 47-59.
This article describes a preliminary study investigating whether a specific awareness and training for six teacher-paraprofessional teams would have an effect on the inclusion of six students with mild to severe disabilities in elementary general education environments. An experimental design employing a pretest-posttest control group with matched subjects was used to evaluate the effectiveness of training that emphasized the continuous improvement components of teamwork, goal setting, and data collection. Data focusing on student interaction and engagement were collected using MS-CISSAR. Results indicated an increase in teacher interaction and a decrease in paraprofessional interaction with special education students after the training component. Engaged behavior was not found to change noticeably for this group of students. Individual student strategies and benefits are also reported. The article includes a discussion of training format, key elements, and their relationship to long-term systems change. (Contains 6 tables.)
Douglas S.N., Uitto, D.J., Reinfelds, C.L., D’Agostino. S. (2018). A systematic review of paraprofessional training materials. Journal of Special Education. First published June 1, 2018.
Paraprofessional training is essential for high quality special education services. Yet, educators may struggle to select appropriate materials for paraprofessional training. A review was conducted of 26 paraprofessional training materials using a rubric designed to evaluate the alignment with federal legislation and professional standards, and use of research-based adult learning methods. Results indicate many training materials aligned with federal legislation, but varied in their content focus, alignment with paraprofessional standards, and use of adult learning methods. Based on results of the review, three paraprofessional training materials reflected high quality training. Features of paraprofessional training materials, recommendations for practice, suggested improvements to training materials, limitations, and future research directions are discussed.
Douglas S.N., McNaughton, D. & Light, J. (2013). Online training of paraeducators to support the communication of young children. Journal of Early Intervention, 35(1), 223-242.
Paraeducators are frequent sources of support for young children with disabilities in early childhood settings. However, they typically have limited training in providing communication opportunities for children with complex communication needs (CCN). The impact was investigated of providing training in a communication interaction strategy to three paraeducators working with young children with diagnoses of autism and developmental delay. The training included interactive online components as well as opportunities to use and ask questions about the strategy, and reflection on strategy use. After participating in the training activities, the paraeducators were observed to provide a greater number of appropriate communication opportunities during play interactions with the young children. The children with CCN also showed increases in the number of communication acts performed. In addition, paraeducator responses (including comments on child behaviors) increased. Results of social validity and generalization measures are reported. Limitations of the study are also discussed.
Elrod G. F., Insko, L., & Williams, L. (1993). A descriptive study of instructional assistants in rural and remote eastern Oregon: Implications for professional development. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 12 (4), 22-30.
A survey of 14 special education instructional assistants in rural Oregon showed they were generally mature in age and had lived in eastern Oregon for many years. Over half had some college training. Most were assigned to elementary resource rooms. Respondents rated “instructional methodology” as their strongest training preference. (KS)
Feehan P. F. & Wade, S. L. (1998). The paraprofessional alternative. Journal of Career Development, 25(2), 149-157.
Limited resources and demand for expanded services led to the use of paraprofessional staff at the University of Missouri Career Center. Based on a peer helping model, the center uses college students as peer counselors, with appropriate selection, training, and supervision. (SK)
Forster, E.M., & Holbrook, M. C. (2005). Implications of paraprofessional supports for students with visual impairments. Re:View: Rehabilitation and Education for Blindness and Visual Impairment, 36(4), 155-163.
The implementation of high quality and carefully individualized educational programs carried out by qualified professionals has been shown to largely mitigate the impact of visual impairment on development. Research has also shown that, in the absence of high quality, specialized intervention, children who are blind or have visual impairments may be at an increased risk for literacy problems and that these difficulties may have an adverse impact on their educational career and employment potential. In fact, estimates of under- or unemployment among adults with visual impairments have been reported at approximately 70% or higher, and these employment statistics have been connected to the individual’s previous access to early and frequent quality literacy instruction. This article discusses the role of paraprofessional supports for students with visual impairments, and includes the following sections: (1) Reasons for Using Paraprofessional Supports; (2) The Role of the Paraprofessional; (3) Effectiveness of Paraprofessionals; and (4) Paraprofessional Training.
French N.K., & Cabell, E.A (1993). Are community college programs for paraeducators feasible? Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 17(2), 131-140.
Examines the feasibility of developing training programs in the Colorado community college system for paraeducators (i.e., technicians who provide personal care, instructional services and behavior management to students with disabilities and remedial needs) based on a survey of directors of special education, teachers, and personnel directors. Suggests characteristics of such programs. (DMM).
Ghere G., York-Barr, J., & Sommerness, J. (2002). Supporting students with disabilities in inclusive schools: A curriculum for job-embedded paraprofessional development. Minneapolis: Institute on Community Education ( University of Minnesota).
This facilitator’s manual is part of a curriculum to help special educators teach paraprofessionals to support individual students with disabilities effectively, especially students with moderate to severe disabilities who require individualized support. Special aspects of the curriculum include its site-based and job embedded approach as well as the incorporation of follow-up coaching and feedback. Introductory material provides a curriculum overview and answers to questions about the curriculum. The curriculum is comprised of four instructional parts with a total of seven instructional units that address: (1) what inclusive education means; (2) what to teach (ways to maximize learning opportunities for students); (3) how to instruct (prompting, waiting, fading); (4) how to instruct (use of natural cues, consequences, and supports); (5) how to instruct (individualized adaptations); (6) how to interact (behavior as communication); and (7) how to interact (student relationships). Each of the seven units includes a unit guide, directions for facilitation, and handouts suitable for reproduction. (Contains 13 references.) (DB)
Giangreco M.F., Backus, L., Cichoski, Kelly, E., Sherman, P., & Mavropoulos, Y. (2003). Paraeducator training materials to facilitate inclusive education: Initial field-test data. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 22(1), 17-27.
This study presents initial field-test evaluation feedback on training materials designed to help prepare paraeducators to assist in the provision of special education in inclusive schools. Feedback was collected from 213 paraeducators who participated in the course, Paraeducator Entry- Level Training for Supporting Students with Disabilities, 105 who participated in the course, Supporting Students with Challenging Behaviors: A Paraeducator Curriculum, and the 23 instructors who taught a combined total of 20 sections of these courses in a variety of formats (e.g., face-to-face, interactive TV, intensive summer institute). Findings indicated that paraeducators gained new knowledge, perspectives, and skills that had direct application in their work. Both paraeducators and course instructors rated the materials favorably and provided feedback to improve them. Implications are offered for infusing paraeducator content into school-based staff development as well as training programs for prospective special and general education teachers.
Giangreco M.F., & Broer, S.M. (March/April 2003). The paraprofessional conundrum: Why we need alternative support strategies. TASH Connections Newsletter, 29 (3/4), 22-23.
Glang A., Gersten, R., Singer, G. (1990). Computer-assisted video instruction in training paraprofessionals to teach brain-damaged clients. Journal of Special Education Technology, 10(3), 137-46.
This study evaluated the effects of computer-assisted video instruction (CAVI) on three paraprofessionals’ implementation of the firming strategy (which presents new material in alternation with previously learned material) with three severely brain-damaged young men. Results indicated CAVI effectiveness with proficient strategy implementation, positive paraprofessional attitudes, and significant client behavior changes. (DB)
Graves, S. (2013). New roles, old stereotypes – developing a school workforce in English schools. School Leadership and Management, 34(3), 255-268.
In this paper, the author explores the development of school staff who are employed to support pupils in the classroom, specifically the teaching assistant/higher level teaching assistant role. These roles have undergone considerable change following the introduction of Workforce Reform and Remodelling in English schools and the National Agreement. In practice, the introduction of this agreement into schools appears to have a powerful gendered aspect which limits choice and agency for individuals and prevents the development of a coherent workforce. I argue that the discourse of maternality within which the school support role has evolved supposes a level of self-sacrifice and conscientiousness which is gendered and conceals the exploitative nature of the role in terms of poor pay and career prospects. Furthermore, the growth of support staff in English schools to undertake roles previously assigned to teachers has had the effect of disaggregating and de-professionalising the teacher role and weakening the traditional job boundaries which defined the work of support staff.
Hall, L.J., Grundon, G.S., Pope, C., Romero, A.B. (2010) Training paraprofessionals to use behavioral strategies when educating learners with autism spectrum disorders across environments. Behavioral Interventions, 25(1), 37-51.
Although the use of paraprofessionals in the education of young children with autism spectrum disorders(ASD) is a common practice, research on effective training procedures is scarce. The following study used a multiple-baseline design across settings replicated by ﬁve paraprofessionals to evaluate their use of behavioral strategies with young children with, or at risk for, autism spectrum disorder. A training package consisting of a workshop and performance feedback by their supervising special education teacher served as the intervention. Results revealed that even though the paraprofessionals demonstratedskills in the use of behavioral strategies at the workshop, there was either no transfer or generalization tothe preschool or home environments where they worked, or their use of skills decreased over time. When performance feedback was provided to all participants, their correct use of strategies increased. The training model evaluated in this study provides an example of one that could be employed in a typical public school classroom or early intervention program. Copyright # 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Hall L. J., McClannahan, L. E., & Krantz, P. J. (1995). Promoting independence in integrated classrooms by teaching aides to use activity schedules and decreased prompts. Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, 30, 208-217.
This study aimed to increase the independent engagement of integrated elementary students with disabilities, by decreasing prompts from aides and using pictorial activity schedules to diminish dependence on adult support. A nonconcurrent multiple-baseline design, replicated across three aide-child pairs, revealed that the intervention resulted in prompt reduction by the integration aides. (Author/DB)
Hammeken P.A. (1996). Inclusion: An essential guide for the paraprofessional. Minnetonka, MN: Peytral Publications.
This manual is designed to be a practical reference tool for paraprofessionals and teachers working in inclusionary settings. It provides an overview of the special education system, basic guidelines to support students in inclusionary settings, and lists a variety of strategies and ideas to implement in the classroom setting. The first chapter reviews myths and realties associated with inclusionary practices and the benefits of inclusion. Other chapter content includes: chapter two, the special education department; chapter three, getting started: the paraprofessional’s role; chapter four, the paraprofessional and the special education teacher; chapter five, modification categories; and chapter six, modification strategies. The appendix includes seventeen reproducible forms to assist with various aspects of inclusive schooling.
Hansen D. (1997). Use of focus-group needs assessment for planning paraprofessional staff development in Iowa’s education settings. Journal of Children’s Communication Development, 18(1), 81-90.
Describes how focus groups comprised of speech-language professionals, paraprofessionals, general and special education teachers, and parents in Iowa were used to conduct a needs assessment of issues in staff development and use of paraprofessional personnel and to design job-relevant personnel development programs. An attached chart lists themes emerging from the groups. (DB).
Harper V. (1994). Multicultural perspectives in the classroom: Professional preparation for educational paraprofessionals. Action in Teacher Education, XVI (3), 66-78.
Paraprofessionals often represent the closest linking of language and culture between communities and schools, taking the lead in teaching second-language learners. Their lack of professional education can create situations where the neediest children are served by the least prepared adults. The article suggests a professional career ladder for paraprofessionals. (SM)
Higgins, H. & Gulliford, A. (2014). Understanding teaching assistant self efficacy in role and in training: its susceptibility to influence. Educational Psychology in Practice: Theory, Research and Practice in Educational Psychology, 30(2), 120-138.
There has been a noted growth in the number of teaching assistants (TAs) in mainstream schools. Research is inconclusive about their efficacy at changing outcomes for children and has proposed more training for TAs. Generic training models have suggested that enhancing self-efficacy in turn improves performance. This exploratory study investigated factors that may influence TAs’ sense of self-efficacy and its susceptibility to influence in training. Following two modes of school-based training by educational psychologists (EPs) data were collected from 14 mainstream secondary school TAs using focus groups. A thematic analysis noted themes regarding self-efficacy, aligned with Bandura’s sources of information, outcome expectations and whole school support and norms. Review of the data from this study is likely to be able to guide potential trainers to coach-consult strategies which are self-efficacy supportive and which address contextual factors including the perceived status of TAs in schools.
Hilton A., & Gerlach, K. (1997). Employment, preparation and management of paraeducators: Challenges to appropriate services for students with developmental disabilities. Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, 32, 71-77.
Presents a position statement of the Board of Directors of the Division on Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities that reviews the employment, preparation, and management of paraeducators. The statement addresses role definition, employment and management, legal and ethical responsibilities, job descriptions, paraeducator training, and supervisory training. (CR)
Jolly, A. & Evans, S. (2005). Teacher assistants move to the front of the class: Job-embedded learning pays off in student achievement. Journal of Staff Development, 26(3), 8-13.
Job-embedded professional learning is a familiar concept in the Edenton-Chowan Public School System. In this article, the authors present D.F. Walker Elementary School in Edenton, North Carolina, a school where the entire staff focuses on continual learning, and teacher assistants engage in job-embedded, ongoing professional development to become effective instructional assistants for the teachers and students they serve. In addition, the authors state that it is not the law which drives behind the principal’s decision to include teacher assistants in learning teams, but it is to raise teacher assistants’ level of expertise in the area of literacy.
Keller, C.L., Bucholz, J., & Brady, M.P. (2007). Yes, I can! Empowering paraprofessionals to teach learning strategies. Teaching Exceptional Children, 39(3), 18-23.
Paraprofessionals are an important part of the instructional team for students with disabilities. As recently as 10 to 20 years ago, a paraprofessional was often “just an aide.” The primary job duties for most paraprofessionals included making copies, monitoring students during lunch, and taking attendance. The Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004), emphasizes the importance of learner centered instruction to meet the needs of children with diverse abilities and learning styles. As a result of this act, the roles and responsibilities of paraprofessionals began to change. Although paraprofessionals still perform routine housekeeping and clerical tasks, they also review and reinforce lessons.
Kim S. Koegel, R.L., Koegel, L.K. (2016). Training paraprofessionals to target socialization in students with ASD - Fidelity of Implementation and Social Validity. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 19(2), 102-114.
Although the literature suggests that it is feasible to train paraprofessionals to effectively implement social interventions for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), there is a paucity of research that addresses the social validity of these programs. The present study replicated and extended previous research on paraprofessional training, as well as assessed social validity. Our results suggest that (a) paraprofessionals can be trained to fidelity using a package consisting of lecture and performance feedback, (b) there are collateral gains for paraprofessionals following the training, (c) the social interactions between students with ASD and typically developing peers improve following paraprofessional training, and (d) there is strong social validity in regard to acceptability of the training program. Limitations and future directions are discussed.
Koegel, R. L., Kim, S., & Koegel, L. K. (2014). Training paraprofessionals to improve socialization in children with ASD. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44(9), 2197-2208.
An important line of research relates to whether school personnel, such as paraprofessionals, who are present during unstructured social periods, such as lunch-recess, could successfully implement interventions to improve socialization between students with ASD and their typical peers in a group setting. Therefore, within the context of a multiple baseline across participants design, we assessed whether training paraprofessionals to provide social interventions would enhance social development in students with ASD in a group setting. Results showed that paraprofessionals who were not providing any social opportunities during baseline were able to meet fidelity of implementation following a brief training. Consequently, the children with ASD increased their levels of engagement and rates of initiation with typically developing peers following intervention. Implications for training paraprofessionals to implement effective social interventions for students with ASD are discussed.
Lasater M. W., Johnson, M. M., & Fitzgerald, M. (2000). Completing the education mosaic: Paraeducator professional development options. Teaching Exceptional Children, 33(1), 46-51.
As part of a summer institute, partner teachers and paraeducators join a facilitator in a group totaling 25 to spend time together as a study group. Participants have read research from book chapters and journal articles. Now, the facilitator uses an agreed-on structure for this full-day session to help participants examine, inteφret, and apply the information studied to their particular environments and students.
Leblanc, M.P., Ricciardi, J.N., & Luiselli, J.K. (2005). Improving discrete trial instruction by paraprofessional staff through an abbreviated performance feedback intervention. Education & Treatment of Children, 28(1), 76-82.
We evaluated an abbreviated performance feedback intervention as a training strategy to improve discrete trial instruction of children with autism by three paraprofessional staff (assistant teachers) at a specialized day school. Feedback focused on 10 discrete trial instructional skills demonstrated by the staff during teaching sessions. Following sessions, staff received verbal praise from a trainer for skills displayed correctly, and clarification/redirection was given contingent on incorrect performance. As demonstrated in a multiple baseline design, staff rapidly acquired the discrete trial instructional skills with intervention. Improved instruction was maintained up to 11 weeks post-training, and procedures were judged highly acceptable by staff. The benefits of performance feedback, and issues related to staff training, are discussed.
Lieberman L.J. & Conroy, P. (2013). Training of paraeducators for physical education for children with visual impairments. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 107(1), 17-28.
Introduction: Children with visual impairments are often behind their peers in physical and motor skills. It is often necessary for these children to work one to one with a paraeducator to gain the benefits of physical education, improve physical activity and motor skills, and attain the basic standards of the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC). Paraeducators are trained to work in classrooms, yet are rarely, if ever, trained in the subject of physical education. The purpose of the study presented here was to determine current training practices for paraeducators in the classroom and what is needed to ensure proper training for physical education for paraeducators who work with children with visual impairments. Methods: In the study, 143 professionals and parents were given a validated questionnaire related to the training needs of paraeducators for physical education. Results: The results indicated that although the majority of children with visual impairments attended physical education classes with their paraeducators, only 11% of the paraeducators were trained in physical education. The participants thought that the training should consist of safety practices, guiding techniques, teaching strategies, information on visual impairments, and most areas of the ECC. They thought that this information should be delivered in the form of a video or guest speakers and that the children with visual impairments should be included when possible. Discussion: Because of the large and varied sample in the study, the information gained could be used to create a training video for paraeducators who work with children with visual impairments in physical education. Implications for practitioners: The results of the study highlight areas that should be included as the foundation of training paraeducators for physical education.
Maggin D.M., Fallon, L.M., Hagermoser-Sanetti, L.M. & Ruberto, L.M. (2012) Training paraeducators to implement a group contingency protocol: direct and collateral effects. Behavioral Disorders, 38(1), 18-37.
The present study investigated the effects of an intensive training protocol on levels of paraeducator fidelity to a group contingency intervention used to manage the classroom behavior of students with EBD. A multiple baseline design across classrooms was used to determine whether the training was associated with initial and sustained increases in treatment fidelity. Data were also collected on the effects of paraeducator use of the group contingency program on rates of paraeducator, teacher, and student behavior. Results indicated that the training package was associated with immediate increases in paraeducator fidelity, which were subsequently sustained following the removal of systematic performance feedback on paraeducator adherence to the protocol. The implementation of the group contingency program by paraeducators also led to increases in the rates of interactions between paraeducators and students, increases in the rates of teacher instruction, and decreases in the rates of aggressive behavior by students. Findings of the study are discussed within the context of developing effective training methods for paraeducators working alongside students with EBD.
Malmgren K.W., Causton-Theoharis, J.N., & Trezek, B.J. (2005). Increasing peer interactions for students with behavioral disorders via paraprofessional training. Behavioral Disorders, 31(1), 95-106.
As more and more students with behavioral disorders (BD) are included in general education classrooms, the use of paraprofessionals in one-on-one support roles has expanded. Unfortunately, the use of paraprofessionals to provide one-on-one assistance can result in social isolation for students with disabilities. This multiple-baseline single-subject study examined the effectiveness of a paraprofessional training program designed to teach paraprofessionals to facilitate interactions between elementary-age students with BD and their peers in the general education classroom. Baseline and postintervention observational data reflecting: (1) the proximity of the paraprofessionals in relation to the students with BD; (2) the amount and type of facilitative behaviors displayed by the paraprofessionals; and (3) the rate of peer interactions experienced by the participating students with BD were collected for three paraprofessional/student pairs over a 7-week period. Rates of student interaction increased following the intervention. Rates of paraprofessional facilitative behavior also increased, though less markedly. Additionally, after the training intervention, all participating paraprofessionals faded their assistance more frequently and spent less time in the immediate vicinity of the students they served. Recommendations for use of paraprofessionals in the classroom and for paraprofessional training are discussed. (Contains 1 table and 1 figure.)
Mann S. & Whitworth, J. (2017). Responsibilities and training of paraprofessionals in alternative schools: implications for practice. Journal of At-Risk Issues, 20(2), 25-34.
Abstract: For many years a leading approach to teaching at-risk students and reducing school dropout has been the use of alternative schools. There are unique challenges to providing educational services in alternative schools and teachers in those schools need specialized knowledge and skills to address these challenges. The same can be inferred for paraprofessionals working in alternative schools. In general, the use of paraprofessional support for students in alternative schools has increased over the years. Oftentimes these students exhibit academic and behavioral challenges, and yet much of the research indicates that paraprofessionals working with students with academic and behavioral challenges have little training to do so. The purpose of this study was to examine the roles, responsibilities, and professional development needs of paraprofessionals working with secondary students at alternative schools as perceived by administrators, teachers, and paraprofessionals in those schools.
Martella R.C., Marchand-Martella, N.E., Macfarlane, C.A., & Young, K.R. (1993). Improving classroom behavior of a student with severe disabilities via paraprofessional training. British Columbia Journal of Special Education, 17, 33-44.
Systematic training of a paraprofessional in effective instructional procedures with a student with severe mental retardation and aberrant behaviors resulted in improved skills and fewer negative statements by the paraprofessional and decreased aberrant behaviors and increased compliance by the student. Follow-up at 55 weeks indicated maintenance of improved skills and student behaviors. (Author/DB)
Martin T. & Alborz, A. (2014). Supporting the education of pupils with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities: The views of teaching assistants regarding their own learning and development needs. British Journal of Special Education, 41(3), 309-327.
Learning support assistants or teaching assistants play a vital role in the education of pupils with complex learning disabilities, routinely supporting students on a 1:1 basis without the direct supervision of teachers. Despite the responsibility afforded these classroom support staff, there appear to be few training programs designed for this specialized role. This qualitative study, by Trudi Martin of the Manchester Institute of Education, was undertaken at a special school in England. The study explored the views of 17 teaching assistants and five teachers regarding the extent to which teaching assistant training equipped them to support pupils with complex learning needs. The findings illustrated that much of the training, including that on the Qualifications and Credit Framework, provided inadequate information and guidance. Without sufficient knowledge to underpin their practice, teaching assistants are impeded in the educational support they can give to pupils, who face significant learning challenges, with a resultant impact on their students’ ability to learn and develop new skills.
McConkey R. & Abbott, L. (2011). Meeting the professional needs of learning support assistants for pupils with complex needs. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 15, 1419-1424.
Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) in mainstream and special schools are increasingly required to assist teachers with pupils who have complex special needs. This study examined through a questionnaire the perceptions of LSAs (N=154) working in a range of schools as to their training needs and, through interviews, sought the views of the senior school staff and nurses (N=6) on how best pupils with complex needs can be assisted by LSAs. A process model is proposed to enable LSAs to fully support inclusion on schools and to tread a clear pathway towards their professional development.
McCulloch E. B., & Noonan, M.L. (2013). Impact of online training videos on the implementation of and training by three elementary school paraprofessionals, Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 48(1), 1-15. daddcec.org
With the number of students with autism and related developmental disabilities increasing and a lack of trained professionals, solutions are needed to provide training on a large scale. Alternative training approaches need to be developed so that paraprofessionals can access training in an efficient and effective way. One such possibility is online training. A multiple baseline design across participants was used to evaluate the impact of online training videos (OTV) on the implementation of mand training with three paraprofessionals in a public school setting. The three paraprofessionals were of Hawaiian ancestry, ages 32, 34, and 42 years. Three elementary aged students with autism and developmental disabilities also participated in the study. They were ages, 6, 8, and 10 years, and also of Hawaiian ancestry. All participants lived in a rural area of Hawaii. After the OTVs, the percentage of correct implementation of mand training increased for all paraprofessional participants and maintained over time. Improvements in accurate teaching were also accompanied by increases in the rate of spontaneous manding by the students. Results support the use of online training as an effective alternative to inservice training for paraprofessionals.
McKenzie A.R. & Lewis, S. (2008). The role and training of paraprofessionals who work with students who are visually impaired. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 102(8), 459-471.
Abstract: This survey of teachers of students with visual impairments and paraprofessionals who work with students with visual impairments found that more than 35% of the paraprofessionals were providing direct instruction in skills in the expanded core curriculum. Thus, the roles of these two groups need to be clarified.
McKenzie B. (2011). Empowering Paraprofessionals through Professional Development. Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 77(4), 38-41. Retrieved from Delta Kappa Gamma Society International.
Paraprofessionals in special education settings serve an important role in the education of students with disabilities, but they very often do not receive the same level of professional development given to other service providers. Ongoing professional development is a critical component in retaining paraprofessionals. An urban school district in Colorado implemented a paraprofessional development program that produced three significant outcomes. First, retention of special education paraprofessionals increased. Second, several special education paraprofessionals chose to enter a teacher education program to secure their teaching license in special education. Third, collaboration among IEP team members increased. Professional development topics included Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act 2004, individual learner characteristics, instructional strategies, behavior management, Response to Intervention, and case law.
McLachlan B. (2015). Helping or hindering: Understanding the professional development needs of learning support assistants in post-compulsory education in England. World Journal of Educational Research, 2(2), 99-116.
This paper reports findings from a research project which developed and introduced the Enhanced Learning Support Assistant Programme (ELSAP). Untrained learning support assistants who were supporting students with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) in a College for Further Education in England were encouraged to enroll on ELSAP to enhance their professional development. The purpose of this paper is to share findings from the project and to report on some key professional developmental needs that college LSAs who worked in inclusive college classrooms have. Quantitative methodologies were employed and data were systematically collected over a fourteen-week period during ELSAP delivery and implementation. Findings indicate key gaps in the professional knowledge and practice of LSAs; misconceptions of their own role, responsibilities and tasks; unsatisfactory knowledge on SEND and appropriate interventions; limited understanding of physical symptoms on learning and little/no previous or existing knowledge and skills of the college curricula and unsatisfactory knowledge on how to motivate learners with SEND during the teaching-learning-process. Findings furthermore demonstrate that LSAs has a limited understanding of college policies/codes of conduct; lack knowledge on adult learning theories and lack professionalism in general.
Morehouse J.A., & Albright, L. (1991). The training trends and needs of paraprofessionals in transition service delivery agencies. Teacher Education and Special Education, 14(4), 248-256.
This study examined the training options and needs of paraprofessionals who provide transition services to students with disabilities in public school and adult agencies. Questionnaire responses of 142 individuals and interviews with 27 paraprofessionals and supervisors indicated that few structured training programs for these paraprofessionals exist. The competencies and training needs of these personnel were identified. (Author/DB)
Morgan J., Ashbaker, B.Y., & Allred, D. (2000). Providing training for paraeducators: What motivates them to attend? The Researcher: A Publication of the Northern Rocky Mountain Educational Research Association 15(1), 50-55.
“With the increase in numbers of paraeducators (teacher’s aides, classroom assistants, paraprofessionals) in classrooms in the last half century, and the increased sophistication of their assigned roles, the issue of training for this group becomes critical. Much of the training which is currently provided to paraeducators is not linked to a career pay structure, and administrators may be skeptical as to whether paraeducators would be willing to attend training given this lack of a vehicle for recognizing increased skill and knowledge levels. Paraeducators in three Western states were surveyed to ascertain their motivation for attending training. The results of this study suggest that paraeducators’; motivation for attending training is based on a simple desire to be better equipped to perform the tasks required of them.”
Morgan J., & Hofmeister, A.M. (1997). Staff development curricula for the paraeducator: Observations from the research. CASE in Point 10(2), 37-41.
Mueller P.H. (2003). Building capacity to attract, train, support and retain paraeducators. Williston, VT: Northeast Regional Resource Center.
It’s now out in the open…our schools cannot function without the assistance of paraprofessionals who provide instructional support to our students. With the advent of the “No Child Left Behind Act,” (NCLB) the public is coming to grips with the fact that many of our most challenged students have been educated by a primarily untrained, under-supervised workforce. Recent research investigations in the field of “paraeducation” have reported both the positive and negative impacts of paraeducator support on students with disabilities and their atrisk peers (Pickett, 2003). A closer look at the research may assist districts in systemic reform efforts that will help attract, train, support and retain members of this critical workforce. This article will provide a brief review of current Federal legislation, important research regarding paraeducators and an in depth description of one school district’s attempt to systemically reform its paraeducator service delivery model, in order to improve services for, and benefits to, students with disabilities and their at-risk peers.
Murphy A., Robinson, S. E., Cote, D. L., Karge, B. K., & Lee, T. (2015). A teachers use of video to train paraprofessionals in pivotal response techniques. Journal of Special Education Apprenticeship, 4(2), 1-18.
Research has shown that students with moderate-severe disabilities need direct and frequent social instruction in order to communicate and play with their peers. At the same time, there is little commensurate support for the paraprofessionals tasked with providing this support. It is imperative, then, that paraprofessionals have effective strategies in their repertoire of practices to facilitate social interaction. This investigation examined one classroom teacher’s use of video to train two paraprofessionals in Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT), an evidence based practice for students with autism. Findings suggest that the teacherprovided video training was effective in improving paraprofessionals’ PRT implementation, and subsequently, the social interactions of their students with disabilities other than autism, namely cerebral palsy and Down’s syndrome. Findings along with future directions for video-based training in the school setting are discussed.
O’Keeffe, B. V. Slocum, T. A., & Magnusson, R. (2013). The effects of a fluency training package on paraprofessionals’ presentation of a reading intervention. Journal of Special Education, 47(1), 14-27.
Paraprofessionals are widely employed in response to intervention (RTI) settings to provide instruction to students at-risk for reading disabilities. However, little research has addressed effective and efficient ways to train these paraprofessionals to deliver instruction with high fidelity. In addition, given the limited time and finances available in most districts, training needs to be as efficient as possible. This study assessed the effects of a 5-hour fluency training package on the presentation rates, praise rates, and error correction accuracy of five paraprofessionals providing supplemental reading instruction within an RTI system using a multiple baseline design across participants. Students’ reading accuracy and percentage of intervals with on-task behavior were evaluated. Paraprofessionals generally increased their presentation rates, praise rates, and error correction accuracy. Students’ behaviors were affected less.
Passaro P. D., Pickett, A. L., Latham, G., HongBo, W. (1994). The training and support needs of paraprofessionals in rural special education. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 13(4), 3-9.
Two surveys of rural paraprofessionals, teachers, and administrators in special education identified paraprofessionals’ perceived training and support needs, current training requirements for special education paraprofessionals, and effective methods of providing training in rural areas. Results encompass demographics, extent and quality of supervision, retention issues, previous training, and training needs. Bar graphs detail paraprofessional and supervisor ratings of paraprofessional competencies. (RAH)
Parsons M.B., & Reid, D.H. (1999). Training basic teaching skills to paraeducators of students with severe disabilities: A one-day program. Teaching Exceptional Children, 31(4), 48-55.
Describes a one-day Teaching Skills Training Program to train paraprofessional school personnel working with students with severe disabilities. The program focuses on four basic teaching competencies: task analysis, least-to-most assistive prompting, reinforcement, and error correction. The training format incorporates a classroom-based component, on-the-job monitoring and feedback, and follow-up supervision. (DB).
Pickett, A.L., Gerlach, K., Morgan, R., Likins, M., & Wallace, T. (2007). Paraeducators in schools: Strengthening the educational team . Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.
P. L. 107-110, 107th Cong. (2001) (enacted) No Child Left Behind Act. Retrieved from:
Outlines the requirements for paraeducators contained in the NCLB legislation. Consult your state department of education for specific interpretations of the law as required by your state.
Potter C.A. & Richardson, H.R. (1999). Facilitating classroom assistants’ professional reflection through video workshops. British Journal of Special Education 26 (1), 34-36.
Describes a training program for classroom assistants which focused on development of reflective skills. The program used short video recordings of classroom situations followed by group discussion. A framework for evaluating the video situations and discussing them is also offered. (DB)
Quilty, K.M. (2007). Teaching paraprofessionals how to write and implement social stories for students with autism spectrum disorders. Remedial and Special Education, 28, 182-189.
A multiple-baseline design across subjects was used to determine if paraprofessionals could be effectively taught to write and implement “Social Stories”TM] that shared accurate social information and had a positive impact on the targeted behaviors of students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Three paraprofessional-student pairs participated in the study. The data revealed that paraprofessionals could be effectively taught how to write and implement “Social Stories” Furthermore, the targeted student behaviors decreased after the implementation of the intervention. Maintenance data showed continued use of the “Social Stories” intervention and its effectiveness with the students with ASD.
Radford J., Bosanquet, P., Webster, R., & Blatchford, P. (2015). Scaffolding learning for indepedence: Clarifying teacher and teacher assistant roles for children with special educational needs. Learning and instruction, 36, 1-10.
Support for children with special educational needs (SEN) in inclusive classrooms, in many countries, continues to be provided by teaching assistants (TAs). Whilst they frequently take responsibility for instruction, they are rarely adequately trained and prepared. As TAs have ample opportunities for individualised and group interactions, this paper recommends scaffolding as the key theory to inform their practice. From a large dataset of interactions in mathematics and literacy lessons, episodes of TA scaffolding were selected. Using conversation analysis, three scaffolding roles emerged: 1) a support role that maintained learner engagement, on-task behaviour and motivation; 2) a repair function that focused on learning and fostered independence when children were in difficulty; and c) a heuristic role that encouraged students to use their own learning strategies. The paper concludes with implications for trainers and managers and how teachers can support TAs in implementing each role.
Rea P. (January 2001). Paraprofessionals: Training for success. Quinlan’s Special Education Law Bulletin, 7(1), 1-2.
This brief article discusses the importance of training paraprofessionals while acknowledging that adequate training and opportunities still do not exist at a sufficient level to meet IDEA requirements in many school districts. The author states, that “the number of paraprofessionals in the school workforce [is] roughly doubling every decade.” (p. 1). She also suggests that the shortages of paraprofessionals and the fact that schools can “employ three or four paraprofessionals for the cost of one teacher” (p. 1) will mean that the training challenge will continue to be present and probably will grow. She makes the following suggestions: (a) develop clear job descriptions (older ones are often outdated), (b) train your own staff to train, © match assignments so that experienced teachers are with novice paraprofessionals, (d) attempt to match staff training and experience to specialized duties, (e) cross-train so more than one person knows how to perform specialized tasks, (f) try to avert the problem of counterproductive dependencies, (g) solicit input from paraprofessionals about the potential content of training, (h) establish a regular cycle of training, and (i) train paraprofessionals and teachers together when appropriate. The closes by stating, “select the best candidates possible and then devote energy and funds to equipping them with the tools for the important work they do…” (p. 2).
Reinoehl R. B., & Halle, J. W. (1994). Increasing the assessment probe performance of teacher aides through written prompts. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 24, 272-279.
This study found that delivering data cards to three special education teacher aides prompting them to conduct daily social-greeting probes of students with severe disabilities was effective in increasing the level of probing and was accompanied by less variability, higher sustained probing rates, and more equitable probing compared to not using the cards. (Author/JDD)
Riggs C.G. (2001, January/February). Ask the paraprofessionals: What are your training needs? Teaching Exceptional Children, 33(3), 78-83.
This study examined the perceived training needs of school paraprofessionals using a survey of approximately 200 paraprofessionals, analysis of written responses by 150 paraprofessional conference attendees, and interviews with 20 paraprofessionals from several school districts. Respondents expressed a need for training in knowledge of specific disabilities, behavior management, working with other adults, and inclusive practices. (Contains references.) (DB)
Robinson S. E. (2011). Teaching paraprofessionals of students with autism to implement pivotal response treatment in inclusive school settings using a brief video feedback training package. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 26(2) 105-118.
Given that students with autism spend the majority of their days in school settings, largely supported by paraprofessionals, it is important that these paraprofessionals receive adequate training. The author investigated a training package consisting of modeling and video-based feedback as a means of enabling paraprofessionals to implement Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) in the inclusive school setting. A multiple baseline design across four paraprofessional -focal student pairs was employed. The findings suggest that the training package was effective and efficient in improving paraprofessional PRT implementation and levels of involvement as well as social communication target behaviors of the students with autism. Generalization across activities and students, maintenance, and social validity were also assessed.
Russotti J. & Rona S. (2001). In-service training for teacher assistants and others who work with students with visual impairments. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 95 (8), 483-487.
This article reports on a one-day workshop in New York to provide practical information and training for teaching assistants working in the mainstream classroom setting with students who have visual impairments. The workshop provided information on “myths” versus “facts” of visual impairment, eye conditions, orientation and mobility, technology, and activities of daily living. (Contains nine references.) (DB)
Storey K., Smith, D. J., & Strain, P. S. (1993). Use of classroom assistants and peer-mediated intervention to increase integration in preschool settings. Exceptionality, 4, 1-16.
The effectiveness of peer-mediated intervention on the social behavior of eight socially withdrawn preschoolers was examined. Intervention conducted by classroom assistants resulted in the withdrawn preschoolers increasing their social interactions with peers during instructional triads and improving their behavior. (Author/JDD)
Steckelberg A.L., & Vasa, S.F. (1998). How paraeducators learn on the web. Teaching Exceptional Children, 30(5), 54-59.
Describes a paraeducator training program that used the World Wide Web (WWW) to provide self-study instruction units that were accessible from local schools. The WWW allowed for increased interaction between paraeducators and instructors, encouraged discussion among trainees, and facilitated communication between the university and local training liaisons. (CR)
Uitto, D. J., & Chopra, R. V. (2015) Training programs for teacher assistants. In D.K. Chambers (Ed.), Working with teaching assistants and other support staff for inclusive education, (pp. 241-262). Bingley, United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Training, particularly in the form of comprehensive professional development, continues to be a need for paraeducators (also known as teacher assistants). Training needs begin with an initial set of knowledge and skills and is built based upon the paraeducator’s role with individual students and the educational settings. Standards or guidance documents are available from a few individual states within the United States, higher education systems, and professional organizations that serve individuals with exceptional needs and agencies. An international professional organization, Council for Exceptional Children [CEC] (2011), identified a common skill set that reinforces standards for defining curricula when providing training to paraeducators. Key to their ongoing professional development is the on-the-job coaching by the education professional (teacher), to support the application of skills into the inclusive setting. Various forms of professional development are available including online trainings in addition to face-to-face.
Vadasy P.F., Sanders, E.A., Tudor, S. (2007). Effectiveness of paraeducator-supplemented individual instruction. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 40(6), 508-525.
A total of 46 children in Grades 2 and 3 with low word-level skills were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 groups that received supplemental phonics-based reading instruction. One group received intervention October through March (21.5 hours), and one group served as a control from October through March and later received intervention March through May (17.5 hours). Paraeducators trained in a standard treatment protocol provided individual instruction for 30 min per day, 4 days per week. At the March posttest, the early treatment (ET; n = 23) group outperformed the controls (late treatment, LT; n = 20) on reading accuracy and passage fluency. Across both groups, second graders outperformed third graders on these same measures. At the 3-month follow-up, the ET group showed no evidence of decline in reading accuracy, passage fluency, or words spelled; however, 3rd-grade ET students had significantly higher spelling skills compared to 2nd graders. The LT group demonstrated significant growth during their intervention in reading accuracy and spelling, but not passage fluency. When we compared the ET and LT groups on their gains per instructional hour, we found that the ET group made significantly greater gains than the LT group across all 3 measures. The results support the value of paraeducator-supplemented reading instruction for students below grade level in word identification and reading fluency.
Vadasy P.F., Sanders, E.A., Peyton, J.A. (2006). Code-oriented instruction for kindegarten students at risk for reading difficulties: a randomized field trial with paraeducator implementers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(3), 508-528.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of code-oriented supplemental instruction for kindergarten students at risk for reading difficulties. Paraeducators were trained to provide 18 weeks of explicit instruction in phonemic skills and the alphabetic code. Students identified by their teachers meeting study eligibility criteria were randomly assigned to 2 groups: individual supplemental instruction and control. Students were pretested in December, midtested, and posttested in May-June of kindergarten. At posttest, treatment students significantly outperformed controls on measures of reading accuracy, reading efficiency, oral reading fluency, and developmental spelling. Treatment students had significantly higher linear growth rates in phonemic awareness and alphabetic knowledge during the kindergarten treatment. At a 1-year follow-up, significant group differences remained in reading accuracy and efficiency. Ethical challenges of longitudinal intervention research are discussed. Findings have policy implications for making supplemental instruction in critical early reading skills available.
Walker V. A, & Snell, M. E. (2016). Teaching paraprofessionals to implement function-based interventions. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, First published date: October-20-2016 doi: 10.1177/1088357616673561.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of workshops and coaching on paraprofessional implementation of function-based interventions. The results of indirect and direct functional behavior assessment guided the development of intervention strategies for three students with autism and intellectual disability. Following intervention, students’ appropriate behavior increased and challenging behavior decreased. In general, paraprofessionals implemented strategies with high levels of fidelity and judged both the coaching and workshop training procedures and student intervention strategies as socially valid. Implications for practice, limitations, and suggestions for future research are discussed.
Walker V. L. & Smith, C. G. (2015). Training paraprofessionals to support students with disabilities: A literature review. Exceptionality, 23(3), 170-191.
The purpose of this literature review is to describe intervention research studies in which paraprofessionals received training applicable to student with disabilities. Thirty studies were systematically reviewed to identify (a) characteristics of study participants and settings, (b) characteristics of paraprofessional training and paraprofessional-implemented intervention evaluated within these studies, (c) quality of the studies, and (d) implications for practice and areas for future research. Overall, paraprofessional training and subsequent intervention with students yielded positive outcomes. Training sessions typically were delivered by workshops, lectures, or classes and classroom-based training. However, numerous studies failed to demonstrate characteristics of study quality.
Wellington W. & Stackhouse, J. (2011). Using visual support for language and learning in children with SLCN: A training programme for teachers and teaching assistants. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 27, 183-201.
The majority of children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) are educatedin mainstream classrooms where they can have difficulties with the language needed for learning. Although visual support in the classroom can help to scaffold children’s learning and socialization, many teachers feel ill equipped to use this. They do not feel confident enough to identify, differentiate and support children with SLCN. This article presents a training and mentoring programme delivered to teachers and teaching assistants (TAs) in seven mainstream primary schools. It involved a group training session outlining the nature and identification of children with SLCN, impact of SLCN on accessing the curriculum, and visual strategies and techniques for supporting learning. This was followed up by six, weekly mentoring sessions in the classroom with a speech and language therapist (SLT) or SLT assistant (SLTA). Pre- and post-training questionnaires and classroom observations were used to examine the impact of this programme. The observations were repeated after one school term to establish if the use of visual support had been maintained. Although there were differences between the teachers and TAs pre-training, they both increased their use of visual support strategies in the classroom post-training and maintained this one term after the training had ceased. The method and practical implications of this study are discussed.
Wermer, L, Brock, M. A., Seaman, R.L (2017). Efficacy of a teacher training a paraprofessional to promote communication for a student with autism and complex communication needs. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, https://doi.org/10.1177/1088357617736052
Students with complex communication needs require well-designed supports to communicate effectively in school settings. Although paraprofessionals are often charged with supporting these students, they are rarely trained in how to promote communication, and there is limited research on how they might be trained. In this study, we used a multiple baseline across behaviors design to test the efficacy of a teacher-implemented training package to train a paraprofessional to provide opportunities for an elementary student with autism to respond, set up opportunities for her to initiate, and implement a systematic prompting hierarchy. We demonstrated a functional relation between the teacher-implemented training and paraprofessional acquisition of the strategies, and paraprofessional implementation coincided with increased student communication. This study replicates previous findings that paraprofessionals can be trained to implement evidence-based practices to promote use of alternative/augmentative communication, and extends this literature by demonstrating that a classroom teacher can deliver paraprofessional training effectively.