Paraeducators and Inclusion

Abbott E. A., Sanders, L. (2012). Paraeducators’ perceptions of music therapy sessions. Music Therapy Perspectives 30(2), 145-150.

Twenty paraeducators discussed their perspectives on music therapy sessions in focus groups. Analysis of the discussions revealed those paraeducators’ perspectives on (a) their learning about students through students’ engagement in music therapy sessions, (b) their personal gains from music therapy sessions, and (c) collaborative moments in music therapy sessions. Findings show that music therapists may have the power to support paraeducators in their work, which in turn may elicit paraeducator investment in supporting student engagement in music therapy sessions.

Adolphson S. L., Hawken, L. S., & Carroll, M. S. (2010). Supporting students with disabilities in the general education classroom: The behavioral health assistant. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 12(4), 236-244.

This article describes an effective model for employing paraprofessionals to provide behavioral support for students in a general education setting. Behavioral health assistants (BHAs) worked under the supervision of school psychologists and counselors and provided behavioral interventions for students with behavioral goals on their individualized education programs or served a preventive function for students with elevated risk factors who had been referred to multidisciplinary teams due to problem behavior. Descriptive information about the BHA program is provided regarding (a) average numbers of students served; (b) most frequent types of interventions and supports; © types of problem behaviors addressed; (d) changes to students’ grades during the period they received services; and (e) the acceptability of the program among school teachers, administrators, BHAs, and other school personnel.

Alborz, A., Pearson, D., Farrell, P. and Howes, A. (2009). The impact of adult support staff on pupils and mainstream schools, London: Dept. for Children, Schools and Families and Institute of Education.

What do we want to know? What is the impact of adult support staff on the participation and learning of pupils and on mainstream schools? What are the support processes that lead to these outcomes? Who wants to know and why? This information is helpful for the government and local authorities, to assess whether the employment of greater numbers of support staff has been worthwhile. It is also of benefit to school leadership and teachers, providing information on the types of positive impacts support staff have and how these are achieved. Other people interested in improving the quality of education for all children will also be interested in the impact of support staff. What did we find? Pupils: Literature suggests that trained and supported teaching assistants (TAs) can have a positive impact on the progress of individual or small groups of children, in the development of basic literacy skills. In addition, ‘sensitive’ TA support can facilitate pupil engagement in learning and social activities, with the class teacher and their peers; that is, sensitive TA support can both facilitate interaction, and also reflect an awareness of times when pupils need to undertake self-directed choices and actions. Evidence suggests that TAs can promote social and emotional adjustment in social situations, but that they are not very successful in undertaking therapeutic tasks aimed at supporting children with emotional and behavioural problems. Schools: Use of TA support allows teachers to engage pupils in more creative and practical activities and to spend more time working with small groups or individuals. Class-related workload is somewhat reduced when working with a TA, but the teacher role may become more managerial as this workload may increase. An adult presence in classroom makes teachers feel supported and less stressed. The knowledge that pupils were receiving improved levels of attention and support was also reported to enhance job satisfaction for teachers. ‘Team’ teaching styles, involving TAs and work with small groups, can promote learning support as a routine activity and part of an ‘inclusive’ environment in which all children are supported. TAs can act as an intermediary between teachers and parents, encouraging parental contacts, but care is required to ensure that appropriate contacts with the teacher are maintained. What are the implications? The review suggests the deployment of the TA workforce has been successful in providing support for teachers on a number of levels and Abstract 2 The impact of adult support staff on pupils and mainstream schools in delivering benefits to pupils. To enhance these impacts, it is necessary to ensure effective management and support for TAs, including effective training and clear career structure. Collaborative working is required if TA support is to be employed to its best effect. Teachers therefore need to be trained in these approaches and the ongoing effect of this emphasis needs to be monitored in professional standards for teachers. Progress was more marked when TAs supported pupils in discrete well defined areas of work or learning. Findings suggest that support to individual pupils should be combined with supported group work that facilitates all pupils’ participation in class activities. The importance of allocated time for teachers and TAs to plan programmes of work was apparent. Support, embedded as ‘standard’ school practice, with the type and extent of support provided planned on an individual basis, has implications for the destigmatisation of supported pupils.

Anderson, C. M., Smith, T., Iovannone, R. (2018). Building capacity to support students with autism spectrum disorder: a modular apporach to intervention. Education and Treatment of Children, 41(1), 107-138.

There is a large gap between research-based interventions for supporting children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and current practices implemented by educators to meet the needs of these children in typical school settings. Myriad reasons for this gap exist including the external validity of existing research, the complexity of ASD, and constraints on service delivery systems. Thus, a systematic approach is needed to adapt research-based interventions for use in typical school settings. One way to address these challenges is a modular intervention framework. In this article, we describe how a modular intervention framework could be implemented in schools. A case study is used to illustrate implementation of the framework.

Andzik, N. R., Chung, Y., Doneski-Nicol, J., Dollarhide, C. T. (2019). AAC services in schools: a special educator’s perspective. International Journal of Developmental Disabilities, 65(2), 89-97.

Objectives: Students with intellectual and developmental disabilities often require augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) to fully meet their academic and social potential. AAC supports can be challenging for some educators to implement. This study sought to bring light to these challenges.

Methods: A qualitative interview approach was utilized to examine the perspectives of 14 special education teachers who supported students using AAC systems. Participants described their experiences regarding providing AAC services.

Results: Despite receiving some supports, the majority of teachers identified challenges, including inadequate training, lack of comprehensive assessment, inadequate preparation time, and inconsistent AAC implementation across team members.

Conclusion:This study highlighted key factors that impacted AAC access and outcomes of students with complex communication needs. Practical implications and future research needed to enhance the communication outcomes of students were discussed.

Angelides, P, Constantinou, C, & Leigh, J. (2009). The role of paraprofessionals in developing inclusive education in Cyprus. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 24(1), 75-89.

A presupposition of inclusive education is that all children have the right to attend the school of their neighborhood. The implication of this is that schools begin to be organized in ways to provide equal opportunities for teaching and learning of all children. However, to achieve this, it is implied that schools need more teachers or at least personnel. Thus, many educational systems around the world require the involvement of more teachers and this brings a significant additional financial cost. In order to defray some of the additional costs for additional teachers, many school systems opt to involve paraprofessionals in the educational process, especially for supporting children who experience difficulties in learning. The purpose of this paper is to study the role of paraprofessionals in the educational environment of Cyprus, and how they assist in the provision of more inclusive education. We employed qualitative research methods to collect data from two schools. Our findings show that paraprofessionals had a contradictory contribution to inclusive education: both inclusion and exclusion were two parallel processes in their practices. In addition, their roles were confused. They appeared to have double roles both as pedagogues and as social monitors. This confused status influenced the paraprofessionals’ contribution towards the provision of fully effective inclusive education. (Contains 1 table.)

Ashbaker, B. Y., & Morgan, J. (2012). Team players and Team managers: Special educators working with paraeducators to support inclusive classrooms. Creative Education, 3, 322-327.

This paper summarizes recommendations from a selection of international research literature urging teachers to take the initiative in their own classrooms to invite paraeducators to participate fully as team players in collaborative work. In US classrooms paraeducators (teacher aides/teacher assistants) have long been making valuable contributions in providing education services to students with a variety of needs. The literature documents change in their roles. Legislation has influenced their required qualifications—although legislation still refers to them as paraprofessionals. While some researchers have cast doubt on whether paraeducators are truly effective in their assigned roles, others have warned that the education system is over-reliant on them. In response to this changing perspective, teacher educators must revise programs to better prepare teacher candidates to effectively team with paraeducators. Personnel developers and school administrators must provide inservice training for a generation of teachers who have received little if any training in this area.

Bennett T., Deluca, D., & Bruns, D. (1997). Putting inclusion into practice. Exceptional Children, 64(1), 115-131.

This study found that classroom teachers needed more support in class as well as help in modifying and adapting the classroom environment and activities, and training on techniques for working with kids with disabilities. The authors mention paraprofessionals specifically.

Blacher J. (2007). Holding on to their kitestrings: Paraprofessional support in inclusive settings. Exceptional Parent, 37(10), 74-76.

Many students “included” in general education today are accompanied by a paraprofessional, also known as a 1-to-1 aide, therapist, behavioral aide, or personal assistant. The use of a paraprofessional, particularly with children who have autism, mental retardation, deaf-blindness, or multiple disabilities has many merits, such as increased behavioral support, personal care assistance, and additional supervision. It may seem the only disadvantage would be the additional cost to the school. However, individual paraprofessional support has both advantages and disadvantages for the child. Parents should consider all of these before determining that their child requires a 1-to-1 paraprofessional. While the drawbacks of paraprofessional support might lead some parents and school staff to reconsider the service all together, there are some strategies that can help assure the appropriate use of the 1-to-1. [“Holding on to Their Kitestrings: Paraprofessional Support in Inclusive Settings” was written with Tiffany Rodriguez.]

Boutot, E.A., Bryant, D.P. (2005). Social integration of students with autism in inclusive settings. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities. 40(1), 14-23.

Students with autism are increasingly being placed in general education “inclusion” settings for the purpose of improved social integration. This article presents information on the social integration of ten students with autism in elementary inclusive settings. The purposes were to describe three social integration constructs of students with autism in inclusive classrooms, including their acceptance (social preference), visibility (social impact), and membership in a peer group (social network affiliation) and to identify the extent to which severity of autism characteristics contributed to these social integration constructs. Results suggest students with autism in inclusive settings are as accepted, visible, and members of peer groups, as well as both their peers without disabilities and those with other disabilities. Post hoc observations revealed further factors that may impact these constructs as well.

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, DOI: 10.1177/1088357615587505. 

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. & Carter, E. W. (2013). A systematic review of paraprofessional-delivered educational practices to improve outcomes for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 38, 211-221.

The involvement of paraprofessionals in the education of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) has been both complex and controversial. Many scholars and advocates have raised concerns about the roles these staff members play in schools and the degree to which there is empirical support for their direct work with students. We conducted a systematic review of the literature to address two primary questions: To what extent have paraprofessional-implemented educational practices been shown to improve outcomes for elementary and secondary students with IDD, and what professional development strategies enable paraprofessionals to implement these strategies with fidelity? These studies indicate paraprofessionals, when given adequate training, are capable of effectively implementing a number of educational practices that result in improved academic and social outcomes, specifically, teaching communication skills, reducing problem behaviors, and increasing independence for students with IDD. Follow-up training and support, modeling, and performance feedback were prominent training components across most studies in this review and are validated in the broader research literature. However, limitations leave many questions unanswered about how to best train and support paraprofessionals. We discuss recommendations for preparing paraprofessionals who work with students with IDD, as well as future directions for research.

Brown, T. L., Gatmaitan, M., Harjusola-Webb, S. M. (2014). Using performance feedback to support paraprofessionals in inclusive preschool classrooms. Young Exceptional Children, 17(2), 21-31.

Mrs. Riley and Mrs. Morgan have been working together in an inclusive preschool classroom in an urban elementary school for 3 years. Mrs. Riley has been an Early Childhood Intervention Specialist for 10 years. Mrs. Morgan has been a preschool paraprofessional for 3 years and has no formal education related to early childhood education. Mrs. Riley and Mrs. Morgan have been brainstorming ways to improve their instructional practices. Many of the students in Mrs. Riley and Mrs. Morgan’s class have communication delays or disorders, which led the team (i.e., Mrs. Riley and Mrs. Morgan) to concentrate their efforts in assuring that all of the professionals in the classroom were consistently providing rich opportunities for communication throughout the day. Mrs. Morgan has a nurturing disposition as the paraprofessional, and her interactions with the children and adults are very positive. Mrs. Morgan is always seeking to improve her instruction and is very responsive to feedback from Mrs. Riley and the related service providers who are part of their team.

Bryan, R. B., McCubbin, J., & van der Mars (2013). The ambiguous role of the paraeducator in the general physical education environment. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, 29, 164-183.

The use of paraeducators has increased as a main mechanism to include more students with disabilities in the public schools in the U.S. Although the utilization of paraeducators is intended to be a supportive service delivery option, many concerns and challenges have resulted. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of the paraeducator in the general physical education environment from the perspectives of special education, physical education, and adapted physical education teachers and paraeducators. Data were collected from a phenomenological approach using questionnaires, interviews, and observations. Results indicate concerns about the clarity of the role of the paraeducator in physical education. Emerging themes include elastic definitions of student protection and teacher backup, contradictory expectations and mixed acceptance, and paraeducators’ role ambiguity. Findings regarding the role of the paraeducator are essential in determining both best practice and legal policy for the appropriate utilization of paraeducators in physical education.

Bryant, D. P., Bryant, B. R., Smith, D. D. (2020). Teaching Students with Special Needs in Inclusive Classrooms. Sage Publications, Inc. Thoousands Oaks, California.

Burdick, C. & Causton-Theoharis (2012). Creating Effective Paraprofessional Support in the Inclusive Art Classroom. Art Education 65(6), 33-37.

Paraprofessionals are among the 650,000 people supervised by certified professionals who support students with disabilities as determined by a student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). Other terms to describe this position may include “aide”, “assistant,” or “associate” among others. The number of paraprofessionals present in classrooms has increased over the past 10 years (French, 2003; Giangreco & Broer, 2005). While there is a growing body of literature that examines the role of parapro fessionals in the general classroom (Broer, Doyle, & Giangreco, 2005), there is little information about the role of the paraprofessional in the art classroom and the types of support offered.

Butt, R. (2016). Teacher assistant support and deployment in mainstream schools. International Journal of Inclusive Education.

Models of support for students with disability and learning difficulties in mainstream classes in Australia rely extensively on teacher assistants (TAs). Current models, however, inadvertently perpetuate low expectations because providing TA support can be one of the most restrictive supports offered in a school [Giangreco, M. F. 2010a. “One-to-One Paraprofessionals for Students with Disabilities in Inclusive Classrooms: Is Conventional Wisdom Wrong?” Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities 48 (1): 1–13; Etscheidt, S. 2005. “Paraprofessional Services for Students with Disabilities: A Legal Analysis of Issues.”Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities 30(2): 60–80]. In addition, the increasing instructional role of TAs in the classroom is concerning. Negative outcomes for students where TAs provide support have been noted [Giangreco, M. F., J. C. Suter, and M. B. Doyle. 2010. “Paraprofessionals in Inclusive Schools: A Review of Recent Research.”Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation 20: 41–57; Webster, R., P. Blatchford, and A. Russell. 2010. “Should Teaching Assistants Have a Pedagogical Role? Lessons Following the DISS Project.” Paper Presented at the BERA annual conference, September 1–4, University of Warwick, UK]. A qualitative case study was conducted in an Australia city over three years across four primary school sites to identify the issues and propose possible solutions. The study identified five different models of TA support and deployment. It was found support models used in mainstream schools were generally inequitable – if students did not have a disability or learning difficulty they received instruction primarily from a qualified teacher, but if students had a disability or learning difficulty, they received instruction from a TA who may have had no qualifications, no involvement in planning, limited supervision and unclear reporting; and no clear duty statement requirements. A more inclusive and more equitable model of TA support is discussed.

Butt, R. & Lowe, K. (2012). Teaching assistants and class teachers: Differing perceptions, role confusion and the benefits of skills-based training. International Journal of Inclusive Education. 16(2), 207-219.

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.

Cameron D. L., Cook, B. G, & Tankersley, M. (2011). An analysis of the different patterns of 1:1 interactions between educational professionals and their students with varying abilities in inclusive classrooms. International Journal of Inclusive Education.

The purpose of this study was to examine the different types and patterns of 1:1 interactions provided by general educators, special educators and paraprofessionals to children with mild disabilities (n = 13), severe disabilities (n = 13), and children without disabilities (n = 13) in inclusive classrooms. General educators, special educators, and paraprofessionals’ 1:1 interactions with students in three comparison groups were recorded in 17 elementary and middle school classrooms using a partial interval observation system. We found significant differences with respect to interaction frequency and content. Teachers and paraprofessionals had consistently more 1:1 interactions with students with severe disabilities, followed by children with mild disabilities, and then students without disabilities. In comparison to special education teachers and paraprofessionals, general educators interacted significantly more frequently with children without disabilities and children with mild disabilities. In contrast, paraprofessionals interacted significantly more often with students with severe disabilities and less frequently with children with mild disabilities and students without disabilities. Instructional interactions in social, behavioural, and functional domains were infrequent in these classrooms. We conclude with a brief discussion of the implications of these findings for future research and practice.

Capizzi, A. M., & DaFonte, A. A. (2012). Supporting paraeducators through a collaborative classrooms support plan. Focus on Exceptional Children, 44(6), 1-6.

Carter, E.W. & Hughes, Carolyn (2006). Including high school students with severe disabilities in general education classes: Perspectives of general and special educators, paraprofessionals, and administrators. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 31, 174-185.

Increasing the participation of youth with severe disabilities in general education has remained a consistent and prominent focus of legislative, policy, and research initiatives. We examined the perceptions of high school staff regarding the goals, barriers, benefits, outcomes, and supports associated with including adolescents with severe disabilities in general education classes. We found that general and special educators, paraprofessionals, and administrators both converged and diverged in their evaluations of different aspects of general education participation. Despite broad agreement regarding the benefits of and instructional priorities in general education classrooms, stakeholders differed significantly in their perceptions of barriers associated with including students with disabilities in general education classes at their high schools. (Contains 5 tables.)

Carter, E. W., Sisco, L. G., Melekoglu, M. A., & Kurkowski, C. (2007). Peer supports as an alternative to individually assigned paraprofessionals in inclusive high school classrooms. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 32(4), 1-15.

Promoting access to the general curriculum has emerged as a central theme of the standards-based reform movement, challenging educators to identify effective strategies for supporting students with disabilities to access the numerous social and learning opportunities within general education. We examined peer support interventions as an alternative to one-to-one, adult-delivered support in high school science and art classrooms. All four participants with severe disabilities engaged in substantially more peer interactions when working with a peer support relative to when receiving direct support from a paraprofessional or special educator. Students’ levels of academic engagement were not diminished because of participation in peer support arrangements. We discuss the contributions of these strategies to promoting peer interaction within inclusive classrooms, as well as offer recommendations for further refinement of this intervention approach. (Contains 2 tables and 2 figures.)

Council for Exceptional Children (2004). The CEC paraeducator standards workbook. Alexandria, VA: Author.

Causton-Theoharis, J. N. (2009). The golden rule of providing support in inclusive classrooms: Support others as you would wish to be supported. Teaching Exceptional Children, 42(2), 36-43.

Inclusion is a way of thinking–a deeply held belief that all children, regardless of ability or disability, are valued members of the school and classroom community. Inclusive classrooms are places where all students “are integral members of classrooms, feel a connection to their peers, have access to rigorous and meaningful general education curricula and receive the collaborative support to succeed.” Because 54% of the 6 million students with disabilities spend more than 80% of their school day in general education classrooms, a common support strategy is one-on-one support. The current ratio is 1 special education paraprofessional for every 17 students with disabilities. But as schools integrate more services into the classroom, adult support will also involve a special educator, a speech and language clinician, an occupational therapist, and physical therapists or a school psychologist. In this article, the term “adult support” refers to any professional who supports a student with a disability in an inclusive classroom. The author states that adult help can be seamless and effective–and thereby fully support the purposes of inclusion. The golden rule for adult support in inclusive classrooms is to support others as one would wish to be supported. Adequately applying the golden rule requires knowledge and imagination. Educators need to know the effect of their actions on students. The author also discusses the need for fading support, as reflected in the literature.

Causton-Theoharis, J. (2009). The paraprofessional’s handbook for effective support in inclusive classrooms. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

What does a great paraprofessional need to know and do? Find out in this handy survival guide, equally useful for the brand-new paraprofessional or the 20-year classroom veteran. Packed with friendly guidance, practical tips, and relatable first-person stories, this book reveals the best ways to provide effective, respectful services to students in inclusive classrooms. Julie Causton-Theoharis, a teacher, professor, and educational consultant with more than 10 years of experience as a paraprofessional instructor, knows exactly how to help readers stop feeling overwhelmed so they can start making a difference. She answers all the urgent questions paraprofessionals have as they navigate their complex job in the inclusive classroom, showing readers how to: provide skillful and subtle support to students while encouraging their independence resolve challenging behavior in gentle and positive ways find students’ strengths and match support practices to them fade their support make informed decisions about content-specific accommodations, modifications, and adaptations presume competence and keep expectations high facilitate peer supports and friendships partner with teachers, SLPs, psychologists, families, and other members of the educational team relieve their own stress and avoid burnout To help them master the daily ups and downs of the inclusive classroom, paraprofessionals will get ready-to-use practical content: tips for supporting students with specific disabilities, helpful question-and-answer sections, examples of successful problem-solving, a quick-guide to acronyms in education, easy ideas for improving teamwork, and more. The essential guide for every paraprofessional and a must-have for the educators and other professionals who support them this empowering book takes the guesswork out of a critical classroom role and helps students with disabilities reach their full potential.

Devecchi, C., Dettori, F., Doveston, M., Sedgwick, P., & Jament, J. (2012). ). Inclusive classrooms in Italy and England: The role of support teacher and teaching assistants. European journal of Special Needs Education, 27(2), 171-184.

Various models of providing for the inclusion of children with disabilities and special needs exist in different European countries. Central to all these models is the notion that support for children and teachers is pivotal in ensuring effective inclusion. This article draws from three qualitative studies on the role, employment and deployment of support teachers in Italy and teaching assistants in England to examine similarities and differences between the two models of provision. The analysis of questionnaires and interviews show that, despite differences in relation to professional qualifications and responsibilities, both support teachers and TAs carry out similar supportive roles, but also share similar feelings of marginalisation, isolation and professional dissatisfaction. The paper raises questions about the effectiveness of providing support from additional adults when such adults are not fully included in the life of the school.

de Verdier K., Fernell, E., Ek, U. (2018). Challenges and successful pedagogical strategies: Experiences from six Swedish students with blindness and autism in different school settings. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(2), 520-532.

The prevalence of autism in children with blindness is much higher than in the general population. There are many challenges regarding the school situation for children with this complex dual disability. This study explored challenges and successful strategies in school for a sample of six Swedish children with blindness and autism, with and without intellectual disability, through qualitative interviews with students, teachers and parents. All students displayed executive functioning deficits, and the teaching situation entailed several challenges. Our research points to the importance of adopting evidence-based practices for ASD, but adapted according to the students lack of vision. For this to be possible, close collaboration between teachers, parents and specialists in the field of visual impairment and autism is necessary.

Douglas, S. N (2012). Teaching paraeducators to support the communication of individuals who use augmentative and alternative communicaiton: A literature reveiw. Current Issues in Education, 15(1), 1-12.

Individuals with complex communication needs (CCN) who rely on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) to communicate in school and community activities often have paraeducators[1] as communication partners. For individuals who use AAC, successful communication often depends upon their personal skills as well as the skills of their communication partners. Because the skills of communication partners are critical, and can be taught, a review was conducted to identify the effect of teaching paraeducators to provide appropriate communication supports for individuals using AAC using studies that included data for both paraeducators and individuals with CCN. Studies were analyzed using the recommendations from the Communication Partner Instruction Model (Kent-Walsh & McNaughton, 2005). Findings from seven studies suggest that communication partner training to paraeducators can have positive outcomes for the communication behaviors of both paraeducators and individuals using AAC. Implications for practice and future research directions are addressed.

Downing, J. E., Ryndak, D. L., & Clark, D. (2000). Paraeducators in inclusive classrooms. Remedial and Special Education, 21(3), 171-181.

The perceptions of paraeducators regarding their roles and responsibilities in supporting students with moderate to severe disabilities in general education classrooms were the focus of this qualitative study. Sixteen paraeducators were interviewed using a semistructured interview guide to determine their understanding of their role, challenges they experienced, training needs, and relationships with other team members. Numerous roles and different types of responsibilities were described, such as teaching, adapting materials, facilitating interactions with peers, and implementing behavioral interventions. Paraeducators also reported a considerable degree of independence in decision making and implementation of programs. Although the critical importance of paraeducators in the support of students with severe disabilities is not in question, the independence while performing their role may not reflect desired practice, given their minimal training and lack of a teaching credential. Implications for the field concerning the use, training, and supervision of paraeducators are presented. 15(3) 169–179.

Downing J.E. Peckham-Hardin, K. D. (2007). Inclusive education: what makes it a good education for students with moderate to severe disabilities? Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 32(1), 16-30.

Parents, teachers, and paraeducators at three inclusive schools were interviewed as part of a qualitative study to investigate perceptions regarding a quality educational program for students with moderateYsevere disabilities. Instead of looking at schools engaged in a systematic change process from separate to inclusive education for students with severe disabilities, a major premise of this study was that all students, regardless of ability or disability, were educated together in chronologically age appropriate general education classrooms (preschool through 8th grade). The intent of this study was to determine what key stakeholders (parents, teachers, and paraeducators) felt was a good educational program for students with moderatey severe disabilities after an inclusive placement was a given. Fifty-eight participants were interviewed (18 parents, 23 teachers, and 17 paraeducators) representing four preschool children, nine elementary students, and five middle school students all having moderatey severe and multiple disabilities. A constant comparison methodology was used to analyze the data across both age of target child and role of stakeholder. Findings revealed 12 themes that highlighted the benefits of inclusive education for all students, specific components that needed to be in place to ensure a quality education, and typical goals for the future. Implications for the field were discussed,

Doyle, M. B. (2008). The paraprofessional’s guide to the inclusive classroom: Working as a team (3rd ed.) Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.

This handbook is designed to provide introductory information for the paraprofessional, the general educator, and the special educator to enable a better understanding of roles and responsibilities in the inclusive classroom and to enable them to work as a team. Specific instructional strategies that are useful when considering how to provide instruction to students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms are outlined. The guide is divided into five chapters: (1) “The Paraprofessional: Changing Roles and Responsibilities,” addresses why paraprofessionals are in such high demand, the paraprofessionals’ responsibilities in the inclusive classroom, and the type of training and support paraprofessionals require; (2) “The Inclusive Classroom: Being a Team Member,” discusses who paraprofessionals are working with and daily schedules; (3) “The Paraprofessional in the Inclusive Classroom: Supporting Individual Students,” explains Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), how paraprofessionals use IEPs, and the importance of a student’s schedule; (4) “Providing Curricular and Instructional Support: Individualized Instruction,” highlights common components of daily routines, how instructional prompts are provided, and curricular adaptations; and (5) “Maintaining Confidentiality: Communicating with Team Members,” discusses planning communication opportunities and confidentiality requirements. Each chapter provides a brief overview of the topic, chapter objectives, reflections from paraprofessionals, and worksheets. (Contains 15 references.) (CR)

Egilson, S.T., & Traustadottir, R. (2009). Assistance to pupils with physical disabilities in regular schools: Promoting inclusion or creating dependency? European Journal of Special Needs Education, 24(1), 21-36.

Drawing on the perspectives of pupils with physical disabilities, their parents and teachers, this study explored the adult support provided to pupils with physical disabilities in regular schools. Data were collected through observations at schools and qualitative interviews. In all, 49 individuals participated in this study: 14 pupils with physical disabilities, 17 parents, and 18 teachers. Six themes emerged that characterised the provision of assistance: (1) roles and responsibilities; (2) quantity and content of support (3) proximity to the pupil, (4) school priorities, (5) independence and autonomy of the child; and (6) the relationship between the teacher and the assistant. An over-reliance on adult support was found for some pupils and contexts, while this support appeared to be under-utilised or ineffectively delivered in other situations. Lack of modifications of the traditional curriculum, teacher instructions, and educational activities increased the pupils’ need for adult support in school. While it is acknowledged that teacher assistants can make valuable contributions in promoting participation and learning among pupils with disabilities, it is argued that the constant presence of an assistant can result in limited use of the children’s strengths and may possibly create unnecessary or unhealthy dependencies. The findings signify that the education system must align with important stakeholders – the pupils, their parents, and external support services – to identify alternative ways to promote participation and learning of pupils with disabilities in regular schools.

Farrell P., Balshaw, M., & Polat, F.] (2000). The work of learning support assistants in mainstream schools: Implications for school psychologists. Educational and Child Psychology, 17(2), 66-76.

This study was conducted in the UK to: (1) “obtain the views of a range of stakeholders, including parents, teachers, senior staff in schools and LEAs, pupil and LSA’s (learning support assistants), about their [LSAs] roles in schools, they ways they are managed and supported, career structures and training opportunities;” (p. 67) and (2) “To conduct a nationwide survey of training providers – mainly colleges of further education and LEAs – to obtain an overview of the range of training opportunities that are currently on offer and to seek the views of providers about current and future developments in training.” (p. 68). Semi-structured interviews (mostly individual; some focus groups) were conducted in 21 sites including: (a) 4 LEA support services; (b) 12 mainstream schools (6 primary, 6 secondary); © three special schools; and (d) 2 schools/services maintained by voluntary organizations. The following numbers of individuals participated in interviews: 147 learning support assistants (LSAs), 113 teachers, 47 pupils, 34 parents, 29 special educators, 19 head teachers, four heads of support services, nine school governors. Information was collected on 339 courses being offered. An average of 67% of training providers returned questionnaires (the number of respondents is not specified).

Fedlman, E.K., & Matos, R. (2012). Training paraprofessionals to facilitate social interactions between children with autism and their typically developing peers. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions. 15(3) 169–179

Fisher, M. & Pleasants, S. (2012). Roles, responsibilities, and concerns of paraeducators: Findings from a statewide survey. Remedial and Special Education, 33, 287-297.

The purpose of this survey study was to obtain descriptive information about job situations of special education paraeducators from paraeducators across one state and determine their perceptions regarding roles, current issues identified in the literature, and other issues of concern. Of particular interest was whether perceptions varied based on (a) paraeducator assignment (one-to-one or group) or (b) time in general education settings. More than 1,800 paraeducators responded. Findings supported previous studies based on smaller samples. Problematic issues previously associated with one-to-one paraeducators in general education settings were reported as concerns by both one-to-one and group paraeducators who spent all or most of their day in self-contained settings. Discussion centers on the importance of “paraeducator voice” in efforts to address broader issues of inclusive schooling, clarification of paraeducators as instructional team members, and better understandings situated in practice of the paraeducator role as an effective intervention alternative sometimes for students with individualized education programs.

French N. K. (2003). Paraeducators in special education programs. Focus on Exceptional Children, 36(2), 1-16.

Presents information on the use of paraeducators or paraprofessionals in special education programs. Factors which contribute to the use of paraeducators in special education; Cases which showed the effectiveness of paraeducators; Recommendations on improving paraeducator effectiveness in schools; Web sites which offer information on improving practices and policies regarding paraeducators.

Fried, L., Konza, D., & Mulcahy, P. (2012). Paraprofessionals implementing a research-based reading intervention. Australian Jouranl of Learning Difficulties, 17(1), 35-54.

In many schools in Australia students often begin their primary years with limited preparation for reading. “All hands on deck” are required to ensure the best possible student success rate for learning to read. In this project, Education Assistants, often under-utilised in schools, were used to implement a reading intervention to struggling readers in years one to three. Education Assistants were trained to withdraw students in small groups and engage students in an explicit, systematic early reading program. The intervention was implemented in a cognitively and emotionally supportive manner and the Education Assistants were trained using autonomy support, collaboration and reflection. Results showed encouraging growth in reading skills for all student age groups compared to the rest of the class. The Education Assistants responded well to the initial and ongoing training processes, refining their teaching skills and the intervention over the period. (Contains 11 figures and 5 tables.)

Frith G. H. (1982). The role of the special education paraprofessional: An introductory text. Colombus, OH: Charles C. Thomas.

Giangreco, M. F., Doyle, M. B. (2015). Italy presses forward in educating students with learning disabilities. The Phi Delta Kappan, 97(3), 23-28.

Inclusive educational opportunities in Italy are bolstered by classifying fewer students as disabled and by the expectation that classroom teachers will be supported to assume ownership for their instruction.

Giangreco, M. F., Doyle, M. B., & Suter, J. C. (2014). Teacher assistants in inclusive classrooms. In L. Florian (Ed.), The SAGE handbook of special education (2nd ed., pp. 691-702). London: Sage.

Giangreco M. F. Suter, J. C., & Hurley, S. M. (2014). Revisiting personnel utilization in inclusion-oriented schools. Journal of Special Education.

Implementing research-based curricula and instruction in inclusion-oriented schools is helped or hindered by having coherent models of service delivery accounting for the full range of student diversity. The current investigation offers data from 174 participants in 32 schools, analyzed using descriptive statistics, correlation, and hierarchical linear modeling (HLM). The findings offer replication of special education service delivery data from an earlier study, new descriptive data, and HLManalyses that identify special educator school density (the number of special educator full-time equivalents to total school population) and individual special educators’ Individualized Education Program (IEP) caseload size as variables predictive of special educators’ ratings of the conduciveness of their working conditions to providing effective special education for students on IEPs.

Giangreco M. F. (2010). One-to-one paraprofessionals for students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms: Is conventional wisdom wrong? Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities, 48(1), 1-13.

Assigning one-to-one paraprofessionals has become an increasingly common response to support students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities in general education classrooms. This article challenges the conventional wisdom that such an approach to service provision is necessarily a desirable and supportive action. Five main reasons are presented that challenge over reliance on the use of one-to-one paraprofessionals in inclusive classrooms, establishing it as a critical issue in special education. A series of recommended positions and initial actions are offered to spur debate and encourage development of alternatives to the status quo.

Giangreco M. F. (2009). Critical issues brief: Concerns about the proliferation of one-to-one paraprofessionals. Arlington, VA: Council for Exceptional Children, Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities.

As more students with autism, intellectual disabilities, and other developmental disabilities are placed in general education classes, an increasingly common practice is to assign these students one-to-one paraprofessionals as a primary support mechanism. Though offered with benevolent intentions, inappropriate reliance on one-to-one paraprofessionals has been identified a practice fraught with limitations (Giangreco, Yuan, McKenzie, Cameron, & Fialka, 2005). As such it warrants closer scrutiny as a critical issue in special education for at least four key reasons. Overreliance on one-to-one paraprofessionals: (a) is conceptually questionable, (b) may be an unduly restrictive support, (c) is associated with a host of inadvertent detrimental effects, and (d) is exacerbated by insufficient approaches for decision-making. Given the concerns associated with the utilization of one-one paraprofessionals, there are a number of steps school personnel can take to mitigate the problems and provide appropriate supports for students with disabilities who are placed in general education settings: (1) Utilize existing paraprofessionals in responsible ways; (2) Facilitate peer interactions and other natural supports; (3) Involve students with disabilities in making decisions about their own supports; (4) Explore less restrictive alternatives to using one-to-one paraprofessionals; (5) Explore ways to fade one-to-one supports; (6) Have a process for making decisions about one-to-one paraprofessional supports; and (7) Schools can consider systems-level alternatives to overreliance on paraprofessionals.

Giangreco M. F. Hurley, S. M., & Suter, J.C. (2009). Personnel utilization and general class placement of students with disabilities: Ranges and ratios. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 47(1), 53-56.

As of 2006 (U.S. Department of Education, 2006a), approximately six million U.S. students with disabilities (Ages 6–21) were being served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA). Approximately 54% had their primary placement (80% of the time or more) in general education classes (U.S. Department of Education, 2006b). Although this represented a 21% increase since 1990 (see Figure 1), variability across states remained wide, ranging from under 10% in Virginia to nearly 78% in North Dakota. Variability across disability categories was similarly wide. For example, over 84% of students identified with speech or language impairments had their primary placement in general education classes, whereas less than 16% with intellectual disabilities (labeled by the federal government as mental retardation) had primary placements in general education.

Giangreco M.F. Broer, S.M. (2007). School-based screening to determine overreliance on paraprofessionals. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 22(3), 149-158.

This article describes the development of and directions for using a 16-item screening tool designed to assist crossstakeholder school teams in determining the extent to which they may be overreliant on special education paraprofessionals or using them inappropriately. The content of the tool is based on contemporary, descriptive research regarding paraprofessionals in inclusive schools. Additionally, the article describes the field-testing of the screening tool in 27 schools (Grades K–12) in six states. Findings suggest that all 16 screening items represent substantial concerns that interfere with the delivery of high-quality inclusive schooling. Implications for practice are discussed.

Giangreco M.F. & Doyle, M.B. (2007). Teacher assistants in inclusive schools. In L. Florian (Ed.), The SAGE handbook of special education (pp. 429-439). London: Sage. Depending on what country you live in, the personnel hired by schools to assist classroom teachers and special educators in their efforts to educate students with disabilities are known by a variety of names such as teaching assistant, learning support assistant (LSA), teacher aide, paraprofessional, paraeducator, and special needs assistant” (SNA). In this chapter we purposely rise the title, teacher assistant rather than teaching assistant, because in all the cases we identified around the world these individuals assist teachers, though not always with teaching.

Giangreco M.F. Smith, C.S., & Pinckney, E. (2006). Addressing the paraprofessional dilemma in an inclusive school: A program description. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 31(3). 215-229.

Many schools have increased their use of paraprofessionals as a primary mechanism to include more students with various disabilities in general education classes. Although intended to be supportive, service delivery that relies extensively on paraprofessionals has resulted in a host of challenges for public schools and questionable services for students with disabilities. This article offers an in-depth description of one elementary school over a 3-year period. It chronicles the school’s use of an action planning tool to pursue alternatives to overreliance on paraprofessionals as well as service delivery and financial changes that occurred as a result of the school’s actions. The impact of the actions the school implemented and intended next steps offer authentic perspectives for schools facing similar challenges as they seek to extend inclusive schooling opportunities.

Giangreco M.F. & Doyle, M.B. (2004). Directing paraprofessional work. In C. Kennedy & E. Horn (Eds.), Including students with severe disabilities, (pp. 185-204). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Giangreco M.F. Halvorsen, A., Doyle, M.B., & Broer, S.M. (2004). Alternatives to overreliance on paraprofessionals in inclusive schools. Journal of Special Education Leadership, 17(2), 82-90.

Though the utilization of special education paraprofessionals has increased, contemporary literature and research highlight a series of concerns about the field’s continuing reliance on this approach. This article presents a three-component administrative model for effective utilization of paraprofessionals that includes paraprofessional supports, decision-making, and alternatives. The bulk of the article provides composite descriptions about seven alternatives to overreliance on paraprofessionals based on reports from school personnel who have implemented these alternatives. School leaders are encouraged to explore alternatives to overreliance on paraprofessionals as a way to improve their special education service delivery to meet the educational needs of students with a full range of disabilities within the context of general education classrooms.

Giangreco M. F. Suter, J. C., & Doyle, M. B. (2010). Paraprofessionals in inclusive schools: A review of recent research. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 20, 41-57.

Effective collaboration with paraprofessionals is an important and growing aspect of providing special education services in inclusive schools. We reviewed recent research on special education paraprofessional issues and practices in U.S. schools between 2000 and 2007. Major findings of 32 identified studies were summarized in 9 topical categories: (a) hiring and retention of paraprofessionals, (b) training, (c) roles and responsibilities, (d) respect and acknowledgment, (e) interactions of paraprofessionals with students and staff, (f) supervision, (g) students’ perspectives on paraprofessional supports, (h) school change, and (i) alternatives to the use paraprofessionals. Implications and future directions are offered, including those focusing on clarifying the collaborative relationships among paraprofessionals and other educational team members. 

Giangreco, M. F., Doyle, M. B., & Suter, J. C. (2012). Constructively responding to requests for paraprofessionals: We keep asking the wrong questions. Remedial and Special Education, 33(6), 362-373.

Paraprofessional utilization has steadily risen in an effort to meet the needs of students with disabilities in inclusion-oriented classrooms. To date, no widely accepted processes exist to assist schools in determining when the use of paraprofessional staff is warranted. Many schools have attempted to fill this void by developing local processes designed to justify paraprofessional assignment. This article describes how justification approaches to paraprofessional decision making operate from a reactive posture, include inherently problematic criteria, and perpetuate socially constructed myths that certain students need one-to-one paraprofessionals. An alternative framework for making decisions is offered through a series of school/district- and classroom/team-level concepts and corresponding actions that can be pursued in developing proactive processes and practices tailored to local contexts.

Giangreco, M. F. (2013). Teacher assistant supports in inclusive schools: Research, practices and alternatives. Australasian Journal of Special Edcuation, 37(2), 93-106.

In this article, I summarise the primary content included in a keynote address I delivered via videoconferencing in July 2012 at the national conference of the Australian Association of Special Education, held jointly with the annual conference of the Tasmanian Principals Association in Hobart, Tasmania. The address focused on three major topics pertaining to the utilisation of teacher assistants in inclusive schools: (a) persistent and emerging research trends, (b) contemporary conceptual and data-based concerns, and (c) ideas about what schools can do to provide improved educational opportunities and supports for students with special educational needs in inclusive classrooms. The article concludes that the potential overuse or misuse of teacher assistants is a symptom, not cause. Building integrated models of general and special service delivery in schools can address the challenges associated with questionable teacher assistant utilisation.

Giangreco, M. F., Doyle, M. B., & Suter, J. C. (2014). Teacher assistants in inclusive classrooms. In L. Florian (Ed.), The SAGE handbook of special education (2nd ed., pp. 691-702). London: Sage.

As schools around the world seek to provide inclusive educational opportunities for students with disabilities and other special educational needs, a common response has been to assign teacher assistants (TAs) to provide support. In this chapter, we purposely use the term teacher assistants rather than teaching assistants, because in all the cases we identified around the world, these individuals who are known by a variety of names (e.g., learning support assistants, paraprofessionals, teacher aides), always assist teachers, though not exclusively or necessarily with teaching. Although benevolently intended, providing TA support for students with disabilities has raised a variety of concerns about their utilization and has resulted in a large volume of literature. The purpose of this chapter is to summarize  a selected subset of peer-reviewed studies primarily about school-age students with disabilities in general education classrooms published between 2005 and 2012. Although the majority of studies emanate from the United States and the United Kingdom, research also is included from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Iceland, Ireland, Finland, and New Zealand. Although it is beyond the scope of this chapter to provide detailed explanations of the various educational service across the globe. For example, the United States relies on special education teachers in inclusive schools, whereas the UK utilizes the role of SENCO (Special Education Needs Coordinator); while these roles share the same common elements, they are not equivalent. Additionally, a broader international perspective is provided in brief statements from colleagues offering a glimpse of TA practices in 11 countries (see Table 40.1). This chapter is divided into four main sections. First, we summarize research findings covering longstanding issues well established in earlier studies that remain persistent concerns (e.g., role clarification, training, supervision). Second, we present research that extends more recently initiated lines of inquiry (e.g., effects of proximity, student voice, models of deployment). Third, we highlight research about emerging subtopics where scant data or conceptualizations previously existed (i.e., TA support and academic achievement, alternatives to inappropriate overreliance on TAs). We conclude with implications for practice in inclusive schools and future research.

Giangreco, M. F. & Hoza, B. (August 2013). Are paraprofessional supports helpful? Attention, 20,(4), 22-25.

Giangreco, M. F., Suter, J. C., & Hurley, S. M. (2013). Revisiting personnel utilization in inclusion-oriented schools. Journal of Special Education. 47(2) 121-132.

Implementing research-based curricula and instruction in inclusion-oriented schools is helped or hindered by having coherent models of service delivery accounting for the full range of student diversity. The current investigation offers data from 174 participants in 32 schools, analyzed using descriptive statistics, correlation, and hierarchical linear modeling (HLM). The findings offer replication of special education service delivery data from an earlier study, new descriptive data, and HLM analyses that identify special educator school density (the number of special educator full-time equivalents to total school population) and individual special educators’ Individualized Education Program (IEP) caseload size as variables predictive of special educators’ ratings of the conduciveness of their working conditions to providing effective special education for students on IEPs.

Graves, S. (2012). Chameleon or chimera? The role of the higher level teaching assistant (HLTA) in a remodelled workforce in English schools. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 41(1), 94-105.

This article draws on research conducted with HLTAs in the North-West of England over two years and is located in the context of workforce remodelling. The respondents have presented a picture of a role which is developing outside the hegemonic discourse of rationality, testing, accountability and performativity within which the teacher role is being developed. In contrast, they suggest the role of HLTA is developing in an extemporized, contextually contingent manner, based on perceived local priorities and defined predominantly in relation to the disaggregation of the teacher role. This article argues that this situation puts HLTAs at the periphery of current policy and, while offering them some resistance to constraining discourses, ultimately places them at a disadvantage in terms of development of their professional identity. Furthermore, this situation presents a challenge to teachers’ professional status and to educational managers and leaders in terms of developing a coherent school workforce.

Hadadian A. & Yssel, N. (1998). Changing roles of paraeducators in early childhood special education. Infant-Toddler Intervention, 8(1), 1-9.

Analysis of survey responses of 70 paraeducators working in early-childhood settings found paraeductors engaged in 30 different tasks of instructional and/or clerical nature, yet only 30% had received training. Data support other findings indicating a lack of adequate training, few opportunities for career advancement, low wages, and poorly defined job descriptions. Recommendations for changes are offered.

Hammeken P. (2009). The paraprofessional’s essential guide to inclusive education (3rd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

“The Paraprofessional’s Essential Guide to Inclusive Education, Third Edition” is a practical, hands-on resource for use in the classroom or resource room setting. Although the focus is students with special needs, many of the strategies are appropriate for general education students who are struggling in school and may need additional support to experience success in the classroom. The hundreds of numbered strategies in this publication are divided by topic. The numbering system helps the user to document the strategies, along with t (he results. It simplifies record keeping and supports the documentation of student progress. With hundreds of easy to implement ideas at your fingertips, this book will make your job easier. The Appendix includes forms to help with communication, planning, documentation, supplemental student aids, and more.

Harris B.A. (2011). Effects of the proximity of paraeducators on the interactions of Braille readers in inclusive settings. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 105(8), 467-478.

This article reports on a multiple–case study that found a relationship between the proximity of paraeducators and the interactions of students with visual impairments with teachers and sighted students in general education classrooms. More interactions were found with teachers and peers in the classrooms when paraeducators were physically distant from the students. The findings have implications for addressing the roles of and training for paraeducators.

Healy C. (2011, Winter). One-to-one in the inclusive classroom: The perspectives of paraeducators who support adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Special Education Professionals, ,pp. 77-92.

In public schools nationwide, students categorized with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have traditionally been removed from the general education setting, where they were taught in isolation by special education personnel. More recently, research on the learning needs of students with ASD has suggested the importance of including them along side their peers. As a result, these students and their paraeducators have entered the classrooms of content area teachers. The context can create challenges for the paraeducator and their special education supervisor who has authority for their training and supervision. This study examined five paraeducators employed in a single high school as they enter general education classrooms to support the particular students they are assigned. Participants discussed the need to understand the full range of behavioral manifestations of autism as a starting point for their work. Once participants acknowledged their student’s differences, however, they identified the instructional context their students needed in order to succeed in the inclusive classroom setting.

Hendrix N.M., Vancel, S.M., Wise, S., Kang, S. (2018). Paraprofessional support and perceptions of a function-based classroom intervention. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 62(3), 214-228.

Paraprofessionals carry out behavior interventions for students with challenging behavior in inclusive classroom settings. Examination of paraprofessional involvement in behavior interventions informs how paraprofessionals may best support intervention implementation. The researchers used a withdrawal design to evaluate the effects of a multiple-component intervention primarily conducted by paraprofessionals in decreasing one sixth-grade student’s disruptive behavior. They then used a systematic approach to functional behavior assessment to identify the function of the student’s behavior and to design an intervention, which was tested using a single-subject design. Results demonstrated a functional relation between the student’s disruptive behavior and intervention. Further, the paraprofessionals and classroom teacher regarded the intervention as favorable, suggesting the intervention was feasible and suitable for the student. Discussion includes implications for practice and future research.

Jardi, A., Puigdellivol, I., Petrenas, C. (2018). Teacher assistants’ roles in Catalan classrooms: promoting fair and inclusion-oriented support for all. International Journal of Inclusive Education, DOI: 10.1080/13603116.2018.1545876.

A critical aspect of inclusive policies and practices is the role that Teacher Assistants (TAs) are supposed to assume within mainstream classrooms. Despite the evidence, TAs are still linked to the most vulnerable children, especially those with severe afflictions. This exploratory mixed method of investigation analyses the differences between the job requirements standardised by the Catalan Government (Spain), the roles the TAs believed they had been hired to perform and the tasks they were really carrying out in their schools. It includes teacher and union representative experiences to obtain a more holistic view of current practices. This article provides TAs’ experiences in the Catalan context as well as an analysis of the legal framework on the matter; to better understand these agents, putting emphasis on inclusive practices. According to standards, only one type of TA should give educational support, the others should merely assist. The findings highlight the importance of real and coherent inclusion-oriented TA roles. This places the TA as a key member of a support network maximising all learning opportunities.

Jones K.H., & Bender, W.N. (1993). Utilization of paraprofessionals in special education: A review of the literature. Remedial and Special Education, 14, 7-14.

This article is a literature review that concludes that the efficacy of paraeducator services has only been studied “indirectly” in terms of teacher satisfaction with paraeducators’ performance, rather than in terms measurable in student outcomes in classrooms. The authors suggest four variables could be examined: (1) student; outcomes (2) satisfaction of professionals who work with paraeducators; (3) satisfaction of paraeducators themselves; and (4) improved working conditions of professionals when paraeducators are employed.

Keating, S. & O’Connor, U. (2012). The shifting roles of the special needs assistant in Ireland: A time for change? European journal of Special Needs Education, DOI:10.1080/08856257.2012.711960

The education of pupils with special educational needs in Ireland has generally been influenced by national and international inclusion policy and legislation so that the majority of these children now take their place alongside peers in mainstream classrooms. In Ireland, a support network comprising the teacher and additional classroom assistance now characterises much inclusive school provision. Such support is often provided via learning support teachers, resource teachers and special needs assistants (SNAs), the latter group being the focus of this article. Whilst the professional credentials of this post have evolved in other jurisdictions, the position of the SNA in Ireland has remained largely unchanged, with a job specification that continues to emphasise its caring, non-teaching nature. This article will consider the juxtaposition of the statutory functions of SNAs with their reported role(s) in Irish classrooms. Using quantitative and qualitative data, it will explore the professional profile of the SNA, identify current perceptions on the nature of this post and consider its collaborative potential within an inclusive education system.

Knight V.F., Kuntz, E.M. & Brown, M. (2018). Paraprofessional-delivered video prompting to teach academics to students with severe disabilities in inclusive settings. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(6), 2203-2216.

Video prompting is effective for teaching a variety of skills (e.g., daily living, communication) to students with autism and intellectual disability; yet, little research exists on the efficacy of these strategies on academic skills, in inclusive settings, and with typical intervention agents. Authors collaborated with paraprofessionals to select socially important academic skills (i.e., literacy, social studies, science, and math) aligned with students’ IEPs and content taught in their inclusive classes. Results from the multiple probe across participants and skills design indicated a functional relation between the paraprofessional-delivered video prompting and correct responding to academic tasks for all three elementary students with autism and intellectual disability. Implications for practitioners, study limitations, and recommendations for future research are discussed.

Konza, D. & Fried, L. (2012). Maximizing the contribution of paraprofessionals in schools: A win-win-win story. The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 6(9), 115-123.

Paraprofessionals are used in a variety of ways in schools, but in many cases their contribution is limited to resource management or helping a struggling student “finish something off” in a small group or individual session. This paper will report on a project in which a university mentor worked with four paraprofessionals to support small groups of junior primary students who were struggling with basic literacy acquisition. They were taught to use “scripts” to move through carefully sequenced lessons, and to monitor student progress on a daily basis. The students made significant progress throughout the year, but the personal and professional stories of the paraprofessionals surprised all involved. This paper will focus on their stories as they grew in both skills and confidence. There was also wide recognition of their important contribution to the school by the staff and principal. Recommendations to maximize the input of these important members of the school community conclude the paper.

Kraft, C. N., & Slater, A. E. (2009). One-to-one aides for students with autism: A practical and legal guide. Horsham, PA: LPR Publications.

While a one-to-one aide may help some children with autism, it also raises questions: Does the child need one-to-one assistance to receive FAPE? Do the parents have a say in the district’s choice of aide?

Get all the guidance you need in this resource, combining explanations of your district’s legal requirements, case summaries and valuable compliance strategies — so you can minimize the potential for IDEA litigation as you:

  • Determine whether the use of an aide is necessary and appropriate for a child 
  • Communicate with parents about sensitive issues and foster positive relationships 
  • Select a qualified aide and handle parents’ requests for a specific aide 
  • Ensure that aides promote growth rather than dependence 
  • Prepare for the reduction or termination of an aide’s services 

Lane, K., Carter, E. & Sisco, L. (2012). Paraprofessional involvement in self-determination instruction for students with high-incidence disabilities. Exceptional Children, 78(2), 237-251.

Although enhancing students’ self-determination is advocated as a central element of high-quality special education and transition services, little is known about the ways in which paraprofessionals are involved in promoting self-determination or the extent to which they share teachers’ views regarding its importance. The authors surveyed 223 paraprofessionals from 115 randomly selected public schools to examine their perspectives on promoting self-determination among students with high-incidence disabilities. Overall, paraprofessionals attributed high levels of importance to each of the 7 component elements of self-determination (i.e., choice making, decision making, problem solving, goal setting and attainment, self-advocacy and leadership, self-management and self-regulation, and self-awareness and self-knowledge). The extent to which paraprofessionals reported providing instruction addressing each of the 7 components of self-determination was moderate, with average ratings all slightly above the midpoint of the scale. This article presents implications for the involvement of paraprofessionals in supporting the development of self-determination among students with high-incidence disabilities, along with recommendations for future research

Lawlor L., & Cregan, A. (2003). The evolving role of the special needs assistant: Towards a new synergy. REACH Journal of Special Needs Education in Ireland, 16(2), 82-93.

The post of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) is now an integral part of the Irish educational system. This paper presents findings from an investigation into the evolving role of the special needs assistant from an ‘extra pair of hands’ to a learning support person in the classroom. This role has evolved without clear definition, adequate preparation, specific training or appropriate induction. Its future success is very dependent on a generous enthusiastic and professional response from all parties - SNAs, teachers, principals, Boards of Management and the Department of Education and Science. From the context of developments abroad, through an examination of developments in Ireland, findings from this research offer suggestions for the successful integration of the special needs assistant for the mutual benefit of all parties involved.

Lehane, T. (2015). Cooling the mark out: Experienced teaching assistants perceptions of their work in the inclusion of pupils with special educational needs in mainstream secondary schools, Educational Review, 68(1), 4-23.

Experienced teaching assistants’ (TAs’) perceptions and constructions of their work in the inclusion of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) within mainstream secondary schools are the focus of this study. In a field where much research has focussed on the technicist (TA characteristics and deployment), exploration of “inclusion” and of power relationships is prioritised. Elements of critical discourse analysis (CDA) are used to examine the words of TAs talking about their work. A simple CDA framework was produced, based on the work of others, piloted, and then used to analyse interview data from eight TAs who have extensive experience and degree qualifications. TAs report prioritising discretion, even imperceptibility, in class as they actively stay “under the radar” of teachers and schools. A divide within the mainstream schools between “the mainstream” and SEN resourced “base” seems apparent to the TAs, whether the support base is geographically separated or not. “Inclusion” is actively sought, for example through advocacy, alternative provision and energetic deployment of professional strategies. Insights from the work of Goffman are deployed in the analysis of the TAs’ perceptions in order to contribute theoretical imagination to consider why the limitations in TA practice (reported within this study and within the wider literature) may occur. A degree of emotional labour is indicated but Goffman’s work on managing spoiled identity, stigma and “cooling” is of interest in offering possible explanations for the TAs’ experiences.

Lim, S. M-Y, Wong, M. E., & Denise Tan, D. (2013). Allied educators (learning and behavioural support) in Singapore’s mainstream schools: first steps towards inclusivity?, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 18(2), 123-139.

It is arguable whether Singapore’s mainstream schools are moving towards ‘inclusion’ by providing support for students with mild to moderate disabilities through the provision of a newly created para-professional called the Allied Educators (Learning and Behavioural) [AED(LBS)]. Since 2005, the government has provided an incremental supply of these trained para-professionals to offer both in-class support and withdrawal sessions. Many primary and secondary schools have one such para-professional catering to an unpredictable number of children with and without assessed learning needs. This paper draws upon data from a study investigating how a group of 30 newly qualified AED(LBS) para-professionals shaped their professional role during their first year in school. Data were generated through an online survey, interviews; and analysed through theories on identity and communities of practice. Findings focus on how the participants had learned to grow into their roles despite contradictory expectations; how they learn to work with student diversity they had never encountered; and how schools should be learning communities to embrace and include the new AED(LBS). The paper discusses the need to define ‘inclusivity’ and the need for the education system to become more professionally inclusive towards AED(LBS).

Lindsey J. D. (1983). Paraprofessionals in learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 16, 476-472.

The purpose of this manuscript is to generate information about the paraprofessional concept as it relates to learning disabilities. A brief review of the paraprofessional literature is reported. The possible roles and responsibilities that could be included in a paraprofessionals job description were delineated and discussed. A structured, comprehensive, and flexible approach that LEA’s could use to implement the concept was proposed. And the problems that are “inherent” in the paraprofessional concept were identified and possible strategies to eliminate or prevent these difficulties were suggested.

Liston, A. G., Nevin, A., & Malian, I. (2009). What do paraeducators in inclusive classrooms say about their work? Analysis of national survey data and follow-up interviews in California. TEACHING Exceptional Children Plus, 5(5).

What advice do paraeducators offer regarding the work they do in inclusive classrooms? What barriers and benefits do paraeducators face? In this study, over 200 paraeducators from 38 different states in the USA volunteered to respond to a national survey. Their responses were corroborated in follow-up interviews with 27 different paraeducators at five California school sites in San Diego County. Recommendations for professional development are offered.

Lushen, K., Kim, O., & Reid, R. (2012). Paraeducator-led strategy instruction for struggling writers. Exceptionality, 20(4), 250-265.

Paraeducators are an integral part of instruction in public schools. This study used a multiple baseline across participants design to investigate the ability of a paraeducator to deliver Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) instruction in narrative writing. The paraeducator taught the POW + WWW, What = 2, How = 2–story writing strategy to three struggling fourth-grade writers. After receiving the paraeducator-led SRSD instruction, the stories of the struggling writers became more complete, qualitatively better, and longer on average. The paraeducator was able to deliver instruction with a high degree of fidelity. Limitations of the study and implications for practice are discussed

Maggin, D. M., Fallon, L. M., Hargermoser 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.

Malian, I. M. (2011). Paraeducators perceptions of their roles in inclusive classrooms: a national study of paraeducators. Electronic Journal for Inclusive Education, 2(8).

With increased mandates for providing FAPE, districts are employing paraprofessionals specifically paraeducators to assist in special education as well as inclusive classrooms. A National Survey was conducted to ascertain paraeducators perceptions regarding their roles with inclusive classes, collaboration with general and special education teachers, responsibilities within the classroom regarding instruction and other management of the daily routines, their beliefs about teaching and training needs. Respondent included 202 paraprofessionals from 34 states with varying degrees of experience and training. Overall, paraprofessionals were positive about their roles in the classroom and the impact of their work with students with disabilities. More time for collaboration with teachers and additional targeted training in disabilities, behavior management and law were expressed as professional development areas.

Margerison A. (1997). Class teachers and the role of classroom assistants in the delivery of special educational needs. Support for Learning, 12(4), 166-169.

In this article Andy Margerison explores the difficulties facing special educational needs coordinators and classroom teachers in designing and delivering effective and accurate individual education plans within existing financial resources through the Code of Practice and suggests that, given appropriate training, classroom assistants could have a greatly enhanced role to play in the process.

Marks S., Schrader, C., & Levine, M. (1999). Paraeducator experiences in inclusive settings: Helping, hovering, or holding their own? Exceptional Children, 65, 315-328.

This study used in interviews with paraeducators to reveal intuitive home-grown attitudes about their roles, in the absence of role specification. Paraeducators believe it is their job to keep students with disabilities from bothering regular education teachers. They further believe that they are responsible for all aspects of a child’s education, that they have to create all modifications and adaptations for the child, and that they are responsible totally for the child.

Mazurik-Charles R. & Stefanou, C. (2010). Using paraprofessionals to teach social skills to children with autism spectrum disorders in the general education classroom. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 37(2), 161-169.

This study is an investigation of whether social skills training provided by paraprofessionals to elementary grade children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in both partially and fully included classrooms can result in perceived gains in social skills as measured by teacher ratings. Results showed that several areas of social responsiveness noticeably improved as a result of the intervention in the short run; however, sustained improvement was difficult to detect. This study extends the research on the development of social skills among children with ASD by examining perceptions of social responsiveness rather than noting how often the children engaged in prosocial behaviors. It further extends the research by studying the efficacy of using U^ained paraprofessionals to deliver the intervention inconspicuously in the child’s general education classroom.

McCulloch, E. B., & Noonan, M.L. (2013). Impact of online training videos on the implementation of mand training by three elementary school paraprofessionals, Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 48(1), 1-15.

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. - See more at:

McNaughton, D., Light, J., (2019). Building capacity in AAC: A person-centred approach to supporting participation by people with complex communication needs. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, DOI: 10.1080/07434618.2018.1556731.

Effective communication is based both on the capacity of the person with complex communication needs, and of other key stakeholders (including communication and education professionals, family members, community partners, and healthcare professionals), to ensure that appropriate AAC supports are provided. In this paper, we describe strategies to build awareness of AAC and to assist people with complex communication needs in obtaining needed services; to build the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of AAC service providers; to provide instruction for people with complex communication needs, as well as communication partners and advocates; and to develop communication supports in society more broadly. We also provide an agenda for building capacity in research and development activities to support full participation by people with complex communication needs throughout society.

Merry, M. S. (2019). Do inclusion policies deliver educational justice for children with autism? An ethical analysis. Journal of School Choice, DOI: 10.1080/15582159.2019.1644126.

In this essay I ask what educational justice might require for children with autism in educational settings where “inclusion” entails not only meaningful access, but also where the educational setting is able to facilitate a sense of belonging and further is conducive to well-being. I argue when we attempt to answer the question “do inclusion policies deliver educational justice?” that we pay close attention to the specific dimensions of well-being for children with autism. Whatever the specifics of individual cases, both an attitude and policy of inclusion must permit parents to choose pragmatic alternatives, i.e., different learning environments, if educational justice is to remain the overriding goal.

Milley, A. & Machalicek, W. (2012). Decreasing students’ reliance on adults: A strategic guide for teachers of students with autism spectrum disorders. Intervention in School and Clinic, 48(2), 67-75.

Students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) often lack independent task initiation skills, have difficulty staying actively engaged in academic tasks, and may require prompting to complete and transition between tasks or activities. In response to these difficulties, teachers often provide additional attention to students in the form of frequent verbal prompts and individual support. Unfortunately, these instructional strategies may have negative academic and social implications as students become dependent on adults for prompts and social supports. This article highlights the importance of fostering student independence for students with ASD and presents three evidence-based strategies to improve student task engagement and decrease reliance on adult prompts: activity schedules, tactile prompting, and peer support interventions.

Minondo S., Meyer, L.H., & Xin, J.F. (2001). The role and responsibilities of teaching assistants in inclusive education: What’s appropriate. The Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 26, 114-119.

This study describes a social validation of appropriate roles and responsibilities for teaching assistants (TAs) in inclusive classrooms using a self-report survey completed by general education teachers, special education teachers, and TAs. Factor analysis suggested five major role components including: instruction, school support, liaison, personal support, and one-to-one in-class support. The need to clarify TA job expectations is stressed. (Contains references.) (Author/DB)

Monzo L.D. Rueda, R (2003). Shaping education through diverse funds of knowledge: a look at one Latina paraeducator’s lived experiences, beliefs, and teaching practice. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 34(1), 72-95.

We examine the experiences of one Mexican immigrant paraeducator and how these translate into beliefs and teaching. Generally, the concept of “funds ofknowledge” has been used with respect to students. We use this concept more broadly to consider the experiences of teachers as critical to their teaching and as resources for instruction. This paraeducator had markedly different experiences from those of the mainstream teaching force yet numerous factors mitigated against using these for instruction. Our work documents how the multiple sociocultural contexts of teachers’ lives and their later beliefs and practices interact in particular institutional settings to impact teaching practices. Increased attention to the study of teachers’ cultural beliefs and practices has important implications for the study of schooling and teacher education.

Morrison, H., Gleddie, D. (2019). Interpretive case studies of inclusive physical education: shared experiences from diverse school settings. International Journal of Inclusive Education, DOI: 10.1080/13603116.2018.1557751.

To the authors’ knowledge, the research reported in inclusive physical education (IPE) literature is limited to exploring teachers’ and educational assistants’ (EAs) experiences working together in a joint classroom environment. Teachers’ and EAs’ experiences can be misunderstood when their stories are not heard in context, together, or compared to other stories and situations. This hermeneutical and interpretive research involved learning about IPE experiences from three diverse cases, which involved three inservice teachers and three EAs. Data gathered included class observations, interviews, focus groups, and reflective journals. The information learned through these processes was analysed to develop themes. The findings highlight three issues: how teachers’ and EAs’ training and background education, along with their practical experiences and support from EAs, contribute to the implementation of IPE; how teachers’ and EAs’ past physical education experiences and current engagement with physical activity impact their teaching/assisting in IPE; and how the planning and choice of activities influences student participation in IPE. Overall, experiences of IPE are dependent on past experiences, education/training, and IPE situations. To improve IPE implementation, teachers and EAs need practical and contextual professional development (PD) that considers activities that are appropriate for their prior knowledge and experience and for theirstudents.

Mortier K., Desimpel, L., De Schauwer, E., & Van Hove, G. (2011). “I want support, not comments”: Children’s perspectives on supports in their life, Disability & Society, 26: 207-221.

Even though supports are a major part of the daily lives of children with special educational needs who participate in general education schools, little attention has been paid to how children experience supports. Six children and their peers who were interviewed appreciated supports because they remove restrictions in activities due to the impairment. However, their experiences also show how these positive supports can have negative psycho‐emotional repercussions, and are less focused on addressing disabling barriers. The children’s accounts demonstrate the ambiguous and situated nature of supports, and the need for the children to be able to direct supports as ‘chief partners’ in the inclusion process.

National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (1999). Learning disabilities: Use of paraprofessionals. Learning Disabilities Quarterly, 22(1), 23-30.

Since its inception, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has embodied the concept of teams of professionals, often from different disciplines, working together to meet the needs of children and youth with disabilities and their families. In recent years the team concept has expanded to include paraprofessionals as members of these teams. The term “paraprofessional” is used in IDEA [Sec. 612(a) (15) (B) (iii)]. The term paraprofessional” is used in this document as an inclusive term applying to a group of resources and job titles (see the definition of paraprofessionals on p. 3).

Orsati, F. T. & Causton-Theoharis, J. (2013). Challenging control: inclusive teachers’ and teaching assistants’ discourse on students with challenging behavior. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 17(5), 507-525.

Describing students with disabilities as presenting ‘challenging behaviour’ is common in US schools. The purpose of this paper is to reveal the discourse utilised by teachers in order to understand their beliefs and practices surrounding young students considered to present challenging behaviour. This study examines teachers’ language in four ways: which discourses they draw from, the consequences of engaging in the discourse on practice, what maintains the use of such discourse and finally the possibilities for change. The critical discourse analysis unpacked that teachers begin labelling the students as challenging, not the behaviour. Consequences of this thinking emerged as teachers excluded the students, or what they consider ‘the problems’ from the classroom. Exclusion was found to be the ‘necessary’ response when control is prioritised in the classroom. In sum, the discourse of control is available for shaping how teachers understand and support students. Developing a relationship with students empowers teachers to see past the labels, the control discourse, and truly support students in inclusive classrooms. Finally, implications for practice are shared to improve the experience of inclusive education for both student and teacher.

Page, A., Ferrett, R. (2018). Teacher aides’ views and experiences on the inclusion of students with autism: Perspectives across two countries. The International Education Journal: Comparative Perspectives Vol. 17(2), 60-76.

The human rights issue of inclusion in education has been the focus of numerous legislative and policy documents around the world. The right of a student with additional needs to access their local school and participate in mainstream classrooms has been mandated for numerous years across many nations. Increasing numbers of students with additional needs who are included in the regular classroom are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) but reports indicate the understanding of ASD students remains low. This study investigates the views and experiences of teacher aides (TAs) who support students with ASD in mainstream settings in two countries: the Cook Islands (CI) and New South Wales (NSW), Australia. The research addressed the growing international use of TAs and their roles in inclusive classrooms, and the need to understand contemporary practices from comparative global perspectives. Results indicate many similarities between TA views and experiences on the inclusion of students with ASD in NSW and the CI. The findings are discussed in terms of recommendations to enhance the efficacy and practices of TAs in supporting students with ASD in the inclusive classroom.

Pedersen S. J., Cooley, P. D., & Rottier, C. R. (2014). Physical educators’ efficacy in utilizing paraprofessionals in inclusive education. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 39(10).

Inclusion of students with disabilities (SwD) in Australian health and physical education (HPE) classes is on the rise. Reasonable adjustment to assist inclusive practice is often accomplished through the use of teaching assistants, or paraprofessionals. While this practice is commonly understood within the classroom, this approach remains obscure in the HPE setting. The purpose of this study was to explore how Australian HPE teachers utilise paraprofessionals when teaching SwD in inclusive environments. HPE teachers (N=14) completed an online questionnaire inquiring how paraprofessionals are being used and the strategies they are using to develop working relationships with paraprofessionals. The HPE teachers in our sample generally had a favourable attitudes towards the paraprofessionals they have worked with, however a lack of appropriate training and HPE curriculum knowledge were highlighted as deficient areas that may have an adverse effect on the overall HPE environment. While the paraprofessionals were recognised as providing a level of support that was generally to the satisfaction of the HPE teachers, the HPE teachers’ consistently provided areas in which the paraprofessional could improve. Strategies to foster this collaborative working relationship were also investigated, and the primary finding dealt with adequate reciprocal communication. With the move toward inclusive practice in Australian public schools this is an area that warrants further investigation so all students can benefit from a healthy and productive HPE.

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.

Riggs C.G. (2001). 20 ways to work effectively with paraeducators in inclusive settings. Intervention in School and Clinic, 37(2), 114-117.

Increasing numbers of students with a wide range of special education needs are receiving their education and special services within general education classrooms. For these students to reap the social and educational benefits of the general education setting, they may require various in-class supports. One effective means of providing support is through the employment of paraeducators. Paraeducators can provide a critical link for inclusion programs, working with individual students and assisting teachers in meeting the needs of all students. These paraeducators should be seen as participating members of the class and the instructional team. This means acknowlodging the importance of paraeducators and developing infrastructures that support their work. The following strategies may aid teachers and administrators in their efforts to include paraeducators as vital and effective inclusion team members.

Riggs C. G., & Mueller, P. H. (2001). Employment and utilization of paraeducators in inclusive settings. The Journal of Special Education, 35(1), 54-62.

This study investigated paraeducators’ (N=758) experiences in inclusive educational settings, including administrative policies, job responsibilities, training, retention, and relationships with members of the school community. Findings indicated a need for more paraeducator training and the importance of relationships within the school. Recommendations are offered for policymakers, administrators, teachers, institutions of higher education, and paraeducators.

Russel C. S., Allday, R. A., & Duhon, G. J. (2015). Effects of increasing distance of a one-on-one paraprofessional on student engagement. Education and Treatment of Children, 38(2), 193-210.

This study sought to maintain task engagement of a 4-year-old student with developmental disabilities included in a pre-K classroom while decreasing reliance of one-on-one support from a paraprofessional. To accomplish these goals, a withdrawal design (A-B-A) with a nested changing-criterion design was used to withdraw paraprofessional proximity. A cue was provided to the paraprofessional as an indicator of when to engage with and withdraw proximity from the student. Momentary time sampling procedures were used to measure task engagement during group circle time and proximity between student and paraprofessional. Results showed that task engagement was maintained at a level comparable to peers without disabilities, while proximity less than 0.9 m from the student was reduced from 95% to 18% of intervals.

Russell, A., Webster, R., & Blatchford, P. (2012). Maximizing the impact of teaching assistants: Guidance for School leaders and teachers. London: Routledge.

Teaching assistants have become an integral part of classroom life, yet pioneering research by the authors has shown that school leaders and teachers are not making the most of this valued resource. Results from the Deployment and Impact of Support Staff (DISS) project showed that the more support pupils received from teaching assistants, the less academic progress they made. Yet it is not decisions made by the teaching assistants themselves, but decisions made by school leaders and teachers about how their support staff are used and prepared, which explains these provocative results. Prompted by the wake-up call the DISS project findings provided, this timely book of guidance will help school leaders and teachers in primary and secondary schools improve the way they use teaching assistants, and will add real value to what can be achieved in the classroom. Based on the authors’ collaborative work with schools in the Effective Deployment of Teaching Assistants (EDTA) project, this book provides essential, practical tools and classroom-tested strategies that will allow schools to conduct a fundamental review of current practice and provides a framework for reforming teaching assistant deployment and preparation, and the way they interact with pupils.

Rutherford, G. (2012). In, out or somewhere in between: Disabled students’ and teacher aides’ experiences of school. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 16(8), 757-774.

Disabled students’ entry to the (compulsory) education system in New Zealand is often conditional upon the presence of untrained teacher aides, who are frequently regarded as the ‘solution to inclusion’. This widespread practice has occurred within a research and policy void, despite the growing body of international research literature that contests its efficacy and equity. Drawing from the findings of a qualitative study, the purpose of this paper is to develop an understanding of the school experiences of disabled students, from their and teacher aides’ perspectives. Interpreted within a framework of current disability, social justice and sociology of childhood theorising, the findings are presented as a continuum of educational contexts, in which students (and aides) were (1) fully included in all aspects of school, (2) partly included/assimilated in aspects of school life, and (3) excluded from regular school. The findings are consistent with those of international research in illuminating the pivotal, complex and ambiguous role that aides play in both helping and hindering disabled students’ educational presence, participation and achievement. The paper concludes with an outline of changes that may be instrumental in bringing about a more inclusive education system for all students.

Saddler, H. (2013). Researching the influence of teaching assistants on the learning of pupils identified with special educational needs in mainstream primary schools: exploring social inclusion. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 14(3), 145-152. 

As a result of their high contact time with children, particularly children identified with special educational needs, it is widely acknowledged that teaching assistants (TAs) have great influence on pupils’ education (Balshaw). However, recent research into the impact of TAs on pupils’ learning has questioned TAs’ usefulness in improving pupils’ learning (Blatchford, Bassett and Brown; Higgins). This paper argues that TAs’ influence on pupils’ education has not yet been researched effectively. Previous research has primarily focused on determining TAs’ influence on pupils’ achievement in terms of academic outcomes and has neglected to explore social outcomes. Two interconnected literature bases are reviewed in this paper; the current research exploring TAs’ role and influence on pupils’ learning is first explored, followed by a critical discussion of the literature regarding the process of social inclusion in mainstream primary schools. This paper concludes that for TAs’ influence on pupils’ learning to be effectively researched, TAs’ influence on the process of social inclusion must be researched within mainstream primary schools.

Sam, A. M., Cox, A. W., Savage, M. N., Waters, V., Odom, S. L. (2019). Disseminating information on evidence-based practices for children and youth with autism spectrum disorder: AFIRM. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 1-10,

Comprehensive reviews of the research literature have identified that focused intervention practices for children and youth with autism spectrum disorder have evidence of producing positive developmental and learning outcomes. The Autism Focused Intervention Resources and Modules (AFIRM) project has translated evidence-based practices identified by Wong et al. (Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 45(7):1951–1966, 2015) into online learning modules. The purpose of this paper is to describe (1) the process for translating the research literature into practical information that practitioners can use, (2) its dissemination through a freely accessible website, (3) the use of the modules by over 64,500 users located in the United States and abroad, (4) knowledge gained as a result of completing the modules, and (5) consumers’ evaluations of modules usefulness and relevance.

Sharma, U., & Salend, S. (2016). Teaching assistants in inclusive classrooms: A systematic analysis of international research. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 41(8), 118-134.

This article reviewed international data from English-language peer-reviewed studies on the use of TAs in inclusive classrooms from the past 10 years concerning: (a) the roles of TAs; (b) the impact of TAs on students, educators, and inclusive education; and (c) the factors that influence the performance of TAs. These studies suggest that unclear professional roles, limited communication and opportunities for collaboration and training for TAs and teachers contribute to TAs assuming significant instructional, classroom management, and socialization roles, and providing ineffective and separate instruction that inadvertently undermine the inclusion, learning, socialization and independence of students with disabilities and the pedagogical roles of their teachers. Recommendations to inform decisions about whether to employ TAs and ways to enhance the efficacy and the practices of TAs and the professionals who work with them are discussed as well as the limitations of this review and implications for future research.

Sobeck, E.E., Robertson, R., Smith, J. (2019). The effects of didactic instruction and performance feedback on paraeducator implementation of behavior support strategies in inclusive settings. The Journal of Special Education.

Many paraeducators have no formal education beyond high school and are provided with minimal training once on the job. Furthermore, as more schools turn to inclusionary practices, the impetus for highly qualified paraeducators becomes more important. However, little research has examined efficient ways to train paraeducators who work in inclusive classrooms. Through an adapted alternating treatments design (AATD), the general and comparative effects of two prominent training approaches were assessed: didactic instruction and performance feedback. Analysis of these approaches on paraeducators’ use of positive behavior support strategies in inclusive settings revealed that with an equal amount of training time for each approach, performance feedback consistently produced stronger immediate and maintained effects than didactic instruction.

Strain P.S. Wilson, K., Dunlap, G. (2011). Prevent-teach-reinforce: Addressing problems behaviors of students with autism in general education classrooms. Behavioral Disorders, 36(3), 160-171.

Children with autism and other disabilities are often prohibited from participating in inclusive educational environments due to the occurrence of problem behaviors. In this study, a standardized model for individualizing procedures of behavior support , Prevent-Teach-Reinforce (PTR), was evaluated in general education settings with three elementary school students with autism spectrum disorders and serious problem behaviors. A multiple baseline across students design was used to test the effects of PTR on the occurrence of problem behaviors and academic engagement. Results indicated that problem behaviors were reduced and engagement was increased for all of the participants. The findings are discussed in relation to the importance and the challenges of implementation fidelity and effective behavior support in general education settings.

Suleymanov, F. (2016). Relationship between teacher assistant support and academic achievements of exceptional students in inclusive education. The Online Journal of New Horizons in Education, 6(2), 93-100.

Through qualitative research this study investigated the relationship between teacher assistant support and academic achievements of exceptional students in Azerbaijan which also suggests universal implication. With semi-structured interview the researcher looked at the above-mentioned relationship through class teachers’ eyes and with observation through his own eyes. The findings clearly imply that there is definitely a strong relationship between teacher assistant performance and academic development of students with special educational needs. However, involvement of assistant teachers into inclusion might lead to isolation within classes if they take superior position to class teachers. For the sake of effective start and progress of inclusive practice, education reforms should be implemented in order to increase class teachers’ capacity in order to enable them to lead inclusive education.

Suter, J. C., & Giangreco, M. F. (2009). Numbers that count: Exploring special education and paraprofessional service delivery in inclusion-oriented schools. Journal of Special Education, 43(2), 81-93.

This study explores key indicators of special education service delivery based on responses from 92 special educators and 36 administrators in 19 Vermont schools. Special educators reported on their work, the work of paraprofessionals they supervised, and 103 students with disabilities who were receiving one-to-one paraprofessional supports within general education classes. Findings indicate that (a) many special educators have large caseloads, (b) there are substantially more paraprofessionals than special educators, and © more than half of all special education paraprofessionals are assigned to students with disabilities one-to-one. Combined, these factors indicate that schools employed models of service delivery for students with disabilities that are substantially supported by paraprofessionals, thus raising concerns about students’ access to a free, appropriate public education. (Contains 1 table and 1 figure.)

Tompkins, R. H., Ratcliff, N., Jones, C., Vaden, S. M., Hunt, G., & Chase, H. (2012). The myth of the foolproof script: Can paraprofessionals effectively improve kindergarten student achievement using a scripted phonics program? Early Years: An International Journal of Research and Development, 32(3), 313-323.

This study examined the implementation of a scripted phonics program taught by paraprofessionals in kindergarten classrooms in a local school district. Two research questions were investigated: (a) Can paraprofessionals with no prior training in phonics effectively implement a scripted phonics program for struggling kindergartners? and (b) Did fidelity to the script predict higher student test scores at the end of the teaching cycle? After 96 observations, researchers found that paraprofessionals did not demonstrate fidelity to the script, often supplying students with erroneous phonetic examples, and that, overall, students’ phonemic knowledge scores did not correlate with fidelity to the scripted program.

Veck, W. (2009). From an exclusionary to an inclusive understanding of educational difficulties and educational space: Implications for the learning support assistant’s role. Oxford Review of Education, 35(1), 41-56.

This paper argues that before Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) can begin to contribute to the realization of inclusive possibilities in and for education, critical attention must be given to the ways educational difficulties and space are considered and produced within educational institutions. A detailed study of a sixth form college in the south of England is drawn upon to elucidate the ways in which fixed and exclusionary perspectives on educational difficulties can entwine with prescriptive views of and approaches to educational space to marginalize LSAs and the students who received their support. Inclusive conceptualizations of both educational difficulties and space are developed to illuminate the potential of the LSAs to make unique and useful contributors to educational institutions.

Vickerman P., & Blundell, M. (2012). English learning support assistant’s experiences of including children with special educational needs in physical education. Eurepean Journal of Special Needs Education.

According to Blatchford, learning support assistants (LSA) in schools within England comprise of a quarter of their workforce. In recent years, the inclusion of children with special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream school settings has seen significant rises. Furthermore, the English government has raised expectations on the amount of physical education (PE) and school sport young people should engage in. This study examined the views, opinions and experiences of LSAs within England in relation to their perceived competence and confidence in supporting children with SEN in PE. Previous studies by Smith and Green, Morley et al. and Vickerman have noted widespread lack of training and professional development not only for LSAs, but also for PE teachers. Research by Morley et al. also indicates LSAs are more prevalent in other areas of the school curriculum than PE. This study surveyed 500 LSAs via a questionnaire in primary, secondary and special schools in England with a response rate of 142 (28.4%). This was followed up with interviews. The study found 63.3% of LSAs had received generic SEN training, whilst only 5.5% had received PE specific training. Of the 5.5% who received PE specific training 70.5% found it useful. Findings indicate best practice occurred when LSAs and PE teachers worked collaboratively in pedagogical planning and delivery. A model of effective LSA support for children with SEN in PE is proposed through which government and schools should consider adopting this model as a mechanism for reflecting, refining and delivering effective PE.

Viktorin, J. (2018). Teacher assistant in the inclusive school environment, The Educational Review, USA, 2(6), 320-329.

The literature review deals with the issue of a teacher assistant for pupils with special educational needs in the inclusive school environment, especially the preferred level of education of teacher assistants, qualification assumptions, risks associated with improper involvement of assistants in teaching and the quality and intensity of cooperation between a teacher and a teacher assistant. An analysis of selected studies was used according to two basic thematic criteria: a teacher assistant for pupils with special educational needs and the inclusive school environment. The results of the study have shown that the intensive cooperation of a teacher assistant with a teacher, systematic preparation for lessons and a collective evaluation of assistants’ previous work are the most important preconditions for the effective performance. Other factors for the successful teacher assistant’s work are an appropriate level of education, knowledge, helpful approach to pupils, empathy and tolerance.

Wadsworth D. E. & Knight, D. (1996). Paraprofessionals: The bridge to successful full inclusion. Intervention in School and Clinic, 31(3), 166-171.

This article offers six training suggestions for preparing paraprofessionals to work successfully with students having disabilities in an inclusive setting. These include providing preservice training through a centralized interdisciplinary training team, modeling the use of appropriate behavior management techniques, and communicating the importance of team collaboration. (DB)

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.

Webster, R., De Boer, A. (2019). Teaching assistants: their role in the inclusion, education and achievement of pupils with special educational needs. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 34(3), 404-407.

The long-term, international trend towards the inclusion of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) has been accompanied and enabled by an increase in the employment and deployment of a paraprofessional workforce, known variously as teaching assistants, teacher aides and paraeducators. Australia, Italy, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Malta, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States and the United Kingdom have all experienced large increases in this section of their education workforces (Giangreco, Doyle, and Suter 2014)

Webster, R., Blatchford, P., & Russell, A. (2012). Challenging and changing how schools use teaching assistants: Findings from the Effective Deployment of Teaching Assistants project. School Leadership & Management, 33(1), 170-191.

Following research on the negative impact of support from teaching assistants (TAs) on pupils’ academic progress, there was a clear need for schools to fundamentally reassess the way they use TAs. This article reports on findings from a collaborative project aimed at developing and evaluating alternative strategies to using TAs. Practitioner-led development trials were structured using a coherent and empirically sound model. Over the year of the intervention, schools made marked improvements to the ways TAs were deployed in classrooms, prepared for lessons and interacted with pupils. The study led to much-needed guidance on how to review current practice and make substantive changes to TA use, as part of wider school improvement.

Weiss, M.S. (1994). Cultural brokerage and school aides: a success story in education. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 25(3), 336-346.

This article will relate one of our more insightful interdisciplinary concepts-the marginal individual as cultural broker-to the world of public schooling and, in the process, allow us to better comprehend the contributions of a much maligned and misunderstood educational employee, the school aide.

Werts M. G., Wolery, M., Snyder, E., & Caldwell, N. (1996). Teachers’ perceptions of the supports critical to the success of inclusion programs. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 21(1), 9-21.

A survey of 164 Pennsylvania general and special education teachers and 1,430 elementary educators nationwide examined their attitudes concerning supports needed for the successful inclusion of students with disabilities. Teachers perceived a need for training, help from personnel outside the classroom, and in-class help such as paraprofessionals. (DB)

Wehmeyer, M. L. (2019). Srengths-based approached to educating all learners with disabilities - beyond special education. Teachers College Press, Columbia University.

Westover J. M., & Martin, E. J. (2014). Performance feedback, paraeducators, and literacy instruction for students with significant disabilities, Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, 18(4), 364-381.

Literacy skills are fundamental for all learners. For students with significant disabilities, strong literacy skills provide a gateway to generative communication, genuine friendships, improved access to academic opportunities, access to information technology, and future employment opportunities. Unfortunately, many educators lack the knowledge to design or implement appropriate evidence-based literacy instruction for students with significant disabilities. Furthermore, students with significant disabilities often receive the majority of their instruction from paraeducators. This single-subject design study examined the effects of performance feedback on the delivery skills of paraeducators during systematic and explicit literacy instruction for students with significant disabilities. The specific skills targeted for feedback were planned opportunities for student responses and correct academic responses. Findings suggested that delivery of feedback on performance resulted in increased pacing, accuracy in student responses, and subsequent attainment of literacy skills for students with significant disabilities. Implications for the use of performance feedback as an evaluation and training tool for increasing effective instructional practices are provided.

Whitburn B. (2013). The dissection of paraprofessional support in inclusive education: You’re in mainstream with a chaperone. Australasian Journal of Special Education, 37(2), 147-161.

The experiences of young people with disabilities of inclusive schooling are largely underresearched. This paper reports recent findings of a small-scale Australian qualitative study, in which secondary students with vision impairment spoke about their experiences of receiving paraprofessional support. Two overarching themes emerged from this study: ‘light’ and ‘heavy’ paraprofessional support. The results presented here demonstrate that participants described that support personnel upheld the strong arm of the special education tradition, which was manifestly detrimental to their inclusion. Raw data is presented to elucidate the emergent themes, and to explain the various pedagogical and general support roles of class and special educators in eliminating the need for direct paraprofessional presence in lessons. The light and heavy model of support is also examined in terms of how it fits into the complexity of the education discourse and the young people’s own aspirations for full inclusion.

Wolery M., Martin, C.G., Schroeder, C., Huffman, K., Venn, M.L., Holcombe, A., Brookfield, J., & Fleming, L. (1994). Employment of educators in preschool mainstreaming: A survey of general early educators. Journal of Early Intervention, 18(1), 64-77.

This report describes a mail survey designed (a) to identify the extent to which various types of educators (paraprofessionals, early childhood educators, elementary school educators, and special educators) were employed in early education programs and (b to describe patterns in that employment. Respondents represented a variety of programs (Head Start, public school prekindergarten, public school kindergarten, and community preschool/child care) and were selected randomly from the nine U.S. Bureau of the Census regions. The results indicate that (a) higher percentages of programs employed full-time rather than part-time paraprofessional and professional staff; (b) higher percentages of Head Start programs employed paraprofessionals, particularly Child-Development- Associate-degree staff, than did other program types, and the lowest percentage of employment of paraprofessionals occurred in public school kindergarten programs; © more mainstreamed programs employed paraprofessionals than did nonmainstreamed programs, but the differences were slight; (d) higher percentages of programs employed bachelor’s-degree teachers; (e) nearly equal percentages of programs employed elementary teachers as employed early childhood teachers, and fewer programs employed special education teachers; and (f) about three fourths of the mainstreamed programs did not employ special education teachers.