The Role of Paraprofessionals in Special Education What is a paraprofessional? Two types of paraprofessionals 1. Instructional paraprofessionals: work under the guidance of both general and special education teachers to support educational planning 2. Personal Care Assistants (PCA) provide one-toone, non instructional support to individual students for activities of daily living, health, behavior, etc. (www.pattan.net) The use of paraprofessionals continues to increase. ‘Assigning paraprofessionals to classrooms or individual students has become a dominant and growing model of support, especially for students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms.’ (Gioangrco and Broer, 2003) Potential Effects of Using Paraprofessionals Positive • Positive relationships with students • Academic and behavior support • Support social interaction with peers Negative • Reduced interaction with teacher • Isolation from peers • Overdependence on paraprofessionals socially and academically Giangreco, Broer, &Edelmn (2001) No Child Left Behind (NCLB 2001) Addressed the issue of trying to improve student outcomes by improving teacher and paraeducator quality Set guidelines for paraprofessional training and education. These are different for Title 1 paraprofessionals (federally funded) & special education paraprofessionals (guidelines from the state) NCLB defines paraprofessional duties. • Provide one-on-one tutoring, if such tutoring is scheduled at a time when a student would not otherwise receive instruction from a teacher • Assist with classroom management, such as organizing instructional materials • Provide instructional assistance in a computer laboratory, support in library/media center • Conduct parental involvement activities • Act as translators • Provide instructional support services under the direct supervision of a teacher U.S. Department of Education (2004) NCLB: Supervision of Paraprofessionals • The qualified teacher must prepare the lessons and all instructional support activities as well as conduct any assessments required for the students involved with a paraprofessional • Paraeducator must work under the direct supervision of a qualified teacher • Paraeducator must work closely with the teacher in terms of instructional planning and proximity Why use paraprofessionals? • increases instructional quality and time for students with disabilities and assures their safety • permits a timelier response to student needs and allows greater flexibility in service delivery • Full inclusion- teachers, paraeducators, and parents agree that the paraeducator makes inclusion feasible. 'Without the paraeducator, inclusion would not be possible’ French & Chopra (1999) PA State Regulations (effective 7/1/10) Qualifications Instructional paraprofessionals shall meet one of the following qualifications. 1)Have completed at least 2 years of postsecondary study (approx. 48 credits) OR 2) Possess an associate degree or higher OR 3) Meet a rigorous standard of quality as demonstrated through a state or local assessments (Credential of Competency for Special Education Paraeducators Ongoing Professional Development: Paraprofessionals must obtain 20 hours annually of ongoing professional development **PCAs do not need to meet the educational requirements but do need to obtain the 20 hrs/annual of professional development (www. patten.net) Potential Problems Paraprofessional Use • Educators are unsure how to use them most effectively. • Adequate supervision is often lacking. Teachers are not trained on how to supervise, resulting in poor or no supervision. • There is no standardized practice for their use. • Research has shown that there are detrimental effects when using 1:1 paraprofessionals (Giangreco & Broer (2005). • The least trained personnel are often working with most challenging students (Giangreco & Broer, 2005). • Well-trained, efficient, effective people are hard to find. Retention is difficult due to low pay and lack of respect. How do you know if paraprofessionals are being overused? Questions to think about….. Are students spending more time with paraprofessionals than with peers? If the paraprofessional is absent does this result in a “lost day" for the student? Are paraprofessionals providing instruction in areas that they are under or unskilled? Is there a plan to fade paraprofessional support? (Ghere and York-Barr,2007) Things to think about….. • Are our paraprofessionals meeting state standards for education and training? • How can we better prepare our special education teachers for supervisory roles of paraprofessionals? • Can we better compensate our paraprofessionals to increase retention/ job satisfaction? (ex. frequent meetings with administrators/teachers, surveys, competitive wages, benefits, incentives, recognition) • How can we better support our paraprofessionals? (ex. provide them information on the student/access to IEP/participation in IEP meetings/conferences, do “coaching” observations, write down expectations/to do list) • Should we examine how our paraprofessionals are used to see how we can increase inclusion, improve delivery of intervention? • Can we be more cognizant of monitoring the need for paraprofessionals as one-to-one assistants? (ex. Include fading support plans in our IEPs) RESOURCES • Maximize Paraprofessional Services for Students with Learning Disabilities, Nancy K. French, 2002. (Available on www. ldonline.org/article/6184) • Paraprofessionals – No Perfect Solution, Michael F. Giangreco and Stephen M. Broer, 2003. (Available on website for Council for Exceptional Children, http://www.cec.sped.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home&CAT=none&CONTENTID=6 278&TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm) • U. S. Department of Education (2004). Title I Paraprofessionals: Non-regulator guidance. Retrieved January 8, 2012 from http://www2.ed.gov/admins/tchrqual/qual/paraprofessional.html • www.pattan.net/, Pennsylvania Department of Education • Best practices for the use and training of paraprofessionals, Natalie Ann Zehnder, 2010. (Available on website http://csus-dspace.calstate.edu) • Working with Paraprofessionals, Giangreco, Broer & Edelman, 2001. (Available on website www.pealcenter.org/images/Giangreco-working_with.pdf) Secondary sources (used by Natalie Ann Zehnder in her research) French, N. K. (1999). Paraeducators: Who are they and what do they do? Teaching Exceptional Children, 32(1) 65-69. French, N. K. (2003). Paraeducators in special education programs. Focus on Exceptional Children, 36(2), 2-17. French, N. K., & Chopra, R. V. (1999). Parent perspective on roles of paraprofessionals. The Journal of the Association for the Persons with Severe Handicaps, 24(4), 259-280. Ghere, G, & York-Barr, J. (2007). Paraprofessional turnover and retention in inclusive programs: Hidden costs and promising practices. Remedial and Special Education, 28(1), 21-32.