Paraeducator Library

Welcome to the Resources section of our site! We have compiled some information that we hope will be valuable to you.

The State of the Art A snapshot of how federal, state and local education agencies have addressed issues that influence the roles, preparation and supervision of paraeducators.

Paraeducator Bibliography (1999) This is a comprehensive overview of materials on and for paraeducators.

Career Ladder Articles These articles discuss several different professional development models for paraeducators.

Paraeducator Bibliography

NRCP Paraeducator Training Resources, Administrative Guidelines, and Personnel Preparation Models Bibliography

An Annotated Bibliography 1991-1999
Edited by Andrew J. Humm and Anna Lou Pickett


In recent years, there has been an explosion of materials on and for paraeducators. The National Resource Center for Paraeducator in Education and Related Services has been compiling these resources into bibliographies for twenty years. To prepare this latest edition of materials from 1991 to 1999, we culled through hundreds of publications. These resources can be of use to educators, trainers, administrators, parents and other caregivers, and paraeducators themselves.

We gratefully acknowledge the permission of the ERIC system to cite bibliographical entries from their database. Many of the items cite ERIC numbers for those seeking access to the full documents via their system.

*Developed through a grant (H029K970088-98) from the Division of Personnel Preparation, OSEP. Please acknowledge the source of the material.

This bibliography is divided into six sections, many of which overlap:

Career Development Programs and Models

Breaking The Class Ceiling: Paraeducator Pathways To Teaching

Haselkorn, David; Fideler, Elizabeth
Recruiting New Teachers, Inc., Belmont, MA.
Recruiting New Teachers, Inc., 385 Concord Avenue, Belmont, MA 02178 (while supplies last), 1996, 304 p.

This report examines a grass-roots movement for teacher diversity and development: paraeducator pathways into teaching. The desire to recruit a more diverse pool of teachers for urban schools and critical shortage areas has spurned a renewed interest in paraprofessional career opportunity programs. The 149 paraeducator-to-teacher programs identified in a survey by Recruiting New Teachers are described in terms of program scope and purpose; a profile of participants; overcoming barriers to participation; program models; recruiting, evaluating, and tracing participants; program budget and administration; and outlook. Sources of support for paraeducator-to-teacher programs include foundations, federal and state sponsorship, and teacher unions and paraprofessional associations. The study suggests that the paraeducator-to-teacher programs are an important influence in diversifying the teacher workforce, can be an important link between schools and communities, and can raise skill levels and earning power of their participants. A substantial bibliography is included. The appendices include profiles of nine programs; study methodology; presentation of data from the program survey; strategies to help paraeducators surmount barriers to career advancement; and workshop topics for staff.

ERIC Accession Number: ED398184

Career Development For Non-Traditional Community College Students As Special Education Paraprofessionals

Final Report

Harrison, Sharonlyn

Wayne State Univ., Detroit, MI. Developmental Disabilities Inst., 1997, 201 pp.

Developmental Disabilities Institute, Wayne State University, 268 Leonard Simons Building, 4809 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202; telephone: 313-577-2654.

This final report describes the Career Development for Non-Traditional College Students as Special Education Paraprofessionals Project, a Michigan project designed to develop career paths and employment opportunities for paraprofessionals who work with children, youth, and adults with disabilities. Its intent was to develop a value-based curriculum that focuses on community presence and participation, communicates guiding values, and emphasizes; human relationships and support to individuals with disabilities. While learning best practices in the field, students also developed the skills needed for successful academic work. Highlights of the project included: (1) creating career path possibilities for paraprofessionals; (2) affecting persons with developmental disabilities and their families through paraprofessional training experiences that provided a vision of community presence and participation; (3) developing an extensive curriculum and student handbook; (4) developing innovative recruitment strategies, including a closed-captioned video; (5) enhancing the status of the direct-care role through building career paths that allowed paraprofessional to obtain higher education and job advancement within the field; (6) increasing minority participants through targeted minority recruitment; and (7) teaching state of the art strategies to paraprofessionals. Appendices include a paraprofessional curriculum for community inclusion, course listings, and a technical assistance guide.

ERIC Accession Number: ED415647

Career Ladder Approach To Training For Community Facilities Personnel And Paraeducators In The State Of North Dakota

Vassiliou, Demetrios; Johnson, Dave
In: Montgomery, Diane, Ed., Rural Partnerships: Working Together. Proceedings of the Annual National Conference of the American Council on Rural Special Education (ACRES) (14th, Austin, TX, March 23-26, 1994), 11 pp.

Since 1983, the North Dakota Statewide Mentally Retarded/Developmentally Disabled Faculty Staff Training Program has used a career ladder approach to provide training to over 10,000 staff, primarily in scattered rural developmental-disability facilities. Cooperative relationships among the Department of Human Services, Minot State University, and community providers have been critical to the program's success. The training program uniquely meets the needs of rural states. A "circuit rider" provides technical assistance to developmental-disability regional trainers working with facility staff. Full-time direct-service staff are required to demonstrate knowledge and skills in topic areas addressed in 13 training modules, and have the option of studying 20 additional modules. The program offers a seven-step professional development sequence for career advancement, ranging from entry-level orientation to a Master's degree in special education. Learning options include formal instruction, on-site demonstration, mentoring, and self-study. Staff may "test out" of individual modules. Key program elements include comprehensive but flexible training materials, a state system of training records, state standards and certification for training, and a career training sequence leading to academic degrees. In 1992, the program was expanded to provide field-based training to special-education paraeducators. Training consists of four mandatory modules for basic certification and four or five of nine optional modules for advanced certification. Trainees may receive college credit.

ERIC Accession Number: ED369591

Career Pathways For Related Service Paratherapists Working In Early Intervention And Other Education Settings

Longhurst, Thomas M.
Journal of Children's Communication Development; v18 n1 p23-30 Spr-Sum 1997

Discusses issues in personnel training practices for paraprofessionals providing related services in early intervention and education settings. The term paratherapist is used to refer to paraprofessionals working under the supervision of professionals in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology. Presents a philosophy of related service paratherapist utilization and a summary of current and future needs for paratherapists.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ550629

Diversifying From Within: The Minority Teacher Scholarship Program

Fielder, Donald J.
Phi Delta Kappan, v. 77 (Feb. 1996) p. 445-6

The writer describes a cooperative program that has helped a Georgia school district and a nearby university to produce more minority teachers. The Marietta City School District joined forces with Kennesaw State College to institute a Minority Student-to-Teacher Recruitment and Training Program. Under the program, students receive scholarships to follow an education degree program at the university in return for a commitment to teach one year in the school district for every year they are on scholarship. The scholarships are jointly funded: The school district's general fund pays for half of all the costs, the university's endowment fund pays a quarter, and the district's own foundation pays for the remaining quarter. As well as the scholarship, which pays for tuition and fees, the participants receive part-time or full-time paraprofessional positions with the district.

Diversifying The Teaching Force: Preparing Paraeducators As Teachers. ERIC Digest

Genzuk, Michael
ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education, Washington, DC., 1997; 4 p.

Paraeducators are school employees whose responsibilities are either instructional in nature or who deliver other services to students. Large numbers of paraeducators have expressed a desire to become professional teachers. Because many paraeducators, perhaps the majority, are from minority groups, they would expand the pool of potential teachers from underrepresented groups. Well-designed paraeducator-to-teacher programs foster stronger school/university collaboration, improved induction into teaching, and graduated assumption of teaching roles as knowledge and skills are refined. Data indicate four primary obstacles that, if mediated, may facilitate successful pathways for paraeducators attempting to attain teacher certification. These obstacles and suggested mediations are: (1) financial support--access to grants, scholarships, and other financial aid; (2) social factors--provision of programs and events for sensitizing the paraeducator's entire support community to the academic and social pressures the paraeducator may encounter; (3) academic obstacles--enrichment such as counseling, mentoring, tutoring, and extended programs for promising candidates who need expanded academic time frameworks; and (4) external pressures and stresses--school-site assisted performance (improved working conditions at the school site including salary, benefits, and job security, and a nurturing, supportive environment). (Contains 13 references.)

ERIC Accession Number: ED406362

First And Second Language Acquisition Processes

Intercultural Development Research Association, 5835 Callaghan Road, Suite 350, San Antonio, TX 78228; (210) 684-8180

Emphasizes the learning process for language acquisition. Using two dimensions of languageÖsocial and academicÖthis material provides information with the processes that students go through as they acquire English as a second language. Training is designed for professionals and paraprofessionals in the K-12 system.

Growing Your Own: A Model For Preparing Paraprofessionals To Be Fully Certified Teachers In Urban Classrooms

Dandy, Evelyn Baker
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Chicago, IL, March 24-28, 1997), 18 pp.

The Pathways program at Armstrong Atlantic State University (Georgia) is taking non-certified school district employees who have exemplary work records, better than average grades, and a sincere commitment to teaching and offering them tuition and other support so that they can take college courses and earn degrees leading to teacher certification. The employees must maintain a grade point average of 2.5 or higher, and upon graduation remain employed by the local public schools for at lest three years. Faculty teaching in the program have been encouraged to emphasize techniques that work well with children in urban environments. All lesson plans include a statement of relevance and must focus on participatory activities with ample opportunities for oral language development. Assignments encourage the use of materials and resources available in most urban homes. Community site visits include local museums featuring the local history and the accomplishments of local residents. This project has been accomplished through the collaboration of representatives from three institutions in Savannah (Georgia): Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah State University, and the Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools. Four tables are appended.

ERIC Accession Number: ED408253

Idaho's Three-Tiered System For Speech-Language Paratherapist Training And Utilization

Longhurst, Thomas M.
Journal of Children's Communication Development; v18 n1 p57-63 Spr-Sum 1997

Discusses the development and current implementation of Idaho's three-tiered system of speech-language paratherapists. Support personnel providing speech-language services to learners with special communication needs in educational settings must obtain one of three certification levels: (1) speech-language aide, (2) associate degree speech-language assistant, or (3) bachelor's level speech-language associate.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ550631

Inclusion: An Essential Guide For The Paraprofessional:

A practical reference tool for all paraprofessionals working in inclusionary settings
Hammeken, Peggy A.
Peytral Publications, 1996. 144 p. ISBN: 0964427168


Final Report, September 1, 1993 to June 30, 1997
Palsha, Sharon and Wesley, Patricia in collaboration with Duncan Munn and Gene Perrotta
North Carolina University, Chapel Hill. Frank Porter Graham Center, 1997, 44 pp.

This final report discusses the outcomes of a North Carolina project designed to prepare professionals and paraprofessionals to deliver quality services in inclusive settings to young children with disabilities and their families. The primary component of the project was to develop and implement an on-site, inservice collaborative consultation model in which 40 early childhood professionals were trained as consultants to work with child care staff in their communities to improve the quality of child care environments. Consultants were primarily early intervention outreach specialists and resource and referral agency staff. The second component of the project was to support early childhood community college faculty in their curriculum planning and teaching efforts to prepare students to provide services to children with disabilities and their families. Evaluation data indicate that the on-site consultation model was successful in improving the quality of early childhood environments. By providing on-site follow up related to the participants identified needs, changes were made in program quality that were both measurable and lasting. The community college component of the program was also successful. Contains 2 tables and 12 figures.

ERIC Accession Number: ED411654

Increasing Teacher Diversity By Tapping The Paraprofessional Pool

Villegas, Ana Maria; Clewell, Beatriz C.

Theory into Practice, v. 37 no2 (Spring 1998) p. 121-30

Part of a special issue on preparing teachers for cultural diversity. Paraprofessionals represent a largely untapped pool from which people of color can be recruited and prepared for a teaching career. Increasing the proportion of teachers of color in public schools is necessary so that these teachers can serve as cultural brokers for the growing number of students of color and as role models for all students. In order to serve these paraprofessionals well, teacher education programs must set up partnerships with school districts to plan and implement a career ladder program, use multiple sources of information to select paraprofessionals for such a program, provide academic and social support services, modify the teacher education program, and secure tuition assistance.

Increasing The Number Of Minority Teachers: Tapping The Paraprofessional Pool

Dandy, Evelyn B, Armstrong Atlantic State University Pathways to Teaching Careers Program
Education and Urban Society, v. 31 no1 (Nov. 1998) p. 89-103

Part of a special issue on diversifying the teaching force to improve urban schools. The Pathways to Teaching Careers Program at Armstrong Atlantic State University (AASU), Georgia, is discussed. In attempting to meet Georgia's need for minority teachers, Pathways offers non-certified school district employees tuition and other support so they can take college courses and earn degrees leading to certification. In turn, the participants must maintain a grade point average of 2.5 or higher, attend all program-supported activities, and, when they graduate, remain employed by the local public schools for at least three years. The success of the AASU program is due primarily to strong collaboration between local schools and universities; leadership by a campus advocate who is committed to the program objectives; program standards that begin with a strategic selection process and provide financial, emotional, and academic support; and curricular modification that allows for flexible scheduling, includes strategies for teaching urban populations, and builds on cultural strengths.

Increasing The Number Of Teachers Of Color For Urban Schools

Lessons from the Pathways national evaluation Pathways to Teaching Careers Program
Villegas, Ana Maria; Clewell, Beatriz C.
Education and Urban Society, v. 31 no1 (Nov. 1998) p. 42-61

Part of a special issue on diversifying the teaching force to improve urban schools. A study examined the effectiveness of the Pathways to Teaching Careers Program, a privately supported teacher recruitment effort. Paraprofessionals and emergency-certified teachers are the program's primary recruitment targets. Data were obtained over three years as part of a five-year national evaluation of the program. As of June 1997, the 27 Pathways sites had collectively recruited and enrolled 1,854 participants or 15 percent more than the recruitment goal. The attrition rates for the emergency-certified teacher group and the paraprofessional group are 14 and 12 percent, respectively. The overall completion rate for the emergency-certified teacher group is 52 percent and for the paraprofessional group is 38 percent. However, these figures underestimate completion rates. Teaching effectiveness ratings are high for both emergency-certified and paraprofessional groups.

The Irvine Paraprofessional Program

Promising practice for serving students with ADHD
Kotkin, Ronald A
Journal of Learning Disabilities, v. 31 no6 (Nov./Dec. 1998) p. 556-64

The Irvine Paraprofessional Program (IPP) looks promising for serving elementary-school children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the general education classroom. This article describes the components of the IPP, preliminary research studies that support its efficacy, and the benefits of the model. The IPP is a 12-week intensive intervention that includes (a) direct intervention to children with ADHD by specially trained paraprofessionals, (b) teacher consultation by the school psychologist on the use of effective classroom management strategies, (c) school-based reinforcement, and (d) social skills training. Preliminary studies suggest that paraprofessionals can effect positive changes in children with ADHD that can be maintained by the teacher once the paraprofessional is removed from the classroom. The purpose of this article is to provide a description of the IPP as an effective model for serving children with ADHD in the general education classroom.

Multicultural Perspectives In The Classroom: Professional Preparation For Educational Paraprofessionals

Harper, Victoria
Action in Teacher Education, v. 16 (Fall 1994) p. 66-78

Part of a special issue on celebrating diversity in teacher education. The writer recommends the establishment of a recognized career path leading to full teaching certification for the educational paraprofessional. In response to the diverse cultural and linguistic needs of their students, many school districts employ teachers' aides who have little academic or pedagogical preparation and who operate at an organizationally disempowered level. The creation of an effective paraprofessional teaching population requires that paraprofessionals be prepared for the work they do, that they be allowed to move from one level of responsibility to the next within a sequence of preparation, and that career paths leading to full professional certification be established. The writer presents a historical view of paraprofessional programs, gives current examples of such programs, and suggests possible career paths for the paraprofessional.

National Policies And Training Frameworks For Early Childhood Education [In] The United States

The Child Development Associate and Other Credentialing Frameworks for Paraprofessionals
Hinitz, Blythe F.
Paper presented at the Warwick International Early Years Conference (2nd, March 28, 1996), 26 pp., 1996.

This paper reviews the history of the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, created in 1972 to meet the growing need for skilled child care workers to provide quality programs for young children in the United States. A pilot program was launched in 1974, leading to the granting of CDA credentials in 1975. Since 1976 over 60,000 CDA credentials have been awarded, and Head Start's current mandate includes one CDA per classroom. Critiques of the CDA system are reviewed, as are adaptations and variations on the original curriculum and model. Other nontraditional child care training and credential programs are also described. It is concluded that the CDA credential has created a cadre of competent, skilled educators and caregivers. Weaknesses and challenges associated with the program include confusion about the status of CDAs within the early childhood profession, self-regulation within the credentialing process, and the limited scope of the credential in non-Head Start settings. (Contains 56 references.)

ERIC Accession Number: ED397018

Oklahoma Dual Sensory Impairment Technical Assistance Project

Final Report
Lovett, David; Haring, Kathryn
Oklahoma University, Norman. 1996, 176 p.

This final report describes Oklahoma State Department of Education activities designed to improve technical assistance to special education programs and related services for children and youth with deaf-blindness. Specifically, activities of the project included: (1) training professionals, paraprofessionals, and related service providers preparing to serve or serving children and youth with deaf-blindness; (2) providing technical assistance to increase the number of programs delivering improved services to children and youth with deaf-blindness in the least restrictive environment; (3) facilitating parental involvement in the education of their children and youth with deaf-blindness; and (4) identifying, certifying, and placing children on the Deaf-Blind Registry and tracking children and youth with deaf-blindness. The goals of the project were to establish improved instructional, administrative, and appraisal techniques leading to increased opportunities for education within the least restrictive environment; to increase family involvement; to create an effective tracking and certification system; and to establish a closer correlation between the Deaf-Blind Registry and state child counts. The result of this project was the establishment of improved techniques leading to increased opportunities for education within the least restrictive environment, greater family involvement, an effective tracking and certification system, and a closer correlation between Deaf-Blind registry and state child counts. Appendices contain a list of project activities, data charts, and evaluation instruments.

ERIC Accession Number: ED411647

Paraeducator: Not Just An Aide

Johnson, Marlene M.; Lasater, Mary W.; Fitzgerald, Mary M. Jornal of Staff Development; v18, n1, 6-11, Winter 1997
Available from UMI

This article, written by staff developers and authors of a paraeducator training curriculum, Paraeducators: LifeLines in the Classroom, offers a framework for planning ongoing staff development for pre-service paraeducators. It highlights essential content as the core information to be addressed, questions to design a needs assessment, as well as a recommended process for conducting staff development.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ586895

Paraprofessional Training Packet

Arkansas Department of Education, Special Education Section, State Education Building, C Room, 1054 Capital Mall, Little Rock, AK 72201; (501) 682-4221

The information in the packet addresses multicultural issues with sample activities in working with the LEP student. Included are legal aspects pertaining to the Americans with Disabilities Act, Rehabilitation 504 Act, IDEA Legislation, inclusion, and IEP requirements. A resource for paraprofessionals in the K-12 system.

Preparing Teachers For Cultural Diversity

A Symposium
Theory into Practice, v. 37 no2 (Spring 1998) p. 88-171

A special issue on preparing teachers for cultural diversity is presented. Articles discuss the enhancement of institutional capacity to address diversity issues in teacher education, teacher attributes necessary to provide a multicultural education, how novice teachers can develop broader and more complex perspectives on social issues and action, institutional support for diversity in pre-service teacher education, the recruitment and preparation of paraprofessional people of color for a teaching career, the attempt by the University of New Mexico's pre-service teacher education program to construct a critical perspective toward a better understanding of both the school and the home and community, the use of case studies in the preparation of teachers for cultural diversity, the attempt by the New College of California's teacher education program to empower new teachers to meet the challenges of education in culturally diverse communities, two cultural immersion projects offered at Indiana University-Bloomington, and design principles for good practice in multicultural pre-service teacher education.

Profiles In Collaboration

Chapter 4: Kansas Project Partnership: A State Systems Change Approach to Improving Teacher Development
P. Jeannie Kleinhammer-Trammil, James J. Trammil, Fran E. OâReilly, and Phyllis M. Kelly, Kansas Project Partnership (KPP), Kansas State Board of Education
Technical Assistance Center for Professional Development Partnerships, Academy for Educational Development, Washington, DC, February 1998; call (202) 884-8000 or download from website

The KPP project focuses on systemic change. In order to bring IHEâs in line with new sate license and certification requirements for both general and special educators, KPP facilitated updating and improving preservice education programs. It awarded subgrants to IHEâs in Kansas and also offered mini-grants to members of a multi-state consortium.

Project Para: Establishing Paraprofessional Preservice Training Programs Through Cooperative Efforts With Local Education Agencies

Stanley F. Vasa, Allen Steckelberg, and Mary Koenig Goyette
The Paraprofessional Preservice Training Project, Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders, Teachers College, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 318 Barkley Memorial Center, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583-0738; (402) 472-5494

The projectâs training program for paraeducators emphasizes coordination with local schools, active involvement of paraeducators, and accountability for defined outcomes. Provides competencies in instructional techniques, behavior management, confidentiality and ethical behaviors, collaboration and teaming skills, classroom organization and management, special education policies and terminology, monitoring and reporting student progress, and roles of paraeducators in special education programs. Self-study materials available at

Project Together: Family Child Care Providers' Commitment To Continuing Education And Inclusion

Giovinazzo, Christina; Cook, David
Infants and Young Children; v8 n2 p26-36 Oct 1995
Available from UMI

This article describes a comprehensive, credentialed training program for family child-care providers that is family-centered, community-based, and focuses on developmentally appropriate practices for all children, including those with disabilities. The development of and rationale for this program are discussed, and a description of field test activities and outcomes is provided.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ511793

Promise Seen In Patchwork Of Para-To-Teacher Programs

Ponessa, Jeanne
Education Week, v. 15 (Apr. 3 1996) p. 7

Programs, such as the Urban Paraprofessional Teacher Preparation Program at Cambridge College in Massachusetts, not only provide school aides with the opportunity to become teachers but also help direct members of minority groups into a profession that needs diversity. Paraprofessionals who want to become teachers have been found to be usually older, have wider classroom experience, and be less likely to leave teaching.

Recognizing Cultural Difference In The Classroiom

Training Module III: National Origin Desegregation
Intercultural Development Research Association, 5835 Callaghan Road, Suite 350, San Antonio, TX 78228; (210) 684-8180; $8.50

Text explores various cultural dimensions including surface, culture, folklore, order of authority, patriotic/religious holidays, folk tales, and elements of deep culture. Addresses LEP students and a variety of cultures within the education system. Does not address the special needs learner nor language acquisition skills.

Report Of The Consortium Of Organizations On The Preparation And Use Of Speech-Language Paraprofessionals In Early Intervention And Education Settings

Journal of Children's Communication Development; v18 n1 p31-55 Spr-Sum 1997 (ERIC Accession Number: EJ550630)
Also: Council for Exceptional Children, 1920 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191; 57 pp.

This report presents the conclusions of a consortium of organizations on the development of a framework for the appropriate preparation, use, and supervision of paraprofessionals in the delivery of speech and language services in early intervention and educational settings for children with communication disorders. The framework establishes three levels of paraprofessionals, with job titles such as aide, assistant, and associate, all working under the supervision of a licensed/certified speech language pathologist. Provided for each level is information on the nature of the role and its responsibilities, the education and training needed, and the degree of supervision required by individuals in that role. The framework also specifies the additional knowledge and skills needed by the speech-language pathologist to adequately supervise and use the various levels of paraprofessional personnel in a comprehensive service system. Also specifically identified are those activities that should remain outside the scope of responsibilities of a paraprofessional in speech-language pathology. Attached is a detailed matrix listing the roles and responsibilities, needed competencies/skills, and needed knowledge for each of the three paraprofessional levels.

ERIC Accession Number: ED406788

Starting Today: Steps To Success For Beginning Bilingual Educators

Intercultural Development Research Association, 5835 Callaghan Road, Suite 350, San Antonio, TX 78228; (210) 684-8180

The material addresses all areas that contribute to the success of learners. The learning process, including homework, is outlined by spelling out the responsibility of teacher, student, and parent. Focuses on the Spanish-speaking population, providing many commonly used classroom phrases in English and Spanish. The techniques could be adapted for use with other students who are LEP. Extensively describes learning styles, self-esteem issues, peer interaction while providing a holistic approach. For paraprofessionals, teachers, and administrators in the K-12 system.

Skill Standards For Paraeducators

Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges Skill Standards Project
Paraeducator Skill Standard Consortium with project management provided by Walla Walla Community College

Skill standards are performance specifications that identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities that an individual needs to succeed in the workplace. They also answer the question, ãHow do we know when workers are performing well?ä Prepared to generate interest in the field as a career choice, provide information to college faculty to prepare paraeducator students for successful performance in schools, assist high school teachers and counselors to better advise students preparing for careers as paraeducators. Goal is to specify the critical work functions, key activities, performance indicators and knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to succeed as a paraeducator in a general, special education, or bilingual/ESL educational setting.

Teaching Content: Esl Strategiesfor Classroom Teachers

Intercultural Development Research Association, 5835 Callaghan Road, Suite 350, Suite, San Antonio, TX 78228; (210) 684-8180; $8.50

This training manual presents a variety of exercises geared toward cognitive, social, and experiential learning. Exercises explore the different ways of learning English as a second language. Provides ã20 Tips for Teachers of Language-Minority Students.ä Incorporates cooperative learning, using as many visual cues as possible, making use of all senses, and increasing student response time. Especially useful for paraprofessionals working with LEP students.

Technical Assistance Guide For Community College Administrators And Program Coordinators

Kent, Carol; and others
Wayne State Univ., Detroit, MI. Developmental Disabilities Inst., 1996, 40 p.

This guide provides information and guidelines to community college personnel who are administering and coordinating programs designed to prepare paraprofessionals to work with individuals with developmental disabilities in community settings. The guide is specifically for individuals managing the "Paraprofessional Curriculum for Community Inclusion" program offered at Michigan community colleges. The guide describes the Community College Initiative developed by Wayne State University's Developmental Disabilities Institute, especially its features of systems change, student diversity, a values-based curriculum, academic skill development, and career path development. The guide outlines the importance of "person first" language, program needs assessment, community linkages, program certification, staffing, disability support, and job placement. A chapter on curriculum development focuses on the core curriculum which stresses seeing people first (not their disability), viewing historical perspectives, understanding individuals' special needs, the human service delivery system, rights and advocacy, field work, areas of specialization and employment, and transfer to four-year institutions. A chapter on program administration addresses staffing the program (hiring qualified faculty and supporting and retaining faculty), student recruitment, and other program issues. A list of products developed by the Community College Initiative is appended. (Contains 10 references.)

ERIC Accession Number: ED403713

The Training And Support Needs Of Paraprofessionals In Rural Special Education

Passaro, Perry D, Pickett, Anna Lou, Lathem, G., and Wang, H.B.
Rural Special Education Quarterly; v13 n4 p3-9 Fall 1994

Two surveys of rural paraprofessionals, teachers, and administrators in special education identified paraprofessionals' perceived training and support needs, current training requirements for special education paraprofessionals, and effective methods of providing training in rural areas. Results encompass demographics, extent and quality of supervision, retention issues, previous training, and training needs. Bar graphs detail paraprofessional and supervisor ratings of paraprofessional competencies.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ495401

Training Interpreter Paraprofessionals To Assist In The Language Assessment Of English Language Learners In Utah

Yoakum, Susie; Manuel Dupont, Sonia
Journal of Children's Communication Development; v18 n1 p91-101 Spr-Sum 1997

Describes development of an interpreter paraprofessional (IP) program by Utah State University and Granite (Utah) school district in response to the unavailability of certified interpreters to assist in special education assessment of students who are English Language Learners. Stresses the importance of providing IPs with job-relevant training, field practice, and team-building experiences with professional personnel.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ550634

Transition: The Role Of The Paraprofessional

Module Seven. Facilitator's Edition [and] Student's Edition
Strategies for Paraprofessionals Who Support Individuals with Disabilities Series
Krawetz, Nancy, Comp.
Hutchinson Technical Coll., MN.; Minnesota State Board of Technical Colleges, St. Paul.; Minnesota State Dept. of Education, St. Paul.; Minnesota Univ., Minneapolis. Inst. on Community Integration, 1995
University of Minnesota, The Institute on Community Integration (UAP), 150 Pillsbury Drive, S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455 ($25 facilitator edition; $15 student edition), 363 p.; For other modules, see EC 304 986-991.

The seventh in a series of federally supported modules for training paraprofessional school personnel working with students with disabilities, this module presents information on assisting individuals with disabilities in their transition from school to adult life. Both a facilitator's edition and a student's edition are provided. Chapter 1 discusses transition and the transition team. Chapter 2 provides information on interagency collaboration. The roles and responsibilities of paraprofessionals are examined in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 presents effective communication and problem-solving strategies. Student assessment and goal setting are discussed in Chapter 5. Chapter 6 focuses on student and family involvement in transition planning. Chapter 7 explores the transition to employment. Choosing a home living arrangement and supporting students as they learn home living skills are reviewed in Chapter 8. Chapter 9 explores the transition to post-secondary education. Chapters 10 and 11 discuss fostering community involvement and planning for recreation and leisure options. Five appendices provide additional information on the Individualized Education Plan, disability-related legislation, transition assessment, personal futures planning, and transition resources. The facilitator's edition offers learning activities and information sheets to be used as transparencies. (Contains 14 references.)

ERIC Accession Number: ED398700

A University-School District Collaborative Project For Preparing Paraprofessionals To Become Special Educators

Epanchin, Betty C.; Wooley-Brown, Cathy
Teacher Education and Special Education; v16 n2 p110-23 Spring 1993

This paper describes a collaborative project of Polk County (Florida) public schools and the University of South Florida, which prepares paraprofessionals to become special education teachers. Successful implementation of the project has required overcoming histories of mistrust, establishing an agenda that addresses mutual needs, clarifying roles and responsibilities, and developing mechanisms for accomplishing the work..

ERIC Accession Number: EJ472692

Utilization And Training Of Speech-Language Pathology Support Personnel To Enhance Services For Preschool Children

Pillow, Gary L.
Ed.D. Practicum, Nova Southeastern University, 1996, 28 pp.

This practicum involved the development and delivery of a three semester hour community college course for five speech-language pathology (SLP) support personnel assisting in a preschool setting. The practicum addressed the specific problem that support personnel did not demonstrate independent and effective instructional strategies when implementing the speech-language pathologist's plan. The course was designed to provide an overview from all areas of study recommended for a full SLP assistant curriculum. Topics covered included sign language; the manual alphabet; principles of linguistic phonetics; the three systems of speech production (respiratory, laryngeal, and supralaryngeal); the phonetic alphabet; anatomy and physiology of the speech mechanism and the auditory system; normal stages of language acquisition; child speech and language disorders; principles of phonology; types of augmentative and alternative communication devices and programs; clinical methods in speech pathology; basic principles of audiology; aural rehabilitation techniques; and central auditory processing disorders. Evaluation suggested that the support personnel demonstrated an understanding of the phonetic alphabet, improved understanding of the professional vocabulary used by the speech-language pathologists, a beginning sign language proficiency, and basic knowledge of speech-language and hearing services. Appendices include the evaluation survey and a listing of topics covered in the course. (Contains 12 references.)

ERIC Accession Number: ED401664

Validating The Student's Culture In The Classroom

Facilitator's Manual with Video

Intercultural Development Research Association, 5835 Callaghan Road, Suite 350, Suite, San Antonio, TX 78228; (210) 684-8180; $8.50 for manual; $49.50 for video

Material focuses on valuing each studentâs cultural diversity. Recognizes that program effectiveness will be enhanced with an increased parental involvement. Much emphasis is placed on the family and school relationship. Shows that the self-esteem of the students will increase as the educators become aware of culturally diverse needs.

Paraeducator Roles and Responsibilities

Linking Low-Income Families To Children's Mental Health Services: An Outcome Study

Koroloff, Nancy M.; and others
Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders; v4 n1 p2-11 Jan 1996
Available from UMI

An intervention designed to address barriers to access to children's mental health services for low-income families was implemented in three Oregon counties. Paraprofessionals provided families with information, emotional support, and tangible assistance. Families in the intervention group (n=96) were significantly more likely to initiate children's mental health services than families in the comparison group (n=143).

ERIC Accession Number: EJ518054

Notetaking Programs: Starting Out Right!

Yarger, Carmel Collum
Perspectives in Education and Deafness; v15 n1 p6-8,20-21 Sep 1996

Describes the roles and responsibilities of notetaking paraprofessionals in assisting students with hearing impairments. Guidelines are provided for initiating a notetaking program, including how to facilitate timely distribution of notes, organize notes, choose notetaking materials, establish work areas in each classroom, and foster student independence.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ544397

Roles For Education Paraprofessionals In Effective Schools: An Idea Book

Leighton, Mary S.; O'Brien, Eileen; Walking Eagle, Karen; Weiner, Lisa; Wimberly, George; Youngs, Peter
Policy Studies Associates, Inc., Washington, DC., 120 pp., 1997

Educational paraprofessionals can provide strong, multidimensional support for students' academic success. The first part of this book presents information on roles for education paraprofessionals in effective schools, focusing on the history of paraprofessionals as multifaceted members of the schools staff, the work of paraprofessionals, how to assess whether paraprofessionals can help, and elements of good paraprofessional practice. The second part offers an overview of 15 effective programs nationwide that employ paraprofessionals. The programs include: early childhood education, Title I instruction, Head Start, parent participation, school employee effectiveness training, site-based management, career development, and bilingual pupil services. The third part of the book profiles the 15 effective programs in detail. The three appendixes present listings of paraprofessional job titles and descriptions, profile sites and contacts, and information on Federal student aid programs. (Contains 25 references.)

ERIC Accession Number: ED413317

Team Approach To School Counseling: Rationale For The Use Of Paraprofessionals

McCollum, Vivian J. Carroll

15 pp., 1996

School counselors' duties have multiplied over the years, requiring counselors to be involved with nearly every aspect of school operation. Ways in which paraprofessionals can help school counselors meet these demands are described in this paper. Counselors must provide crisis intervention, group and individual counseling, classroom guidance, consultation with other school staff and parents, coordination of community activities, scheduling, record keeping, and a host of other services. Many of these tasks, it is suggested, can be completed by a trained paraprofessional, leaving the counselor available to deal with the increasing numbers of intervention-seeking students. These paraprofessionals, who are trained or skilled in human services, work alongside the professional counselor, serving as guidance aides, clerical aides, and coordination aides. Such duties can then free counselors to fulfill their primary duties, such as the counseling function, the consultation function, and the coordination function, in which they act as a liaison between school and community agencies. Some guidelines for implementing a counselor/paraprofessional relationship are offered. School counselors are advised to persuade administrators that a team approach to counseling can result in more effective service.

ERIC Accession Number: ED412478

Paraeducator Supervision

A Case Study Of A Speech-Language Pathologist's Supervision Of Assistants In A School Setting: Tracy's Story

French, Nancy K.
Journal of Children's Communication Development; v18 n1 p103-09 Spring-Summer 1997

This case study describes the experiences of a newly graduated speech-language pathologist working in a small urban school district with a series of speech-language assistants who have various levels of qualifications and personality types. It illustrates how professional supervision skills, preservice paraprofessional training, professional/paraprofessional role distinctions, hiring practices, pay, and working conditions influence and affect the use of paraprofessionals.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ550635

Colleagues In The Classroom

A Video-Assisted Program for Teaching Supervision Skills
220 pp. text and 6 videotapes plus materials
Technology, Research, and Innovation in Special Education (TRI-SPED)
Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation
Utah State University
Logan, Utah 84322-2865
(877) 722-3991; web site

Designed to provide teachers with practical skills necessary to work with paraeducators. Addresses skills related to supervision, team building, and development of positive, goal-directed partnerships within the classroom team. Teachers can participate in the training program by working in small groups or teachers and paraeducators can participate together. Can be used as in-service training or as a graduate-level seminar. Addresses topics such as developing a teacherâs leadership role, clarifying roles and responsibilities, strengthening interpersonal communication, pre-empting or solving supervision problems, building a classroom team, and evaluating staff performance. Can be completed in 25-40 hours. Can be used with companion program, Enhancing Skills of Paraeducators (Salzberg, Morgan, Gassman, Merrill, and Pickett, 1993).

A Consultation And Paraprofessional Pull-In System Of Service Delivery: A Report On Student Outcomes And Teacher Satisfaction

Welch, Marshall; and others
Remedial and Special Education; v16 n1 p16-28 Jan 1995
>Available from UMI

This article presents results of evaluation of an educational partnership approach, the Consultation and Paraprofessional Pull-In System (CAPPS), for serving at-risk students and those with mild academic disabilities. The program synthesizes the resource/consulting teacher role, pull-in programming, and utilization of paraprofessionals for service delivery. Quantitative and qualitative evaluation findings are detailed.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ497554

Impact Of Teacher Education Courses On Paraprofessionals' Job Performance, Knowledge, And Goals

Gittman, Elizabeth; Berger, Randie
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Northeastern Educational Research Association, 15 pp., October 22, 1997

A four-year private suburban college and a city public school district collaboratively provided teacher education courses to paraprofessionals working with special needs students in general education classes. The two teacher education courses, offered on the school district's premises, were Teaching, Learning, and Growth and Instructional Strategies and Classroom Management. A group of 28 teachers and administrators responded to a questionnaire about the job performance of 26 paraprofessionals who completed the courses, and 22 paraprofessionals who finished the courses also completed a questionnaire. The teacher/administrator questionnaire asked about their current position in the school, years of experience, awareness of the paraprofessional's enrollment in the course, and beliefs about change in the paraprofessional's behaviors related to working with students with disabilities. The paraprofessional questionnaire asked about educational background, current position, experience, and beliefs about course effectiveness and impact. In an essay, paraprofessionals discussed whether or not they responded differently to student behavior following the course. Results indicated that course participants had improved job performance and greater knowledge of course content and their occupational roles in the classroom. Participants believed they understood and responded to student behavior more appropriately since taking the courses. Many indicated an intention to continue college level study and pursue a career in teaching.

ERIC Accession Number: ED416186

Organizing For Effective Paraprofessional Services In Special Education

Miramontes, Ofelia B
Remedial and Special Education, v. 12 (Jan./Feb. 1991) p. 29-36+
A multilingual/multiethnic instructional service team model.

The Paraeducator And Teacher Team

Strategies for Success (six workbooks)
Kent Gerlach
Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA

Pacific Lutheran University Bookstore, Attn: Mark Stevens, 121st Park Avenue, Tacoma, Washington 98447; telephone 253-535-7666; fax 253-536-5029; $15 each plus $1.50 each for postage and handling

This training program is designed to provide administrators, teachers, and paraeducators with the knowledge and skills necessary to better utilize paraeducators in the classroom and to strengthen the paraeducator-teacher team. The participant workbooks are as follows: 1) Roles, Responsibilities, and Ethical Issues; 2) Communication and Team Building; 3) Time Management for Teams; 4) Behavior Management; 5) Reading for Success; and 6) Effective Instruction. Each includes exercises, worksheets, checklists, guidelines, readings, and other practical approaches to building the team.Ê The workbooks are compiled in ring binders so that the pages can be removed for photocopying.

Peer Coaching Within An Early Childhood Interdisciplinary Setting

Miller, Susan Peterson
Intervention in School and Clinic, v. 30 (Nov. 1994) p. 109-13

The writer discusses the establishment of coaching partnerships across disciplines in an early childhood setting. Peer coaching is the assistance that one teacher provides to another in the development of teaching skills, strategies, or techniques. A special education teacher, a paraprofessional, and a social work graduate-school intern agreed to teach in a pilot early childhood program for children at risk in special education services. The program director provided them with a one-hour in-service on peer coaching, discussed the rationale for peer coaching, discussed ways to implement peer coaching strategies, conducted several 15-minute observations of the participants, and then initiated the first coaching session. The participants agreed to coach and cue one another just before the start of a class and to give verbal feedback on the peer's performance after the class. Results reveal that the formal coaching session and the subsequent informal peer coaching session were effective for improving teacher performance.

Supervising Paraeducators In School Settings

A Team Approach
Anna Lou Pickett and Kent Gerlach, editors, 279 pp., 1997
Pro-Ed, 8700 Shoal Creek Boulevard, Austin, Texas 78757-6897
Order No. 8367, $29 plus shipping (U.S. 10%, Canada 15%, Foreign 20%)
(800) 897-3202

Teachers and related services personnel are increasingly becoming responsible for supervising paraeducators and other support staff. This text contains practical information and activities for preparing teachers, speech-language pathologists, occupational and physical therapists, and administrators to work effectively with paraeducators in schools. Guidelines and strategies for improving the performance, management, staff development, and professional advancement opportunities for paraeducators and provided. Chapters: (1) Paraeducators in School Settings: Framing the Issues (Pickett); (2) Team Roles in Instructional Settings (Lynn Safarik); (3) Team Roles in Therapy Services (Thomas M. Longhurst); (4) Management of Paraeducators (Nancy K. French); (5) Team Building: Communication and Problem Solving (Gerlach and Patty Lee); (6) Professional and Ethical Responsibilities of Team Members (William Heller); (7) Paraeducators in School Settings: Administrative Issues (Stan Vasa and Allen Steckelberg); (8) Paraeducators in School Settings: The Future (Pickett and Gerlach).

Supervisory Training For Teachers: Multiple, Long-Term Effects In An Education Program For Adults With Severe Disabilities

Jensen, Joyce M; Parsons, Marsha B; Reid, Dennis H
Research in Developmental Disabilities, v. 19 no. 6 (Nov./Dec. 1998) p. 449-63

We evaluated a means of training special education teachers in supervisory strategies for improving specific teaching-related performances of their paraprofessional, teacher assistants. Using classroom-based instruction and on-the-job monitoring and feedback, seven teachers were trained to systematically observe the data collection and teaching performances of their assistants as well as to provide contingent feedback. The supervisory training for teachers, evaluated using a multiple-probe design across groups of assistants, was accompanied by improvements in data collection performances among seven of eight assistants. Improvement in other teaching skill applications also occurred. The improved performance among the assistants was maintained across a 17-month follow-up period. The supervisory training seemed to have multiple benefits in that the teachers' own teaching-related performances improved once teachers were trained to systematically observe and provide feedback to their assistants. The need for continued research is discussed to evaluate the benefits of supervisory training to improve and maintain other important areas of staff performance.

Teacher And Paraprofessional Relationship

Palma, Gloria M.
Rural Special Education Quarterly; v13 n4 p46-48 Fall 1994

Discusses importance of paraprofessionals in rural special education. Suggests that positive teacher-paraprofessional relationships are obtained through valuing each other's respective roles; giving credit where due; involving paraprofessionals in planning and decision making; showing paraprofessionals the why as well as the how of lessons; providing instructions using we and us, instead of you; providing verbal and nonverbal feedback.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ495406

Paraeducator Training Materials

Advanced Skills Of Specialists In Employment Training (ASSET)

Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, Utah State University, 1996; 6 VHS tapes, 375 pp. Instructors manual, and 4 copies of 320-page specialistâs workbook ($375)

Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, Utah State University, Logan, Utah 84322-2865; (801) 797-2329

A comprehensive, competency-based training program for entry-level supported employment specialists. Includes a manual for instructors, a workbook for specialists, and video material showing community jobs. The program can be delivered in brief workshops, a series of intense instructional sessions, or college courses. It emphasizes advancement of practical skills with exercises for specialists to apply procedures in work settings. Unit 1: Introduction to Supported Employment; Unit 2: Job Marketing and Development; Unit 3: Assessment Procedures; Unit 4: Job-Based Instructional Procedures; Unit 5: Behavioral Intervention Procedures.

Before The Bell Rings: What Every Paraeducator Should Know

Agency for Instructional Technology, Customer Service Department, Box A, Bloomington, IN 47402-0210; 1996; 6-part video and facilitators guide ($295); 1-800-457-4509

A video and print workshop resource to prepare education teams to implement ongoing professional development programs for paraeducators in pre-school, elementary, and secondary education. Train paraeducators to communicate more effectively with teachers, administrators, parents, and students. Define the roles and responsibilities of paraeducators, especially in relation to the education team. Develop paraeducators problem-solving and behavior management techniques. Prepare paraeducators to actively practice your districtâs professional and ethical standards of conduct. Guide includes workshop agendas, overhead masters, follow-up activities to each part of video, and listings of additional resources.

Beyond The Sandbox: Teaching Assistants In Early Childhood Education

Indiana Preschool Initiative, Center for Innovative Practices for Young Children, Institute for the Study of Developmental Disabilities and the Indiana Department of Education, Division of Special Education

ISDD, Attn: CeDIR, 2853 E. 10th St., Bloomington, IN 47408-2601 or fax to (812) 855-9630; $25 plus $3.75 shipping and handling

Videotape demonstrates the valuable role of teaching assistants; initiates dialogue about specific situations covered in video; helps administrators understand the changing role of teaching assistants; helps parents better understand the importance of teaching assistants and their link between family, teacher, and child.

Bilingual Special Education Training Of Trainers Institute

Bueno Center For Multicultural Education, Campus Box 249, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0249

Training Modules include: Cultural Pluralism and Exceptionality, Cross-cultural Language Acquisition and Communication, Second Language Acquisition, Communication and Learning, Collaboration in the Mainstream, Classroom Management and Curriculum Development, Cognitive Learning Styles and Strategies, and Adapting Instruction for Diverse Learners.

Crossroads Cafe: An Esol Program For Adult Leanrers

Formative Evaluation Study

Seymour Spiegel, Project Director, and Irene C. Rayman, Evaluation Analyst; CASE Report #01-97

Center for Advanced Study in Education, 365 Fifth Avenue, Suite 3300, New York, NY 10016; 36 pp.; 1997

Findings of a formative evaluation of Crossroads Cafe, an ESOL Adult Learning Program, a distance learning adult level video program designed to teach English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). The research focused on how 22 programs were implemented in 6 different regions of New York State- what worked, what didn't, and why. The program is designed to teach English to adult learners working independently without an instructor present. It is targeted to individuals who are literate in their native language and who have some proficiency in writing and speaking English. The main component of the learning program is a series of 26 half-hour episodes about six ethnically diverse characters whose lives intersect at Crossroads Cafe, a neighborhood restaurant. Collateral work units support the videos with exercises designed to develop story comprehension, language skills, and higher order thinking. Two resource books are also available to teachers. A Partner Guide offers suggestions and reproducible masters for an English proficient non-professional friend and family member who can guide the learner in his or her study of English.

Early Childhood: The Role Of The Paraprofessional

Module Five. Facilitator's Edition [and] Student's Edition. Strategies for Paraprofessionals Who Support Individuals with Disabilities Series

Rush, Karen

Hutchinson Technical Coll., MN; Minnesota State Board of Technical Colleges, St. Paul; Minnesota State Dept. of Education, St. Paul.; Minnesota Univ., Minneapolis. Institute on Community Integration, 1995, 347 pp.

University of Minnesota, The Institute on Community Integration (UAP), 150 Pillsbury Drive, S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455 ($25 facilitator edition; $15 student edition)

The fifth in a series of federally supported modules for training paraprofessional school personnel who work with students with disabilities, this module focuses on early childhood education needs of children with disabilities. Both a facilitator's edition and a student's edition are provided. Chapter 1 presents material on fundamentals and legal foundations of early intervention and the roles and responsibilities of paraprofessionals. Chapter 2 describes the basic principles of child development and developmental domains. Individualized Education Plans, the assessment of the child and family, and development of instructional goals and objectives are discussed in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 focuses on the classroom, with information on appropriate practices, instructional techniques, and monitoring progress. The needs of families are evaluated in Chapter 5, which examines working with families, the development of cross-cultural competence, community integration, and the paraprofessional's role. Seven appendices include: a handout on accessible child care, a listing of model learner outcomes, a sample Individualized Education Plan form, an Individualized Family Service Plan form, articles on behavior management, a play checklist, and a family needs survey. The facilitator's edition offers learning activities and information sheets to be used as transparencies. (Contains 22 references.)

ERIC Accession Number: ED398698

A Core Curriculum &Amp; Training Program To Prepare Paraeducators To Work In Center &Amp; Home Based Programs For Young Children With Disabilities From Birth To Age Five

Pickett, Anna Lou; Faison, Karen; Formanek, John; and Semrau, Barbara

Center for Advanced Study in Education, City University of New York, NY, 1999, second edition, 228 pp.

These instructional materials are designed to provide personnel developers and trainers with resources that can be used to improve the performance of paraeducators working in center-based and home visitor programs for young children with disabilities from birth to age 5. The modules cover: (1) roles of paraeducators working in inclusive environments for young children; (2) communication and team-building skills; (3) human and legal rights of children and youth with disabilities and their families; (4) human development; (5) the instructional process (individualized education and family services plans, assessment, data collection, goals and objectives, instructional interventions, and facilitating inclusion using developmentally appropriate activities); (6) working with families; (7) appreciating diversity; and (8) emergency, health, and safety procedures. The format for the instructional modules includes: instructional objectives, equipment and resources required, suggested training activities and exercises, background information for the trainer, and handouts and transparencies. Training procedures involve small group discussions, brainstorming, problem solving, case studies, and role plays. (References accompany each module.)

ERIC Accession Number: ED366142

A Core Curriculum &Amp; Training Program To Prepare Paraeducators To Work In Inclusive Classrooms Serving School Age Students With Disabilities

Pickett, Anna Lou; Faison, Karen; and Formanek, John

Center for Advanced Study in Education, City University of New York, NY, 1999, second edition, 210 pp.

These instructional materials are designed to improve the performance of paraeducators working with school-age students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms. The modules cover: (1) roles of paraeducators working in inclusive classrooms; (2) communication and team-building skills; (3) human and legal rights of children and youth with disabilities and their families; (4) human development; (5) the instructional process (individualized education plans, assessment, data collection, goals and objectives, instructional interventions, strategies for tutoring and reinforcing lessons, teaching reading, teaching arithmetic and mathematics, and teaching language arts); (6) appreciating diversity; and (7) emergency, health, and safety procedures. The format for the instructional modules includes: instructional objectives, equipment and resources required, suggested training activities and exercises, background information for the trainer, and handouts and transparencies. Training procedures involve small group discussions, brainstorming, problem solving, case studies, and role plays. (References accompany each module.)

ERIC Accession Number: ED366141

Core Curriculum To Prepare Paraprofessionals To Work With English Language Learners


A Core Curriculum &Amp; Training Program To Prepare Paraeducators To Work In Transitional Services And Supported Employment Programs

Pickett, Anna Lou; Faison, Karen; Formanek, John; and Wood, James

Center for Advanced Study in Education, City University of New York, NY, 1999, second edition, 209 pp.

These instructional materials are designed to improve the performance of paraeducators working in transitional services and supported employment for teenagers and young adults with disabilities. The competency-based program helps participants to learn skills they can apply immediately, to accept new practices, and to increase their understanding of education issues. The modules cover: (1) roles of paraeducators working in transitional and vocational services; (2) communication and team-building skills; (3) human and legal rights of children and youth with disabilities and their families; (4) human development; (5) the instructional process (individualized education and transition plans, assessment, data collection, goals and objectives, and instructional interventions); (6) working with families; (7) appreciating diversity; and (8) emergency, health, and safety procedures. The format for the instructional modules includes: instructional objectives, equipment and resources required, suggested training activities and exercises, background information for the trainer, and handouts and transparencies. Training procedures involve small group discussions, brainstorming, problem solving, case studies, and role plays. (References accompany each module.)

ERIC Accession Number: ED366140

Enhancing Skills of Paraeducators: A Video-Assisted Program Second Edition

Robert L. Morgan, David E. Forbush, Deanna Avis

Available through TRI-SPED (Technology, Research, and Innovation in
Special Education, Utah State University, 6523 Old Main, Logan, UT
84322-6523. Toll-free at 1-877-722-3991.

Now in its second edition, Enhancing Skills of Paraeducators (ESP 2) is a comprehensive, competency-based, field-tested curriculum for paraeducators and includes a 300-page manual, 73 video exercises (3 hours of video), 5 knowledge tests, and 10 school-based application (skill) exercises. After reading assignments, individuals or groups of trainees watch video exercises of school situations and discuss how to respond. Then, trainees carry out application assignments in school settings. Topics include communicating with students who have special needs, behavior intervention, behavior assessment, communicating with teachers and IEP Team members, using assertive communication, understanding issues faced by families and persons from other cultures or ethnic backgrounds, clarifying roles and responsibilities, paraeducator roles in the IEP, student assessment, and classroom management, assistive technology, record keeping, IDEA, Title I, Section 504, FERPA, ADA, ethical standards, professional conduct, and knowledge and skills required of paraeducators. Video material also includes interviews with a student who is blind, a student who is deaf, a student who uses a communication board, and three families who have a child with special needs. A facilitator's guide provides guidance, ideas, and resources for instructors. Six manuals, five videos, and the facilitator's guide are available for $395.

Expanding Traditional Roles In Vocational Work Experience Programs

A Course for Preparation of Paraeducators

Pat Haley, Chuck Steury, and Gail Westlin

CRDC Publications, Attn: V. Klum, PO Box 574, Portland, OR 97207; $25; 1993

Focuses on upgrading skills of paraeducators working with special needs students in vocational settings. The manual features: Nine broad competency training areas; over 30 relevant, motivating, field-tested activities; pages ready to be made into transparencies; suggested training schedule; bibliography of related services and materials.

Handbook For The Care Of Infants, Toddlers, And Young Children With Disabilities And Chronic Conditions

Karajicek, Marilyn; Steinke, Geraldine; Hertzberg, Dalice L.; Anastasiow, Nicholas; and Sandall, Susan, editors; 446 pp.; 1997

Pro-Ed, 8700 Shoal Creek Boulevard, Austin, Texas 78757-6897; order no. 8376

Offered by the First Start Program to help early childhood personnel "to see the child before the disability." Faculty and consultants in child care, health, education, and early intervention describe chronic conditions and illnesses among children with disabilities. Organized into: Human Development, Chronic Conditions, Care Needs, and Communication and Community Support. Major conditions are explained, followed by descriptions of related special needs and guidance toward achieving best-practice recommendations for meeting them. Can also be used as a ready reference. Includes extensive bibliography and glossary.

The Hanen Program For Early Childhood Educators: Inservice Training For Child Care Providers On How To Facilitate Children's Social, Language, And Literacy Development

Weitzman, Elaine

Infant Toddler Intervention: The Transdisciplinary Journal; v4 n3 p173-202 Sep 1994

The Hanen Program for Early Childhood Educators provides caregivers in child care centers with on-site training in facilitating children's social, language, and literacy development. The program is conducted by a speech-language pathologist and consists of seven group training sessions and six individual videotaping sessions with feedback. A case study illustrates the program's effectiveness.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ491063

An Innovative Model For Training Orientation And Mobility Assistants

Wiener, W.R.

Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness; v87 n5 p134-37 May 1993

A model was developed to prepare specialists in orientation and mobility (O&M) who work with people with visual impairments, with the specialists in turn training and supervising O&M assistants. The project developed curriculum guidelines, training methods, a national workshop, and regional seminars.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ465475

Instructional Conversations: Understanding Through Discussion

The National Resource Center for Research on Cultural Diversity and Second Language Learning, video with resource book

Bilingual Research Center, UCSC, Social Science II, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064; $40; (408) 459-3351

This video was taped in a Southern California public school where students were transitioning into mainstream English. The style depicted and promoted in this video is referenced as "Instructional Conversation (I.C.)." This approach is noted for the importance of construction of knowledge as opposed to direct transmission of information from a teacher to a student. I.C.âs are comprised of ten elements, five instructional and five conversational. These components are: 1) thematic focus, 2) activation and use of background knowledge and relevant schemata, 3) direct teaching, 4) promotion of more complex language and expression, 5) elicitation of bases for statements or positions, 6) using few "known-answer" questions, 7) response to student contributions, 8) connected discourse, 9) a challenging, but non-threatening atmosphere, and 10) general participation, including self-selected turns.

Instructional Leadership For The Rural Special Educator: Final Report

Hofmeister, Alan M.; and others

Utah State Univ., Logan. Center for Persons with Disabilities, 1996, 61 pp.

This project addressed the need for training materials for paraeducators in their roles as members of the instructional team, and for teachers as classroom executives who lead that team. Paraprofessional personnel in this project include paid aides, volunteers, cross-age tutors, and parents instructing children in the schools. The three objectives of the project were: (1) training in effective teaching/instruction; (2) training for paraprofessionals; and (3) the executive functions of teaching. Formative and summative field tests in rural sites were conducted to ensure that effective, generalizable, and replicable training programs had been developed that were competency-based and field-based, and feasible within budget constraints. The project training materials and programs were designed to be easily exportable to district level, school sites, or individual classrooms. The materials, training activities and participants, facilitators, dissemination, and methodological issues are discussed in terms of project objectives. While the first year of the project was largely devoted to the development of materials, the subsequent 3 years saw training of 4,630 paraprofessionals and teachers. In addition to direct training of teachers and paraprofessionals, conferences and presentations were often attended by supervisors, state and district level administrators, and university personnel. Study data are included in tables. Appendices include Gantt Charts for the years of the study and sample forms from the training programs.

ERIC Accession Number: ED401264

Instructional Strategies For Crosscultural Students With Special Education Needs

Training Manual


Video Tape

Resources in Special Education, 650 Howe Av., Suite 300, Sacramento, CA 95825

The training manual is divided into three sections: a) understanding cross-cultural issues for the appropriate placement of culturally and linguistically diverse exceptional students in special education, b) instructional issues, and c) instructional strategies for use with the core curriculum in the special education classroom. The video tape covers use of alternative instructional techniques and student study teams for exceptional students from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

The Medically Fragile Child In The School Setting

A Resource Guide for the Educational Team

American Federation of Teachers; 34 pp. plus appendices; 1992

AFT, 555 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001; item #451; $1.50 for members, $5.00 for non-members

Produced by the AFT's Ad Hoc Committee on Health Care Responsibilities in Special Education. Contains research on medically fragile children in schools. Designed to educate AFT members on their roles and responsibilities with students and their rights as employees. It outlines possible solutions and protections for local unions to pursue on behalf of their members.

Missouri-Tikes: Training Individuals To Care For Exceptional Children Outreach Project

Final Report

Busch, Robert F.

Missouri Univ., Columbia, 1996, 82 pp.

This final report describes activities and accomplishments of the M-TIKES (Missouri-Training Individuals to Care for Exceptional Students) Outreach Project, which used a "train-the-trainer" model to increase the number of child care providers trained to integrate children with and without disabilities. The project's major objectives were to provide child caregivers with information needed to mainstream children with disabilities into child care settings and to increase child caregivers' knowledge about child development and appropriate adaptations for children with disabilities. The project's curriculum consists of an inservice training component and an on-site collaboration and consultation component. A nine-part videotape series was also developed. The project resulted in the training of 265 child caregivers, an increase in the number of childcare facilities accepting preschool children with disabilities, a replicable inservice training model, and curriculum materials. Individual sections of the report cover the following aspects of the project: goals, philosophy, description of model and participants, research, method, measures, results, and impact. Appendices include a description of each videotape, the needs assessment form, a sample training agenda, a listing of sites and facilitators trained, an inservice evaluation scale, and a form for observing caregiver behavior. (Contains 23 references.)

ERIC Accession Number: ED392220

Multicultural Perspectives In The Classroom: Professional Preparation For Educational Paraprofessionals

Harper, Victoria

Action in Teacher Education; v16 n3 p66-78 Fall 1994

Theme issue title: "Celebrating Diversity in Teacher Education"

Available from UMI

Paraprofessionals often represent the closest linking of language and culture between communities and schools, taking the lead in teaching second-language learners. Their lack of professional education can create situations where the neediest children are served by the least prepared adults. The article suggests a professional career ladder for paraprofessionals.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ498432

North Dakota's Rural Training Projects: Past, Present And Future

Vassiliou, Demetrios; Johnson, Dave

In: Reaching to the Future: Boldly Facing Challenges in Rural Communities. Conference Proceedings of the American Council on Rural Special Education (ACRES) (Las Vegas, Nevada, March 15-18, 1995); see RC 020 016, 9 pp., 1995

This paper describes the North Dakota Statewide Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities Facility Staff Training Program. For the past 10 years, the training program, in association with Minot State University, has been available to agencies and their employees who provide services to individuals with developmental disabilities in rural areas. Full-time direct service staff are required to demonstrate knowledge and skills in topic areas addressed in 14 training modules. These skills are taught at provider sites by certified regional trainers. In addition to entry level certification, the program offers advanced certification, an associate of arts degree in developmental disabilities, a bachelor of science degree in mental retardation (non-teaching), and a master of science degree in special education. In October 1992, the North Dakota Center for Disabilities (NDCD) expanded the program to address the increasing demand for paraeducators, particularly in rural areas. In the project's first year, four pilot sites were selected and curriculum development was initiated. The second year saw an additional 14 special education units brought into the program, with the remaining 13 units joining in the third year. Areas of training were developed according to the surveyed needs of program participants and consist of initial and advanced levels of certification. Training modules can be presented through large group instruction, small group format, on-the-job demonstrations, or self-instruction. Participant competencies are evaluated through pretests/posttests that accompany each training module. As federal funding ends, the NDCD has been actively seeking ways to preserve the program.

Orientation Level Training For Paraeducators In Lifting, Transferring And Positioning (1999)
Orientation Level Training For Paraeducators Working With Students With Special Health Care Needs (1998)
Orientation Level Training For School Employees Who Administer Oral Medications To Students (1999)

Paraeducator Project, Washington Education Association

Washington Education Association, 33434 8th Avenue, Federal Way, WA 98003

Manuals are intended as a resource for paraeducators upon completion of the Orientation Level Training, not a substitute for specific training or for delegation and supervision. Describes population served and step-by-step procedures and scenarios for meeting their needs. Includes illustrations and representative documents.

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Paraeducators: Lifelines In The Classroom

Melding: Training Module for Partner Teachers who Supervise Special Education Paraeducators

Mary W. Lasater, Ed.D., Marlene M. Johnson, Ed.D., Mary M. Fitzgerald, M.Ed., LR Consulting, POB 6049-747, Katy, TX 77491-6049

LifeLines is a comprehensive series of six trainng modules developed to prepare pre-service and in-service paraeducators during staff development and mentoring opportunities. The modules incorporate experimential learning activities, as well as left and right brain activities to ensure that the needs of a variety of adult learners will be met. Each user-friendly module includes activity notes, overhead and handout masters, and resource section. ParaEducators: LifeLines in the Classroom includes six modules:

  • Module 1: Defining the Role of the Paraeducator
  • Module 2: Celebrating Similarities: Students with Disabilities
  • Module 3: The IEP Process: The Role of the Paraeducator
  • Module 4: Supporting the Instructional Process
  • Module 5: Behavior Improvement Strategies
  • Module 6: Least Restrictive Environment and the Role of the Paraeducator

Access to learn more about specific objectives covered in each of the modules. For a review of LifeLines, see Teacher Education and Special Education, v21, n2, 150-153, 1998.

Price $825 per set of modules or $150 for individual modules.

Melding, a training module for partner teachers on how to mentor and coach paraeducators is also written in the same format as lifelines and parallels the module series. Price: $150 for the module.

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A Paraprofessional's Handbook

Working with Students Who are Visually Impaired

Cyral Miller and Nancy Levack, Editors, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, 176 pp., 1997.

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Business Office, 1100 West 45th Street, Austin, Texas 78756-3494

Designed to help vision teachers and paraprofessionals share basic information needed to work with students who are visually impaired. Also for wider community of regular teachers, school support staff, parents, and community members, Chapters can be used as needed to support short inservice sessions. Sections: Overview (role of paraprofessionals and explanation of visual impairments), Social Skills, Daily Living Skills, Orientation and Mobility Skills, Technology, Adaptation, Students with Multiple Impairments, and an Appendix.

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Paraprofessionals: The Bridge To Successful Full Inclusion

Wadsworth, Donna E.; Knight, Diane

Intervention in School and Clinic; v31 n3 p166-71 Jan 1996

Available from UMI

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.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ516186

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Piecing Together The Paraprofessional Puzzle


Carol Long

Instructional Media Laboratory, University of Missouri-Columbia, 2316 Industrial Drive, Columbia, MO 65202 or call 1-800-669-2465; $9.00

Provides framework for orientation and training of paraprofessional in his/her initial year of employment. The goals are to facilitate the transition from novice to experienced paraprofessional by explaining various roles and functions of job, develop a district or building job description for paraprofessional, clarify concept of confidentiality, understand the special education process and the procedures used by district to evaluate and diagnose students, and know the different methods for observing and recording behavior.

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Positive Behavior Strategies For Paraprofessionals

Module Four. Facilitator's Edition [and] Student's Edition. Strategies for Paraprofessionals Who Support Individuals with Disabilities Series

Hewitt, Amy; Langenfeld, Karen

Hutchinson Technical Coll., MN; Minnesota State Board of Technical Colleges, St. Paul; Minnesota State Dept. of Education, St. Paul.; Minnesota Univ., Minneapolis. Institute on Community Integration, 1995, 217 pp.

University of Minnesota, The Institute on Community Integration (UAP), 150 Pillsbury Drive, SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455 ($25 facilitator edition; $15 student edition)

The fourth in a series of federally supported modules for training paraprofessional school personnel who work with students with disabilities, this module presents principles and techniques of behavior management. Both a facilitator's edition and a student's edition are provided. Chapter 1 introduces the concept of behavior and the role of the consequences and antecedents in the environment. Chapter 2 offers guidelines on creating positive learning experiences. It also discusses development of a positive reinforcement plan and common questions about reinforcement techniques. An overview of challenging behavior is given in Chapter 3. The cost-benefit analysis of changing behavior and the three-factor theory are discussed. Chapter 4 focuses on alternatives to challenging behaviors, including overcoming avoidance. Chapter 5 gives guidance on using behavioral interventions with students and what to do in an emergency. An appendix defines and explains the appropriate use of controlled or regulated procedures (such as use of restraints, or temporary delay of meals or water) under Minnesota Law. The facilitator's edition offers learning activities and information sheets to be used as transparencies. (Contains 52 references.)

ERIC Accession Number: ED398697

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Preparing Para-Professoional Early Interventionists (PPEI)

Manual and videotape

Samuel Baird

Communication Skill Builders, P.O. Box 42050-Cs4, Tucson, Arizona 84733 or call (602) 323-7500; $79

Curriculum developed to help professional early interventionists provide training for paraprofessionals so that they will become valued and respected contributors to early intervention team. Addresses basic and generic early intervention issues. Used to prepare paraprofessionals to extend the impact of professional early interventionists and to assist with implementing IFSPâs that provide family support, child development, and infant-parent services.

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Profile Of Effective Teaching In A Multilingual Classroom

The National Resource Center for Research on Cultural Diversity and Second Language Learning, video with resource book

Bilingual Research Center, UCSC, Social Science II, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064; $40; (408) 459-3351

The video starts with the acquisition of language skills through math. Students with various language and cultural backgrounds (chronological grade approximately middle school) can easily work mathematical equations as numbers are a universal language. Students are taught to grammatically pronounce numbers and to read math problems. Additionally, they are taught to use Venn diagrams as a way of collecting data for comparison and contrast reports. By integrating math with language skills, each student is afforded the opportunity to build a vocabulary as well as develop their problem-solving skills. Instructors are encouraged to speak slowly, use visual demonstrations, and provide gestures wherever possible. Learning strategies are modeled in every subject matter. Teachers emphasize the importance of reading the text headings, look at graphics and pictures, and skim bold printed material. Instructors are encouraged to engage in thematic learning while continuously drawing upon the students cultural heritage.

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Providing Cross-Cultural Support Services To Individuals With Disabilities And Their Families

Module Two. Facilitator's Edition [and] Student's Edition. Strategies for Paraprofessionals Who Support Individuals with Disabilities Series

Slobof, Jenelle; and others

Hutchinson Technical Coll., MN.; Minnesota State Board of Technical Colleges, St. Paul.; Minnesota State Dept. of Education, St. Paul.; Minnesota Univ., Minneapolis. Inst. on Community Integration, 1996, 265 pp.

University of Minnesota, The Institute on Community Integration (UAP), 150 Pillsbury Drive, SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455 ($25 facilitator edition; $15 student edition)

This module presents information for training paraprofessional school staff on providing cross-cultural support services to individuals with disabilities and their families. Both a facilitator's edition and a student's edition are provided. Chapter 1 offers an introduction to diversity and direct service and includes sections on terminology and cultural competence. Chapter 2 discusses self-identification and ways to learn about other cultures. Chapter 3 provides information on institutional cultural competence, including institutional and media bias. Individual cultural competence is discussed in chapter 4. Chapter 5 looks at similarities and differences between cultures. Using culturally sensitive and inclusive language is reviewed in chapter 6. Chapter 7 gives tips on being a culturally competent paraprofessional. Chapter 8 reviews previous information. The facilitator's edition offers learning activities and information sheets to be used as transparencies. A glossary of terms and a resource list of videotapes, books, journal articles, newsletters, and other publications are appended. (Contains 17 references.)

ERIC Accession Number: ED398695

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The Teacher As An Executive

A Training Program for the Teacher as Leader of the Instructional Team

Betty Ashbaker and Jill Morgan

Center for Persons with Disabilities, 6800 Old Main Hill, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-6800; phone 435-797-7001 or fax 435-797-9444; $40 plus shipping and handling

Designed to enhance the skills of the teacher as leader of the classroom instructional team. Contains chapters on: 1) the importance of effective instructional programs, including steps that can be taken to rectify the shortcomings in curricular materials; 2) teamwork, which clarifies roles and establishes expectations and examines communication styles and their impact on teamwork; 3) self-evaluation through observation, which introduces a simple yet effective classroom observation procedure for identifying and meeting the professional development needs of both teacher and paraeducator; 4) post-observation conferencing, which completes the observation procedure by providing a problem-solving approach to understanding classroom situations; and 5) training, addressing the questions of how to determine training needs, methods of delivery, and the assessment of effectiveness of training. It is in workbook format and can be used by a teacher working independently or as a participantâs manual in a group delivery format. Accompanying video contains clips of teachers and paraeducators at work and is used for illustration and evaluation purposes and for completion of assignments.

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Teamwork And Evaluation For Teachers And Paraeducators

Betty Ashbaker and Jill Morgan

Center for Persons with Disabilities, 6800 Old Main Hill, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-6800; phone 435-797-7001 or fax 435-797-9444; $40 plus shipping and handling

These materials allow teachers and paraeducators to examine their current teamwork and self-evaluation practices and set goals for changes in order to increase their effectiveness as an instructional team. Central feature is use of observation data as a tool for self-evaluation÷not as a threatening process. With the help of a colleague who collects data without passing judgment÷but who is then available to discuss the data÷they can evaluate their own performances and make improvements. Chapters cover: clarifying and understanding roles, more effective communication, collaboration, collecting observational data, self-evaluation for improvement of practice, and team conferencing. There are also review chapters on the basics of effective instruction and behavior management. Teamwork and Evaluation is in binder format and is designed as a workbook, facilitating planning both individually and as a team.

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A Training Program Designed To Develop Knowledgeable Paraprofessionals With Improved Job Performance Skills To Meet The Needs Of Teachers And Special Education Students

Davis, Julie H.

M.S. Final Report, Nova Southeastern University, 1995, 81 pp.

The paper reports on a practicum project to assess the training needs of paraprofessionals and to develop a training program to meet those needs. The first section of the paper is a literature review, which revealed few studies that have addressed the efficacy of paraprofessionals, though research that has been done indicates that paraprofessionals working with handicapped children have a direct effect on the students' academic performance. The literature also reveals that few states systematically train or certify paraprofessionals, and few universities teach preservice teachers how to utilize paraprofessionals in the classroom. The training program was designed to help improve the knowledge of disabilities, working relationships, and job performance skills of a target group of 12 special education paraprofessionals who work with K-2 students with handicaps in a rural Maine island school. Twenty-five skills were identified as those a paraprofessional should possess for job success; a needs assessment survey was administered to participants. Overall, entry skills and knowledge of the target group assessed ranged from 20 percent to 60 percent level of proficiency, well below the 80 percent or above level of proficiency preferred in the literature and among professionals surveyed for the study. The objectives for the program were for the paraprofessionals to increase their knowledge of disabilities, working relationships, and job performance skills by a program objective of 80 percent. The target group participated in a 12-week training session developed from a needs analysis assessment. Each of the weekly work sessions is described in the report. Project evaluations and assessments indicated that all program objectives were met, with the target group improving dramatically in all areas. Recommendations for staff development budget and expenditures, plus topics to be covered are outlined. Ten appendices provide: Maine Department of Education Special Education Regulations; Needs Assessment; Summary of Needs Assessment; Pretest for Paraprofessionals; Posttest for Paraprofessionals; Results of Pre-Assessment for Paraprofessionals; Summary of Results of Pre/Post Evaluations; Pre/Post Professional Evaluation of Paraprofessionals; Paraprofessional Training Evaluation; and Paraprofessional Certificate of Participation. (Contains 40 references.)

ERIC Accession Number: ED386430

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Sourcebook For Teaching Assistants In Early Childhood

Shelton, Gen, Editor; Indiana Preschool Initiative, Center for Innovative Practices for young Children, Institute for the Study of Developmental Disabilities; Foreword by Anna Lou Pickett, Director, National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals in Education and Related Services; 274 pp.; 1996

Center for Disability Information and Referral (CeDIR), Institute for the Study of Developmental Disabilities, The University Affiliated Program of Indiana, Indiana University-Bloomington, 2853 East Tenth Street, Bloomington, IN 47408-2601; telephone 812-855-6509; e-mail <>

Directed to Teaching Assistants and the teachers who work with them. Also useful to policymakers and personnel developers. Helps paraprofessionals and teachers how to define role as a team member, recognize the characteristics of a quality early childhood program, and use child development information to assist in the teaching process. Designed to be read over the course of a semester with time devoted to discussing a chapter weekly to enhance communication between adults in the classroom. Contains practical and theoretical knowledge. Sections: I) The Team--Staff and Families; II) The Program--Quality characteristics and Confidentiality; III) The Children--Growing and Learning; and IV) Appendices on disabilities, resources, and a glossary.

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Communication Skills and Strategies for Individuals Working with Children who Have Sensory Impairment (for children 3-8 years)

24 videotapes plus workbooks, $250

Hope Inc., 55 East 100 North, Suite 203, Logan, Utah 84321

435-752-9533; e-mail <>; web site <>

These 24 videotapes are especially for paraeducators, teacher aides, and teachers and feature skills and strategies for communicating effectively with young children who are sensory impaired. Topics include recognizing and responding to communication signals, building communication into daily routines, interactive turn-taking, active vs. passive communication, choice-making, avoiding communication stress, using calendar systems, motivating the child to communicate, encouraging peer interaction, using comments and questions, and play that encourages communication. Each video has an accompanying workbook and a laminated card with lesson tips.

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Working With Individuals Who Are Medically Fragile Or Have Physical Disabilities

Module Six. Facilitator's Edition [and] Student's Edition

Strategies for Paraprofessionals Who Support Individuals with Disabilities Series

Ness, Jean E.

Hutchinson Technical Coll., MN.; Minnesota State Board of Technical Colleges, St. Paul.; Minnesota State Dept. of Education, St. Paul.; Minnesota Univ., Minneapolis. Inst. on Community Integration, 1995; 597 pp.

University of Minnesota, The Institute on Community Integration (UAP), 150 Pillsbury Drive, S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455 ($25 facilitator edition; $15 student edition)

The sixth in a series of federally supported modules for training paraprofessional school personnel who work with students with disabilities, this module presents information on working with individuals who are medically fragile or have physical disabilities. Both a facilitator's edition and a student's edition are provided. Chapter 1 examines the changing roles of education related to students with disabilities. Chapter 2 investigates national demographics related to disabilities. Inclusive language is discussed in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 provides information on disability-related laws and abuse and neglect laws. The role of the school nurse and health paraprofessional are addressed in Chapter 5. Communication strategies and problem-solving techniques are described in Chapter 6. Chapter 7 provides information on teamwork. Chapter 8 discusses caring for individuals with different disabilities. Specific instructions for 10 different health procedures and general instructions for 7 others are provided in Chapters 9 and 10. Chapter 11 presents material on properly administering medication at school. Nineteen appendices provide extensive supplementary material, forms, and articles. The facilitator's edition offers learning activities and information sheets to be used as transparencies. (Contains 46 references.)


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Harrison, Barbara

Montessori Life; v6 n4 p26-27, Fall 1994

Theme Issue: "Spotlight: Public Schools."

Describes organizing and conducting workshops for adult teaching assistants in a Montessori public school setting. Includes contact information for obtaining similar workshop kits, with outlines, handouts, projects, and forms.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ499951

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The Young Adult Institute Video Series

Young Adult Institute

The Young Adult Institute, 460 W. 34th St., 11th floor, New York, NY 10001; or fax to (212) 629-4113; $95 for all videos except AIDS video which is $145

Titles include: Working with Families: What Professionals Need to Know, Clients Rights are Human Rights, Strategies for Changing Behavior: A Positive Approach, AIDS: Training People with Developmental Disabilities to Better Protect Themselves

Policy Questions and Administrative Issues

A Commonsense Guide To Bilingual Education

Chapter 5: Bilingual Teachers and Aides
Judith Lessow-Hurley
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Alexandria, VA; 92 pp., 1991
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1250 N. Pitt St., Alexandria, VA (Stock No. 611-91115, $6.95)

Guide analyzes current issues in bilingual education, reviews related research, describes innovative and exemplary program formats for dual-language programming, and examines issues in bilingual education for both limited-English-proficient (LEP) and monolingual native-English-speaking students. Chapter 5 discusses the roles of teachers and paraprofessionals in bilingual classrooms.

The Community Support Skill Standards: Tools For Managing Change And Achieving Outcomes

Skill Standards for Direct Service Workers in the Human Services
Marianne Taylor, Valerie Bradley, and Ralph Warren, Jr., editors; 86 pp.; 1996
Human Services Research Institute, 2336 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140; telephone 617-876-0426

Project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, is designed to foster the adoption of national, voluntary skill standards for direct service workers, increase both horizontal and vertical career opportunities for human service personnel, and to create a foundation for a nationally recognized, voluntary certification of direct service practitioners.

Employment, Preparation And Management Of Paraeducators: Challenges To Appropriate Service For Students With Developmental Disabilities

Hilton, Alan; Gerlach, Kent
Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities; v32 n2 p71-76 Jun 1997

Presents a position statement of the Board of Directors of the Division on Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities that reviews the employment, preparation, and management of paraeducators. The statement addresses role definition, employment and management, legal and ethical responsibilities, job descriptions, paraeducator training, and supervisory training.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ547459

Guide For Effective Paraeducator Practices In Iowa

Iowa Department of Education, Division of Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, 54 pp. plus handouts, January 1998
State of Iowa, Department of Education, Grimes State Office Bldg., Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0146

This guide describes the services that are necessary to support effective paraeducator services in accredited Iowa schools. It is intended to assist schools in improving services to children as well as complying with rules and regulations. The guidelines offered are intended as a prototype for local adoption and a framework for dialogue among teachers, paraeducators, and others. They may be modified with local input.

Guildelines For Language, Academic, And Special Education Services Required For Limited-English-Proficient Students In California Public Schools, K-12

Special Education Division, California Department of Education, Sacramento, 26 pp., 1997
Department, PO Box 944272, Sacramento, CA 94244-2720

Describes what bilingual education and special education services are required in California for limited-English-proficient students K-12. Does not address all the services required for these students, but does specify how those students identified as requiring special education services are ensured access to the core curriculum. Summarizes applicable requirements and procedures that California educational agencies must undertake to comply with federal and state statutes and regulations as well as applicable court cases.

Helping Or Hovering? Effects Of Instructional Assistant Proximity On Students With Disabilities

Giangreco, Michael F.; Edelman, Susan W.; Luiselli, Tracy Evans; MacFarland, Stephanie Z.C.
Exceptional Children; v64 n1 p7-18 Fall 1997

Observations and interviews in 16 classrooms concerning proximity of instructional assistants to students with disabilities found: (1) interference with general educator responsibility; (2) separation from classmates; (3) dependence on adults; (4) impact on peer interactions; (5) limitations on receiving competent instruction; (6) loss of personal control; (7) loss of gender identity; and (8) interference with instruction of other students.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ552179

Home Visitor

Child Development Associate Assessment and Competency Standards
CDA National Credentialing Program, 46 pp., 1992
Council for Early Childhood Professional Recognition, 1341 G Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20005-3105

Part I: An overview of the CDA National Credentialing Program and the Competency standards and assessment system for home visitors. Part II: The eligibility requirements and information collection responsibilities of the four members of the local team that conducts the evaluation of a Candidate for the CDA Credential. Part III: The complete CDA Competency Standards for Home Visitors. Appendices include a history of the CDA program and a glossary of terms.

Issues In The Development Of Guidelines For The Preparation And Use Of Speech-Language Paraprofessionals And Their Sl Supervisors Working In Education Settings

Radaszewski Byrne, Mary
Journal of Children's Communication Development; v18 n1 p5-21 Spr-Sum 1997

Abstract:Ê Reviews the preparation, use, supervision, and qualifications of speech-language (SL) paraprofessionals and their SL supervisors working in educational settings. Identifies ongoing issues that have been barriers to the development of national and state guidelines for SL paraprofessional use and supervision and discusses current issues promoting the development of such guidelines. Offers recommendations.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ550628

The Key To Lowering Staff Turnover Is In The Hiring

Fowler, Dora
Early Childhood News; v8 n1 p34-35 Jan-Feb 1996

Discusses the benefits of using a pre-employment test to help screen job candidates for those qualities that lead to cost-effective long-term employment. Gives an example of how to determine the cost of staff turnover at any child-care facility.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ520378

Learning Disabilities: Use Of Paraprofessionals

National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities
Asha. v. 41 no. 2 (Mar./Apr. 1999 supplement no.19) pp. 37-46

A document on the use of paraprofessionals in the treatment of learning disabilities from the U.S. National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities is presented. Aspects discussed in the document are the foundation for successful paraprofessional services, key word definitions, ethical responsibilities, education requirements for paraprofessionals, roles and responsibilities of paraprofessionals in a learning disabilities program, activities outside the scope of responsibilities for paraprofessionals, responsibilities of the qualified teacher/service provider with regard to the use of paraprofessionals, and guidelines for the supervision of paraprofessionals.

Necessity: The Mother Of Invention. A Parent's Recommendation For The Preparation And Use Of Speech-Language Paraprofessionals In Education Settings

Haas, Eileen M.
Journal of Children's Communication Development; v18 n1 p111-13 Spr-Sum 1997

The mother of a 12-year-old medically fragile profoundly deaf child, urges the utilization of speech-language paraprofessionals in the schools in light of her successful experiences with paraprofessionals and the shortage of speech-language therapists competent in sign language. Training suggestions are also provided.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ550636

Parameters Of Paraprofessionalism: Exploring The Myths And Realities Associated With Paraprofessionals In Rehabilitation Settings [And] Comments On Benshoff, Et Al.

Benshoff, John J.; and others
Journal of Rehabilitation Administration; v19 n2 p133-43, 145-46 May 1995
Available from Journal of Rehabilitation Administration, PO Box 19891, San Diego, CA 92159

Benshoff and others explore misconceptions about the inservice training needs, continuing education, supervision, and evaluation of rehabilitation paraprofessionals. A response by Emener draws distinctions between professionals and paraprofessionals.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ521078

Preparing Teachers To Work With Paraeducators

Salzberg, Charles L.; Morgan, Jill
Teacher Education and Special Education; v18 n1 p49-55 Win 1995
Available from UMI

This article reviews the literature on preparing teachers to work with and supervise paraeducators in classrooms serving students at risk or with disabilities. Although considerable agreement was found on the content of such preparation, the review found that the number of researchers and developers in this area is currently small.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ516090

Profiles In Collaboration

Chapter 4: Kansas Project Partnership: A State Systems Change Approach to Improving Teacher Development

Shortages In Professions Working With Young Children With Disabilities And Their Families

Hebbeler, Kathleen
North Carolina University, Chapel Hill, Frank Porter Graham Center, 1994, 43 p.; A product of the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance System.
NEC*TAS Coordinating Office Publications, 550 NationsBank Plaza, 137 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27514 ($5, quantity discounts available).

This paper synthesizes information about shortages among the professions working with young children with disabilities, birth through age 5, and their families. The paper begins with a look at national data on personnel working in early intervention and preschool special education. Distinctions between the work force in early intervention (Part H of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and preschool special education (Part B of the IDEA) are clarified. The paper reports that teachers and paraprofessionals make up the largest portion of the more than 30,000 individuals working in early intervention; teachers and speech-language pathologists working with preschoolers total more than 17,000 (with no data on related services personnel). The paper examines shortages in key professions and what the future is likely to hold for them, focusing on physical and occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, nurses, and teachers. Other issues related to personnel planning are discussed, including personnel quality, the impact of contracted services, and program adaptation to personnel shortages. The paper then explores various approaches and some of the challenges to quantifying shortages. The paper closes with a discussion of possible responses to the problem, such as decreasing attrition, staffing differently, and revising professional standards to increase supply. (Contains 36 references.)

ERIC Accession Number: ED376637

Speech-Language Paraprofessionals Working In Kentucky Schools

Blodgett, Elizabeth G.; Miller, Jean M.
Journal of Children's Communication Development; v18 n1 p65-79 Spr-Sum 1997

Describes factors leading to the recent statewide introduction of speech-language paraprofessionals called speech-language pathology assistants (SLPA) in Kentucky's public schools. Also describes the licensure model, requirements for SLPA licensure, and the scope of practice associated with the position. Reports results of a survey indicating positive effects of SLPAs on service delivery.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ550632


Are Community College Training Programs For Paraeducators Feasible?

French, Nancy K.; Cabell, Elizabeth A.
Community College Journal of Research and Practice; v17 n2 p131-40 Mar-Apr 1993

Examines the feasibility of developing training programs in the Colorado community college system for paraeducators (i.e., technicians who provide personal care, instructional services and behavior management to students with disabilities and remedial needs) based on a survey of directors of special education, teachers, and personnel directors. Suggests characteristics of such programs.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ461675

Beyond The Expert Helping Model: Empowering Paraprofessionals And Families At Risk

Journal of Extension; v31 p14-16 Fall 1993

Outlines two models for working with families living in at-risk environments: the empowerment model and the expert model, with particular emphasis on the role of paraprofessionals.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ472112

Changes In Concern And Working Knowledge Levels Following Attendance At A Vocational Special Needs Paraprofessional Training Workshop

Jones, Karen H.; Nagel, K.L.
Journal of Vocational and Technical Education; v9 n2 p17-23 Spr 1993

Thirty-two vocational special needs paraprofessionals who attended a training certification workshop significantly increased their knowledge of and concern for special needs students. A comprehensive training model encompassing 12 special needs categories was developed.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ470062

Child Academic Engagement Related To Proximity Of Paraprofessionals

Werts, Margaret Gessler; Adviser: Zigmond, Naomi
University of Pittsburgh, AAT 9906254, DAI-A 59/09, p. 3407, Mar 1999, 127 pp.

Paraprofessionals are persons who work in classrooms under the supervision of teachers or other certified personnel. The duties and responsibilities of a paraprofessional have changed over the past few decades and they may vary from situation to situation. In some cases, reported activities include being a member of a collaborative team, guiding students in drill and practice exercises, or teaching instructional groups. Some teachers use paraprofessionals only for transition from one area of the building to another, while others appeared to use the extra assistance for teaching small groups and monitoring academic tasks. Recent authorizations of legislation that call for the appropriate education of children with disabilities have increased the use of non-professional personnel due to shortages in the supply of certified and qualified personnel to deliver services, as well as the cost of staffing schools with adequate numbers of teachers. The continued increase in the number of students with disabilities who are educated in inclusive settings may escalate the practice even more.

The increase in use of paraprofessionals has not been accompanied by systematic examination to determine if use of non-certified personnel leads to appropriate child outcomes, such as an increase in a child's academic engagement. This study examined the effect of paraprofessional proximity at two positions (less than 2 feet from the child and more than 5 feet from the child). A single subject alternating treatments design (n = 4) was used to investigate the effects of proximity on academic engagement (passive, active, and non-engaged) and the nature and frequency of interactions between children with disabilities and the paraprofessionals in the two proximity conditions.Ê Results indicated that: (1) occurrence of non-engaged behaviors is higher when paraprofessionals are positioned more than 5 feet from the children; (2) occurrence of engaged behavior is higher when the paraprofessional is within 2 feet of the child; and (3) for some, but not all children, active engagement is related to with verbal interactions with the paraprofessional.

A Consultation And Paraprofessional Pull-In System Of Service Delivery: A Report On Student Outcomes And Teacher Satisfaction

Welch, Marshall; Richards, Gayle; Okada, Teresa
Remedial and Special Education, v. 16 (Jan. 1995) p. 16-28

This article presents the results of an evaluation study conducted to assess the impact of a hybrid approach to educational partnership known as the Consultation and Paraprofessional Pull-in System (CAPPS) for serving at-risk students and those with mild academic disabilities. CAPPS is the synthesis of three predominant methods of shared responsibility in service delivery: (1) resource/consulting teacher (R/CT), (2) pull-in programming, and (3) utilization of paraprofessionals for service delivery. This article begins by providing a description of the CAPPS model and its implementation at an elementary school in a suburban area of the Rocky Mountain region using cross-grade grouping and outcome-based education as a basis for instructional programming and evaluation. Results from a quantitative and qualitative evaluation project designed to assess teacher attitudes, student outcomes, and number of referrals for special education services are presented. The article concludes with a discussion of the results followed by recommendations for implementation and further research.

Current Trends In The Use Of Paraprofessionals In Early Intervention And Preschool Services

NEC*TAS Synthesis Report
Striffler, Nancy
Frank Porter Graham Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1993, 30 pp.
A product of the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance System

This paper synthesizes current thinking, issues, and practices related to the use of paraprofessionals in the provision of early intervention and preschool services to children with disabilities, birth through 5 years of age, and their families. Information was gathered from 31 state and jurisdiction coordinators of preschool services under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and coordinators of IDEA Part H. Findings revealed that 18 states had a policy for assuring quality personnel for either early intervention or preschool services that includes the use of paraprofessionals; that 5 more states indicated that a policy was in the planning stage; and that 8 states indicated that no policy exists. Ten states reported that they had established a new occupational category; of these, eight were at the paraprofessional level. Fourteen states had developed or were developing personnel standards for paraprofessionals, and 10 states had developed or were developing a credentialing process. Case examples of two states are presented: Illinois, where the Department of Education is the lead agency for both Part B and Part H programs; and Utah, where the State Board of Education is the lead agency for Part B and the Department of Health is the lead agency for Part H programs. Names and addresses of state resources for information on paraprofessional personnel policies and practices are listed. Appendixes contain a copy of the data collection instrument and a chart reporting each state's response.

ERIC Accession Number: ED358655

Effect Of A Staff Training Package On Increasing Community Integration For People With Severe Disabilities

Smalley, Kimberly A.; and others

Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities; v32 n1 p42-48 Mar 1997

Evaluation of the effectiveness of a training program for behavioral aides providing individualized support for adults with severe disabilities and challenging behaviors in a day treatment center found all five participants were able to show marked increases in their clients' social and physical community integration. The training program focused on challenging behaviors, valued activities, and physical and social integration.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ542767

The Effectiveness Of An Intervener Model Of Services For Young Deaf-Blind Children

Watkins, Susan, and others
American Annals of the Deaf; v139 n4 p404-09 Oct 1994

This study attempted to validate the effectiveness of the Intervener Service Model, which provides the services of a paraprofessional (called an intervener) to families of young children who are deaf-blind. The intervener provides auditory, visual, and tactile stimulation and helps the child develop interaction behaviors. Quantitative and qualitative data support the effectiveness of the model.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ493082

Employment Of Educators In Preschool Mainstreaming: A Survey Of General Early Educators

Wolery, Mark; and others

Journal of Early Intervention; v18 n1 p64-77 Win 1994

A national survey of 483 preschool personnel revealed that paraprofessionals were hired in high proportions across all program types and more frequently in mainstreamed than non-mainstreamed programs. The lowest levels of paraprofessional employment occurred for public school kindergartens. Nearly three-fourths of the mainstreamed programs did not report hiring a special education teacher.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ487939

Esl In Special Education

Nancy Cloud, ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics, Washington, DC
Internet ED303044, Dec. 88 ESL in Special Education, ERIC Digest

Article shows that LEP students require tailored educational services and exceptional LEP students require highly specialized programs. Focus is on strategies that will prevent inappropriate referral of the LEP student into special education. Author sees need to have special educators and ESL educators cross-trained in order to deliver integrated services that will account for childrenâs second language and disability characteristics. She presents a strong desire to have ESL materials developed for both mildly and moderately/severely disabled students. This article is written for the administrator or program specialist who is interested in cross-training professionals and paraprofessionals in ESL and Special Education. Included is a wealth of documented reference for those who may desire to research programs for the LEP special education student.

An Examination Of Paraprofessional Involvement In Supporting Inclusion Of Students With Autism

Young, Brooke; and others
Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities; v12 n1 p31-38,48 Spr 1997

A study monitored the behaviors of three students (ages 7-9) with autism in inclusionary settings relative to paraprofessional proximity and classroom activity. Results are presented for on-task behavior, in-seat behavior, self-stimulatory responses, and inappropriate vocalizations. Data are also presented for interactions initiated by paraprofessionals, teachers, and students. Implications for paraprofessional training are discussed.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ544392

Expanding Paraprofessional Staff To Help Children Succeed In School Neighborhood Employment Initiative

Seeley, David S.
Institute for Responsive Education, Boston, Mass., 1993, 45 pp.
Institute for Responsive Education, 605 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215 ($8)

A preliminary study reports on the possibilities for increasing the employment of people from New York City's poor neighborhoods to help children succeed in school through such non-classroom activities as home visitation, parent education, facilitation, and coordination of parent-involvement activities, and assistance in the provision of health, counseling, and family services. It is based on a review of present paraprofessional staffing in New York City and discussions with people inside and outside the school system. Preliminary results indicate that hiring neighborhood people to help schools is a sound concept. At present, there are many paraprofessionals in New York, but only a small number of paraprofessionals are employed in reaching out to families. There is a pressing need for the kinds of services such a staff could provide. Some existing funds could be reprogrammed for these purposes, and some new sources are possible. The selection and training of paraprofessionals is extremely important, as are leadership and administration, career ladders, and continuing evaluation and research of their use. Appendix A provides background information, and Appendix B is a suggested funding proposal.

ERIC Accession Number: ED376237

The Impact Of Inclusion Of Students With Challenging Needs

Bang, Myong Ye; Lamb, Peg
Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps (TASH) (New Orleans, LA, November 1996), 17 pp.

This study examined the impact of 3 years of full inclusion of students with severe disabilities in a Lansing (Michigan) high school. Teacher and parent surveys as well as observations of student interactions and classrooms were used to evaluate inclusion of seven students with low-incidence disabilities (autistic impairment, trainable mental impairment, severe mental impairment, and severe multiple impairments). In general, parents reported positive changes in family life with increased interactions with family friends and neighbors, decreased behavioral problems, but increased parenting stress. Both special and general education teachers reported that information sharing, development of instructional materials, and support from consultants and paraprofessions were effective. Similarly, both groups of educators reported that in-service programs, staff development activities, and technical assistance from the district were ineffective. Parents and teachers agreed that students' in-school opportunities for interaction with nondisabled students were enhanced in the inclusive setting. Observation of classrooms found interactions between included students and nondisabled peers to be overwhelmingly accepting. Classroom observations also indicated that paraprofessionals assisted the included students in understanding directions but tended to dominate the student's interactions. Implications for improved staff development in the future are discussed. (Contains 13 references.)

ERIC Accession Number: ED408745

Improving The Classroom Behaviour Of A Student With Severe Disabilities Via Paraprofessional Training

Martella, Ronald C.; and others B.C. Journal of Special Education; v17 n1 p33-44 1993

Systematic training of a paraprofessional in effective instructional procedures with a student with severe mental retardation and aberrant behaviors resulted in improved skills and fewer negative statements by the paraprofessional and decreased aberrant behaviors and increased compliance by the student. Follow-up at 55 weeks indicated maintenance of improved skills and student behaviors.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ472638

In First Person Plural: Growing Up With A Disadvantaged Community

Salach, Simcha
Bernard Van Leer Foundation, The Hague (Netherlands), 1993, 116 pp.
Bernard van Leer Foundation, P.O. Box 82334, 2508 EH The Hague, Netherlands.

From the perspective of the project leader, this book traces the growth and development of the Early Childhood and Family Education Project in Morasha, Israel, during the 8 years of its existence (1982-1990). Chapter 1 describes Morasha, a poor, immigrant neighborhood in Ramat HaSharon, and the author's childhood there. Chapter 2 describes the efforts of the Morasha Council to include the community in the state of Israel's Project Renewal. Chapter 3 reviews Project Renewal activities and efforts to obtain funding from the Bernard van Leer Foundation to begin the Early Childhood and Family Education Project, which sought to develop programs to train paraprofessional women from the community, implementing a home visiting program for mothers and preschoolers, and develop a program of family day care centers for toddlers and preschool children. Chapter 4 describes the work involved in building the project's infrastructure. In chapter 5, basic project approaches, principles, and objectives are described, while in chapter 6, the work involved in translating these theories into community work is detailed. Chapters 7 and 8 focus on the project's professional staff, paraprofessional counselors, and paraprofessional care-givers. In chapter 9, efforts to disseminate the project to additional communities in the region are related. Chapter 10 describes the project's structural and organizational characteristics and relationships with other agencies. Chapter 11 explains the project's evaluation component, and chapter 12 provides a summary of the project as a personal and collective journey. Additional information about the project is appended.

ERIC Accession Number: ED369492

Increasing Day Care Staff Members' Interactions During Care-Giving Routines

Venn, Martha L.; Wolery, Mark
Journal of Early Intervention; v16 n4 p304-19 Fall 1992

Four paraprofessional staff members in a mainstreamed day care program were trained to engage in positive interactive behaviors during diaper changing. Results indicated that staff increased frequency of game playing and other interactive behaviors during diapering, but increases were not generalized to feeding routines.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ459625

Investigating The Effects Of A Paraprofessional Teaching Sharing Behaviors To Young Children With Special Needs In An Inclusive Kindergarten Classroom

Perez, Janelle Cordes; Adviser: Murdock, Jane
University of New Orleans, AAT 9900965, DAI-A 59/08, P. 2928, Feb 1999, 223 pp.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the following research questions: First, will the paraprofessional's modeling, prompting, and reinforcement strategy increase specific sharing behaviors of young children with disabilities/special needs? Second, will the sharing behaviors maintain over time? A single-subject design and a multiple baseline procedure across subjects were used to answer these questions.

The target behavior, sharing, is an important developmental task for young children with special needs. Therefore, the sharing behaviors of two females and three males who were developmentally delayed and between 61 months and 66 months of age were investigated in an inclusive kindergarten setting in a public elementary school.

Overall results revealed that the paraprofessional's intervention was effective in increasing all five of the participants' sharing behaviors. Furthermore, four of the participants' sharing behaviors maintained over 7-9 days and four of the participants' sharing behavior persisted over 113-115 days after the intervention ceased. Thus, the non-intrusive and efficient intervention could be implemented by other paraprofessionals in inclusive kindergarten settings to teach young children with special needs to share.

Meeting The Challenge Of Paraprofessional Training: An Application Of The Competence Model

Sullivan, Kathleen O'Connell; Adviser: Swift, Marshall
Widener University, Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology, AAT 9824803, DAI-B 59/02, p. 889, Aug 1998, 159 pp.

The purpose of this dissertation was to design a process to develop and increase the psychological skills of children with emotional and behavioral disorders while guiding the special education paraprofessionals to foster psychosocial skills and to actively participate in the development of a competence-based therapeutic milieu. In an effort to achieve this goal, a survey was conducted with paraprofessionals to assess the current state of training in a moderate-sized mental health clinic. In addition, the survey tapped the paraprofessionals' perceptions of the typical skills displayed by the students in their service. Based upon the results of this survey and a review of the relevant literature, a three-phase paraprofessional training process was developed. Phase I focuses on the selection of paraprofessional personnel. Phase II focuses on paraprofessional training. Phase III focuses on an on-going consultation process between the psychologist and the paraprofessional.

Meeting The Demands For Quality Teachers: A Case Study Of A Bilingual Paraprofessional-To-Bilingual-Teacher Training Program

Torres, Roberto L.; Adviser: Meloth, Michael
University of Colorado at Boulder, AAT 9838414, DAI-A 59/06, p. 1983, Dec. 1998, 287 pp.

The training of paraprofessionals to become teachers has been a practice used to meet the high demand of educators. This practice represents a challenge because paraprofessionals require a training that will improve their knowledge and skills in areas like bilingual education. The Paraprofessional Teacher Training Program (PTTP) was designed as an innovative approach that trained paraprofessionals who were aspiring to careers in education.

This dissertation studies and discusses the impact of the PTTP on four of its graduates in light of key program components and experiences that related to their formation. It is a case study that included in-depth teacher interviews and classroom observations. The relevance of this study resided in understanding the training program elements that impacted new teachers and why they feel empowered to teach after participating in the

PTTP. The study asked the following: (1) What types of professional benefits do the teachers attribute to their participation in the PTTP? (2) What kinds of instruction do the teachers provide for their students and do the instruction and curriculum reflect the goals of the PTTP? (3) In what other ways are the goals of the PTTP reflected in what teachers' do in their classrooms after receiving formal training?

The results indicated that the post-training experiences of the participants notably contrasted with their experiences as paraeducators. Specifically, the data indicated that the program fulfilled the participants' desire for a personal education, and their knowledge of educational matters. The data also indicated that the program: (a) helped the participants develop some teaching competencies necessary to work with LEP students, (b) did not have any effect on some of the desired competencies, and (c) resulted in the development of competencies not included as part of the goals of the training. Finally, as a result of a cultural and linguistic immersion experiences in Mexico, the participants also acquired some background knowledge of the LEP students school culture and language that they claim helps them better understand and educate their LEP students.

Paraprofessionals In Inclusive Classrooms: Working Without A Net

Milner, Carole Anne; Adviser: Olson, Myrna
The University of North Dakota, AAT 9833557, DAI-A 59/05, P. 1527, Nov 1998, 236 pp.

This qualitative study was designed to answer the question: ãWhat happens when a paraprofessional is assigned to provide individual, direct service to a student with disabilities in an inclusive classroom?ä Selection of the primary participants, paraprofessionals, was completed by securing the cooperation of three paraprofessionals identified as successful by the school principals and the special education teachers supervising the paraprofessionals. Three paraprofessionals were observed in inclusive classrooms one morning and one afternoon per week throughout the fall semester of 1997. Interviews were conducted with the 3 paraprofessionals, 3 special education teachers, 11 general education teachers of inclusive classes, 3 middle school students with disabilities, and 6 high school students with disabilities. The data obtained from the observations, interview transcripts, and diagrams drawn by interviewees were initially analyzed using $/rm NUD[/cdot]IST,$ a qualitative analysis software package, to generate the themes. Analysis was completed with the use of word processing software as a slightly more automated version of the typical index card sorting and categorizing process used by qualitative researchers.

The two major themes arising from the study are deficits in communication and deficits in preparation/training for inclusion. These deficits were most prevalent in the interactions, and lack of interactions, between paraprofessionals and general education teachers, and between special education teachers and general education teachers. The areas of communication deficit concern (1) paraprofessionals' roles, responsibilities, and preparation, (2) general education teachers' responsibility for paraprofessionals, and (3) interpretation of goals of inclusion. The deficits in preparation/training were noted in (1) appropriate use of paraprofessionals to foster social inclusion of students with disabilities, (2) opportunities for on-the-job-training and modeling for paraprofessionals, (3) inservice about inclusion for general education teachers, and (4) supervisory training for special and general education teachers.

Paraprofessionals In Italy: Perspectives From An Inclusive Counrty

Palladino, Paola; Scruggs, Thomas E.
The Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, v24, n4, 254-258, 1999.

Since 1977, Italy has largely eliminated special schools and special classes in favor of neighborhood school placements where students with disabilities are served primarily in general education classes. Overall class sizes are very small and caseloads of special education teachers are very favorable (about two students with disabilities for each special education teacher).Ê Because of these factors, it was thought that attitudes towards the role of paraprofessionals in Italian schools would differ from those toward paraprofessionals in the United States, where many paraprofessionals take on a more independent role in inclusive classrooms.Ê In this discussion article, we suggest that the role of paraprofessionals might be viewed differently in Italy than in the United States, and that these differences may reflect differing levels of available support for inclusive classrooms.

Parent Perspectives On The Roles Of Paraprofessionals

ÊFrench, Nancy K., Chopra, Ritu V.
The Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, v24, n4, 259-272, 1999.

This article examines parent perceptions of paraprofessional roles and employment conditions.Ê Nineteen mothers of 23 children who received special education services in general education classrooms with support from paraprofessionals participated in focus group interviews.Ê This exploratory study revealed that these mothers identified closely with paraprofessionals and believed that hey were compassionate, dedicated people, who functioned in four major roles: connector, team member, instructor, physical caregiver/health needs provider. ÊParticipants also identified problems associated with paraprofessional employment including the lack of training, low pay, and lack of respect for the position, resulting in high levels of turnover. ÊRespect for paraprofessionals was of particular concern to the mothers, who believed that the respect accorded to paraprofessionals reflected the respect accorded to their children.

Paraprofessionals In Job Coach Roles

Rogan, Patricia M., Held, Mary
The Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, v24, n4, 273-280 1999.

The purpose of this article is to examine issues related to paraprofessionals in job coach roles for students with disabilities. Postschool outcomes of students with disabilities are partially dependent on the nature and quality of supports they receive during this critical time of transition in their lives. Although schools are increasingly relying on paraprofessionals to support students in school and community settings, including workplaces, there is growing concern about their lack of preparation and support. This article describes issues related to recruitment, retention, orientation, and training of paraprofessionals in job coach roles. In addition, roles and responsibilities, supervision, support, evaluation, and compensation issuers are discussed in relation to school job coaches.Ê Recommendations for improving practice are offered, which require an investment on the part of schools to ensure the provision of quality services and supports.

The Perceptions Of The Administrators, Faculty, And Teacher Aides/Tutors Regarding Staff Development At Mountain View Elementary School (Hawaii)

Watanabe, Myrna Gail
California State University, Long Beach, AAT 1391698, MAI 37/01, p. 33, Feb 1999, 57 pp.

The purpose of this study was to determine the degree to which a staff development program met the needs of administrators, faculty, and paraprofessional tutors and supported them in their efforts to implement necessary changes. Throughout the literature, it has been reported that staff development can be an effective tool for educational improvement, having more positive results if it is school based and schoolwide and teachers are involved in the planning, selecting, implementation, and decision making. Teachers need to sense ownership in the plan and have substantial amounts of technical assistance, peer coaching, and appropriate topics for those involved.

As staff development was implemented at the school, all participants were provided opportunity to give feedback on the process. The results of this study indicated that with proper implementation of staff development, the needs of faculty and staff were met. They were supported in their efforts to successfully implement necessary changes.

Preparation Of Students For Testing: Teacher Differentiation Of Appropriate And Inappropriate Practices

Moore, William P.
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Council on Measurement in Education (Atlanta, GA, April 13-15, 1993), 20 pp.

This paper studied whether or not elementary school classroom teachers in a large urban Midwestern school district were able to distinguish appropriate from inappropriate testing practices in a large-scale mandated program. Fifty of 62 teachers and paraprofessionals in 2 elementary schools completed the Teacher Assessment Preparation Practices Questionnaire (TAPQ), which explored 40 specific testing behaviors of teachers from pre-testing to post-testing. Respondents rated each teacher behavior regarding testing for acceptability. Participants distinguished appropriate testing behaviors, but did not demonstrate the expected capability when rating the behaviors. Less than half of the inappropriate behaviors were correctly identified. Those that were characterized as inappropriate had the largest standard errors and variability indices, indicative of disagreement among participants about the appropriateness of these practices. Teachers and paraprofessionals responded in similar ways, demonstrating similar levels of understanding of testing practice. Findings support other research results that have suggested that classroom educators are not prepared to implement appropriate and acceptable test preparation and test administration practices. Recommendations for improvement are included. One figure illustrates the discussion, and four tables summarize responses to the questionnaire items.

ERIC Accession Number: ED357033

Promoting Independence In Integrated Classrooms By Teaching Aides To Use Activity Schedules And Decreased Prompts

Hall, Laura J.; and others
Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities; v30 n3 p208-17 Sep 1995
Available fromÊ UMI

This study aimed to increase the independent engagement of integrated elementary students with disabilities, by decreasing prompts from aides and using pictorial activity schedules to diminish dependence on adult support. A nonconcurrent multiple-baseline design, replicated across three aide-child pairs, revealed that the intervention resulted in prompt reduction by the integration aides.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ510031

Recruiting And Preparing African-Americans For Teaching Through Alternative Certification

Persley, Mary L.; Adviser: Shaughnessy, Mary Angela
Spalding University, AAT 9835689, DAI-A 59/05, p. 1533, Nov 1998, 89 pp.

This study recognizes and emphasizes the need for more African-American teachers to serve the increasing diverse student population. The research focuses on alternative teacher certification as an effective model for the recruitment and preparation of nontraditional African-Americans for a teaching career. This research study was conducted by analyzing the experiences and perspectives of a cohort of 32 alternative teacher certification program participants. The participants were recruited from the African-American, paraprofessional employee ranks of Jefferson County Public Schools. The data for the subjects are classified on contingency tables according to the perceived benefit level of the alternative teacher certification program vs. the relationship to age, gender, and the number of years out of school prior to entering the program. Using inferential testing, parametric chi-square hypothesis tests for independence was performed at the.05 level of significance on each of the contingency tables. The overall findings are that there is no difference in perception of program benefit level with regard to age and gender. However, there is a significant relationship to the number of years out of school versus the perceived level of program benefit. This study also discloses the features that make for an effective alternative teacher certification program from the subjects' perspectives.

Report Of Organization Of The Field Work Group A

McEwen, B.; and others,
Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness; v86 n7 suppl p344-45 Sep 1992
NOTE:Ê Theme Issue: The State of the Blindness System Today. 1987-1990 Helen Keller Seminars.

This summary of a seminar meeting on reorganization of the field of rehabilitation for persons with blindness or visual impairment addresses the need for a national coalition, formation of a national agency for blind persons, consolidation of services, the use of paraprofessionals, the need for separate state plans, agency accreditation, and training of professionals.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ455801

The Tip Of The Iceberg: Determining Whether Paraprofessional Support Is Needed For Students With Disabilities In General Education Settings

Giangrecco, Michael F., Broer, Stephen M., Edelman, Susan W.

The Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, v24, n4, 281-291, 1999.

Parprofessionals represent an important and growing segment of the personnel support used in American schools to provide inclusive educational opportunities to students with disabilities.Ê When and how to utilize paraprofessionals effectively, persists as an ongoing challenge in the schools.Ê After presenting selected issues associated with employing paraprofessionals, this article extends the discussion on paraprofessional issues by exploring guidelines to assist teams in making decisions about paraprofessional supports. This includes both considerations for the appropriate use of paraprofessionals when assigned, as well as alternative support solutions. Our discussion is intended to advance dialogue on this important topic and to support the appropriate involvement of paraprofessionals in the education of students with disabilities as valued participants on collaborative teams whose roles are clearly defined and supported.

Use Of Focus-Group Needs Assessment For Planning Paraprofessional Staff Development In Iowa's Education Settings

Hansen, Deb
Journal of Children's Communication Development; v18 n1 p81-89 Spr-Sum 1997

Describes how focus groups comprised of speech-language professionals, paraprofessionals, general and special education teachers, and parents in Iowa were used to conduct a needs assessment of issues in staff development and use of paraprofessional personnel and to design job-relevant personnel development programs. An attached chart lists themes emerging from the groups.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ550633

Using Interpreter-Tutors In School Programs For Students Who Are Deaf-Blind

Ford, J.; Fredericks,B.
Journal-of-Visual-Impairment-&-Blindness; v89 n3 p229-34 May-Jun 1995
Available from UMI

This article presents a model for utilizing a new paraprofessional, the interpreter-tutor, to help provide necessary educational support in public schools to children who are deaf-blind. It discusses the role of the interpreter-tutor, outlines required knowledge and skills, and gives a case study example.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ506625

Utilization Of Paraprofessionals In Special Education: A Review Of The Literature

Jones, Karen H.; Bender, William N.
Remedial and Special Education (RASE); v14 n1 p7-14 Jan-Feb 1993

This article reviews research examining expanding roles of paraprofessionals in special education; their efficacy, based on student outcomes and educators' perceptions; empirical bases for training; and training models. Conclusions are drawn concerning the expanded role of paraprofessionals, lack of efficacy data, and lack of systematic training.

ERIC Accession Number: EJ459464

The Employment and Preparation of Paraeducators, The State of the Art- 2003

By: Anna Lou Pickett, Marilyn Likins, and Teri Wallace

"This is the 7th in a series of State of the Art Reports published by the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals in Education and Related Services (NRCP). Over the last three decades the series has provided snapshots of how federal, state and local education agencies have addressed issues that influence the roles, preparation and supervision of paraeducators." (from the Introduction)

Download the entire State of the Art Document

By: Anna Lou Pickett, Marilyn Likins, and Teri Wallace

"This is the 7th in a series of State of the Art Reports published by the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals in Education and Related Services (NRCP). Over the last three decades the series has provided snapshots of how federal, state and local education agencies have addressed issues that influence the roles, preparation and supervision of paraeducators." (from the Introduction)

Download the entire State of the Art Document


The purpose of this report is to provide policymakers and administrators in SEAs, LEAs, IHEs and other stakeholders with information they can build on as they work together to address issues and practices that currently impact on the employment, roles, training/education, and supervision of paraeducators: The newest but least understood members of education and related services teams.

The report is divided into four parts. Part I provides an historical overview of the factors that initially led to the employment of paraeducators. It continues with a look at education reform initiatives that have contributed to the need to prepare teachers to supervise and work effectively with paraeducators. Part II describes contemporary concerns and events that have brought about increased reliance on paraeducators with greater emphasis on their learner support roles. Part III centers on federal legislative actions, policy questions, and systemic issues requiring cooperation among agencies in different jurisdictions with different responsibilities for ensuring the availability of an effectively supervised, well-prepared paraeducator workforce. Part IV discusses strategies policy makers and administrators in SEAs, LEAs, other education provider agencies, and IHEs can build on to overcome barriers to improving the performance and productivity of teacher and paraeducator teams. It concludes with a series of appendices.

Paraeducator State of the Art: Historical Perspective (1950's-1980's)

To assist those of you concerned with creating and maintaining policies and systems to more effectively tap the resources of paraeducators, the report starts with an overview of events and trends, including education reform efforts that have caused administrators to employ in growing numbers, paraeducators (teacher aides, paraprofessionals), to support the program and administrative functions of teachers.

In the mid-1950s, a need to alleviate post WW II shortages of licensed teachers and the fledgling efforts of parents to develop community based services for children and adults with disabilities stimulated interest in the employment of teacher aides. During this period, two research projects were undertaken to assess the appropriateness of employing teacher aides as one way to provide teachers with more time to plan and carry out instructional activities. The first, sponsored by the Ford Foundation, took place in the Bay City, Michigan schools. College educated women who were not licensed teachers were recruited and trained to perform clerical, monitoring, and other routine classroom tasks (Fund for the Advancement of Education, 1961). At about the same time, Cruickshank and Haring (1957) documented a project conducted at Syracuse University designed to evaluate the efficacy of utilizing teacher aides/assistants in the special education programs that were beginning to emerge across the country. Although the results of both projects showed promise, it was not until the late 1960s and early 1970s that the potential benefits of employing teacher aides to work along side teachers in both general and special education would be more fully tested (Gartner, 1971; Kaplan, 1977).

In the 1960s and 1970s demands from many constituencies for change in economic, social, health care, education and other human services systems led to federal legislation that established and supported instructional and other direct services for learners who came from educationally and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Many of the programs created by Congress to provide these services, including, Title I and Head Start, provided funding for schools and other community organizations to employ and train paraprofessionals. In the mid 1970s parents and other advocates for the rights of children and youth with disabilities achieved one of their major goals with the passage of PL 94-142, the landmark Education for all Handicapped Children Act, now titled the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

At the heart of each of these laws was a recognition of the importance of learner centered instructional services to meet the needs of children and youth with diverse abilities, learning preferences, and other education needs -- although only PL 94-142 specifically mandated individualized education plans. As a result of the need to provide teachers in pre-school, general, compensatory and special education with the support they required to provide individualized/ personalized education services for all learners who could benefit from them, the employment of paraprofessionals began to gain momentum and significant changes began to occur in their roles and responsibilities. While they still performed routine monitoring, clerical, and housekeeping tasks, paraprofessionals increasingly reviewed and reinforced lessons and assisted students with other learning activities initiated by teachers (Bowman & Klopf, 1967; Jackson &Acosta, 1971; Pickett, 1989). Paraprofessionals who shared the cultures, traditions, and language backgrounds of learners and their families served as liaisons between schools and homes as one way of reducing an emerging lack of confidence between the two (Gartner & Riessman, 1974).

At the same time that paraprofessional employment was expanding, there was also a growing recognition of the need to reduce obstacles that prevented people from multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-lingual heritages from entering the professional ranks. Then, as now, paraprofessionals were primarily women who were (re) entering the workforce, who lived near the schools where they worked, and who represented the cultural and ethnic populations in their community (Kaplan, 1977; Haselkorn & Fideler, 1996). Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the federal government played a key role in supporting and providing access to teacher education for paraprofessionals and other non-traditional students. In his comprehensive report From Aide to Teacher: The Story of the Career Opportunities Program (COP) George Kaplan (1977) described the results of a seven-year project supported by the U.S. Office of Education. The most significant goal of COP was to a) develop flexible degree programs that would not diminish the quality of teacher preparation programs, and b) would attract and support "teacher aides" in low income urban and rural areas who wanted to enter the professional ranks, but needed to work full time while they earned academic degrees. LEAs recruited talented and committed paraprofessionals and other employees they felt could contribute to improving the quality of their communityís schools. IHEs scheduled under-graduate courses to accommodate worker-student needs, tutored candidates for high school equivalency tests, provided intensive academic counseling to help students navigate college bureaucracies, conducted study groups to help reinforce learning, and offered classes off campus near studentsí homes.

Kaplanís analysis of the various components of COP found that although it proved to be an effective approach for recruiting and preparing more than 20,000 non-traditional students from under-represented racial, cultural and linguistic backgrounds to enter education professions, when the federal funding ended, the majority of these programs also ended. Currently we are seeing a resurgence of interest among teacher educators in the recruitment of paraeducators, and many of the lessons learned through COP are serving as a foundation for contemporary teacher preparation programs (Haselkorn & Fideler, 1996).

At the same time that LEAs and IHEs nationwide were actively engaged in developing the COP models, a few SEAs began to develop credentialing procedures that established criteria for paraprofessional employment and preparation. The states that developed paraprofessional credentialing systems in the late 1960s and 1970s were Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Vermont, and Wisconsin. With the exception of Kansas, these credentialing systems were more administrative than regulatory in nature. As a result, they were not mandatory and, therefore LEAs were not required to train paraeducators or employ individuals who could meet the criteria set by the SEA. They did, however, provide standards for LEAs to voluntarily follow if they decided to create opportunities for career advancement through different levels of paraprofessional positions. Rather than develop credentialing systems, the remaining states chose to establish guidelines that outlined duties for paraprofessionals and placed the responsibility of setting standards for paraprofessional employment, roles, training and supervision with LEAs. Moreover, with the exception of Kansas, no states provided technical assistance or financial resources to support the development of systematic training for paraprofessionals (Fafard, 1974; Pickett, 1989.)

In addition, despite the increased participation of paraprofessionals in all phases of the instructional process, only minimal references were made to teacher supervisory roles in state policies, regulatory procedures, and standards e.g. "teacher aides work under the direction of licensed/certificated teachers". Of even greater significance was the practice established by an overwhelming majority of LEAs of designating principals as the supervisors of paraprofessionals; indeed this practice is still part of most contractual agreements or administrative guidelines in todayís schools. As a result the roles of teachers as planners, directors, and monitors of the day-to-day activities of paraprofessionals were not recognized and they were not prepared for these supervisory responsibilities--a practice that continues today (Pickett, 2003).

The decade of the 1980s was a time of vigorous debate about how to end a perceived decline in the quality of education services throughout the United States. Reports issued by governmental agencies, IHEs, and other stakeholders in the private and public sectors were concerned with the need for significant reform in education policies and practices. Initially these concerns centered on two issues: 1) the need for higher standards for learner performance and increased teacher accountability for learning outcomes, and 2) the need to attract and prepare a highly competent teaching force (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983). Later in the decade advocates for better schools added other items to the reform agenda. They were connected to a growing realization that by enabling school staff and parents to participate in identifying the learning needs of the children and youth in "their schools" and deciding which programs would best meet identified learner needs the performance and the quality of education could be improved. As a result, leaders in education reform movements began to reassess the practice of governing schools from central offices, and the concept of creating opportunities for site based management began to take shape (Bauch and Goldring, 1998; Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy, 1987; Pipho, 2000). The efforts that began in the 1980s laid the groundwork for contemporary activities to strengthen the team leadership and program development roles of teachers. For the most part however the need for differentiated staffing arrangements to support and enable teachers to carry out new, more complex program and administrative functions has been ignored. The failure of these initiatives to recognize the growing reliance on paraeducators has contributed to a lack of understanding of the need to prepare teachers for their expanding roles as supervisors of paraeducators. In fact, throughout the 1980ís, only the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals (NRCP), a collaborative effort between the Nebraska Department of Education and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and to a limited extent the Council for Exceptional Children were urging SEAs, LEAs, and IHEs to establish standards and develop curriculum content to prepare teachers to plan for, direct, and monitor the day to day activities of paraeducators. Initially these efforts focused on special education programs, and did not recognize the need to prepare teachers in Title I or other programs and disciplines for their supervisory roles (Heller & Pickett, 1981; Pickett, 1981; Pickett, 1986; Vasa & Steckleberg, 1987.) It was not until the early 1990s that a few more IHEs began to follow the lead of the Department of Education and Communication Disorders at the University of Nebraska, and added curriculum content to their programs to prepare teachers to supervise paraeducators. (Lindemann & Beegle, 1988; Salzberg & Morgan, 1995; Pickett, Vasa & Steckelberg, 1993).

Moreover, limited federal support for paraprofessional preparation during the 1980s, was another factor that led to a decline in interest in the broad range of issues that influenced the performance of teacher and paraprofessional teams in the delivery of instructional and other direct services. Thus career development programs for paraeducators that began in the 1970s had all but disappeared or had not been changed to reflect the evolving roles of both teachers and paraeducators. So by the close of the decade of the ë80s, paraeducators had become the "forgotten members of education teams" (Pickett, 1994, p. 2).

Paraeducator State of the Art: The Present

A review of recent literature has identified several factors that have rekindled interest in paraeducator employment, roles, supervision, and preparation.. In several cases federal legislative actions brought about surges in paraeducator employment (i.e. The Education of the Handicapped Act, 1986 that required LEAs to provide services to children ages 3 to 5 who have disabilities or chronic health needs that place them at risk, and IDEA, 1990 that recognized the need for vocational and other community based programs to prepare learners with disabilities to make the transition from school to work.) Throughout the 1990s amendments to various federal laws stressed the need for but did not mandate SEAs, LEAs and IHEs to strengthen and expand professional development opportunities to assure the availability of highly skilled personnel at all levels including, paraprofessionals. (Provisions in IDEA, 1997 and the NCLB, 2001 that require SEAs to set standards for paraeducator employment, supervision and preparation are discussed more fully in Part III.) In addition, Pickett (2003) has identified additional trends and issues that have existed for several years that led to increased paraeducator employment and increased need for standards for their role, preparation and performance. They include, but are not limited to:
  • Ongoing efforts to more effectively serve children and youth with disabilities in learning environments that are centered on their inclusion in general education and community based school-to-work programs (Downing, Ryndak & Clark, 2000; Giangreco, Edelman, Luiselli & McFarland, 1997; Marks, Schrader & Levine, 1999; Pickett, 1999; Riggs & Mueller, 2001; Rogan & Held, 1999).
  • Increasing numbers of learners nationwide, who come from diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic heritages (Bureau of the Census, 2001; Bureau of Labor Statistics, DOL, 2000; Genzuk & Baca, 1997; Haselkorn & Fideler, 1996; NCES, 2000; OSEPRS, 2000; Rueda & Monzo, 2000).
  • Growing demands for improved and personalized instruction and compensatory education for learners who come from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds (United States Department of Education, 1999; Haselkorn & Fideler, 1996).
  • Continuing shortfalls of licensed/credentialed teachers in virtually all program areas (American Association for Employment in Education, 1999; NCES, 1995 & 2000; OSEPRS, 2000; Recruiting New Teachers, 1997).
  • Evolving roles of teachers as managers of instructional programs, leaders of instructional teams, and participants in school based governance and decision ó making activities (Bauch & Goldring, 1998; Drecktrah, 2000; French, 2001; French & Pickett, 1997; Lieberman & Miller, 2000; Pickett, 1999; Pickett, Vasa & Steckelberg, 1993; Pipho, 2000; Wallace, Jongho, Bartholomay, & Stahl, 2001).

Teacher and Paraeducator Team Roles

Teacher Roles. One of the most significant, but least appreciated reasons for increased employment of paraeducators are the new dimensions added to traditionally recognized teachersí functions. Efforts that build on various education reform initiatives to increase standards and accountability for learning outcomes have led to significant changes in teacher roles. Throughout the 1990s , in response to concerns, agreement began to emerge among professional organizations that represent different education disciplines and unions as well as the various researchers cited throughout this report about teacher responsibilities that may not be delegated to paraeducators (AFT, 1998; Drecktrah, 2000; French 2001; French & Pickett, 1997; 1999; NAEYC, 1994; NEA, 2000; NJCLD, 1999; Pickett, 1999; Pickett & Safarik, 2003; Snodgrass, 1991; Wallace, et al, 2001). Those responsibilities include:
  • Diagnosing learner needs,
  • Consulting with colleagues to plan individualized/personalized programs for all learners who can benefit from them,
  • Creating and maintaining learner-centered environments,
  • Aligning curriculum with instructional strategies,
  • Planning lessons,
  • Modifying content and instructional activities to meet the needs of individual learners,
  • Facilitating learning,
  • Assessing learning outcomes, and
  • Involving parents or other caregivers in all aspects of their childís education.
With the advent of site based decision making and governance, teacher roles have expanded to also include active participation along with principals, other staff, and parents in determining: 1) which programs will most effectively meet the needs of learners in "their schools", and 2) how best to allocate human, fiscal and technological resources to meet the program objectives. To carryout these varied tasks, teachers require the assistance of paraeducators and other support staff. As a result the team leadership and supervisory functions of teachers have increased significantly, to include planning paraeducator assignments, directing and monitoring paraeducator performance, and providing on-the-job training for paraeducators (Drecktrah, 2000; French, 2001; French & Pickett, 1997; Moshoyannis, et al 1999; NJCLD, 1999;Pickett & Safarik, 2003; Pickett, 1999; Pickett, Vasa, and Steckleberg, 1993; Wallace, et al 2001). Appendix 1 contains guidelines for a scope of responsibilities for teachers as team leaders and supervisors of paraeducators. Paraeducator Roles. The evolution in teacher roles has had a profound impact on the nature of paraeducator roles. Over the last forty plus years since they were introduced into our nationís schools, the roles of "teacher aides" have become more complex and demanding. "In todayís schools, aides/assistants work along side and assist teachers with the delivery of instructional and other direct services for learners and/or their parents/caregivers. Indeed they have become technicians who are more aptly described as paraeducators just as their counterparts in law and medicine are designated as paralegals and paramedics" (Pickett, page 1, 1989). While they still perform clerical tasks, duplicate materials, and monitor learners in non-academic settings, under the supervision of teachers and in some cases related services professionals, paraeducators in early childhood, elementary, middle and secondary classrooms and programs:
  • Engage individual and small groups of learners in instructional activities developed by teachers,
  • Carryout behavior management and disciplinary plans developed by teachers,
  • Assist teachers with functional and other assessment activities,
  • Document and provide objective information about learner performance that enables teachers to plan and modify curriculum and learning activities for individuals,
  • Assist teachers with organizing learning activities and maintaining supportive environments, and
  • Assist teachers with involving parents or other caregivers in their childís education.
Appendix 2 contains a scope of responsibilities for paraeducators that provides a model for identifying knowledge and skill competencies required by paraeducators who work in different programs and settings.

Paraeducator Demographics and Deployment

Determining the number of paraeducators employed by LEAs and the programs they are assigned to is not an exact science. Federal and state agencies concerned with the delivery of education services in different program areas use different approaches to data collection. Thus the data collected does not always provide a clear picture of how many full time equivalency (FTE) positions for paraeducator exist in our nationís schools or the programs they are assigned to (general and special education, Title I and other compensatory or remedial programs, multi lingual and ESL programs, early childhood and transition services programs). A report published by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in 2000 Non-professional Staff in the Schools and Staffing Survey(SASS)and Common Core of Data (CCD,Working Paper No. 2000-13 acknowledges that limited information is available on education support staff (teacher, library, computer laboratory aides or assistants, secretaries, bus drives, custodians).

Depending on the mission of a federal agency and its reporting mechanisms there may be a lag time of six to eight years before relevant data is available to stakeholders who can benefit from them. Moreover no single federal agency gathers and maintains data about paraeducators who assist teachers in the broad range of programs that provide instructional and other direct services for learners or their families. The following are examples of how data is collected and reported by different federal agencies.

Information published in the NCES Working Paper 2000-13 provided a comparison of data collected during the 1993-94 school year about teacher aides employed in programs including Chapter I, other instructional programs that were not specified, and library and media centers. In 1993-94 there were approximately 319,000 full time and 151,000 part time teacher aides other than Chapter I aides working in the nationís schools, and 96,000 Chapter I aides. (Although the NCES survey intended to count the Chapter I aides as a separate category, the paper indicates that it is possible that some or all of the Chapter I aides were also counted in the teacher aides category.) There were an additional 32,000 full time and 23,000 part time library and media center aides. These data did not identify the number of paraeducators employed in multi-lingual or special education programs. In 1999 another agency, the USDE Planning and Evaluation Service, reported that there were approximately 76,900 fulltime Title I paraeducators, however there was no indication of the number of paraeducators assigned to special education, multi-lingual and other compensatory programs.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2000-01 published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an operating office of the U.S. Department of Labor, presents another picture of the number of paraeducators working in public and private schools, and early childhood education. According to self-reported data there are about 1.2 million teacher aides and assistants employed in these three settings. The paraeducators who provided the data reported that they are employed primarily in elementary and early childhood programs including day care centers. The Handbook also reports that a "significant number" of the paraeducators are assigned to special education (beyond that these data do not identify specific program areas where paraeducators work).

In some cases, the instruments used by the Federal agencies to collect the data can add to an already confusing state of affairs. For example, data collected by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS), U.S.D.E. asks states for information on the number of "teacher aides" who are either certified or uncertified. Respondents to this question overwhelmingly report that the majority of "teacher aides" in their state are certified, even though the vast majority of the states do not have certification/licensure systems for paraeducators, teacher aides/assistants, transitional or early childhood assistants.

Although paraeducators are employed in different categorical areas of special education OSERS does not collect data on the number of aides or assistants who are assigned to work one-to-one with individual learners in self contained classrooms or to facilitate inclusion into general education programs, those who are assigned to transition services programs, those who work in self-contained or resource classrooms, and those who are assigned to early childhood programs. Currently the total number of teacher aides reported by OSERS to be providing services to children and youth with disabilities or other special needs, ages 3-21 totals approximately 250,000. Paraprofessionals assigned to early intervention programs serving infants, toddlers and their parents/caregivers are the only category reported separately, and that number is approximately 3500 (Annual Report to Congress, 2000).

In an effort to gain a more accurate picture of the programs and working environments where paraeducators are assigned, as well as SEA policies and regulatory procedures that impact on their roles, supervision and preparation, the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals in Education and related Services (NRCP) periodically conducts surveys of Chief State School Officers (CSSOs) in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Territories, the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

On the surface it would appear that this should be a fairly easy task to accomplish. In reality it is not. First, most states collect data only about paraeducators assigned to programs receiving federal funds and keep the information in separate data bases rather than maintaining a central data bank about the numbers of paraeducators employed in all programs administered by LEAs; many states do not gather information on paraeducators who provide instructional services or work in libraries and media centers who are usually supported by local tax levy funds (in some cases they provided estimated numbers). Second, finding a single individual in an SEA who can provide data on the numbers of paraeducators employed in the state and who is also aware of state laws, written policies, and regulatory procedures can be a daunting chore. Indeed over the last three decades, in many cases, the person completing the survey has reported that the state does not have policies, guidelines or a credentialing system for paraeducators, even though the authors know that they exist.

The research questions in the most recent survey conducted by the NRCP were designed to gather the following information:

  1. The total number of full time equivalency (FTE) paraeducator positions in general, special and compensatory/remedial education and related services. (Although we are aware that many paraeducators work part-time, we chose to gather information on FTE positions in order to provide a better understanding of the number of paraeducators LEAs require to assist teachers with the delivery of instructional and other direct services to all learners who can benefit from individualized programs or personalized attention.)
  2. The number of paraeducators deployed in different instructional programs: Title I, multi-lingual, inclusive general and special education programs, libraries, computer laboratories and other education settings.
  3. Current written policies, standards and systems required by state law, administrative guidelines, or regulatory procedures in the following areas: a) paraeducator employment and roles, b) similarities and differences in the knowledge and skill competencies required by paraeducators working in different programs or position levels, c) standards for paraeducator pre- and in-service preparation and career development, d) credentialing systems for paraeducators, e) standards for paraeducator supervision, and f) standards for preparing teachers for their supervisory roles.

All fifty states, the District of Columbia, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Guam, American Samoa, and the Department of Defense responded to the NRCP survey. The survey was initiated in the 1999-2000 school year and was completed in 2001using follow up phone calls or re-sending surveys to individuals we had identified in a state who could provide more complete information. Even so the information provided by many states is not complete and thus is only approximate.

The results of the survey with regard to paraeducator employment contained the following information. There are more than 525,000 paraeducators currently employed in FTE positions nationwide. Of that number approximately 290,000 are employed in inclusive general and special education programs, self-contained and resource rooms, transition services and early childhood settings serving children and youth with disabilities. (One critical piece of information that is very difficult to obtain are the number of paraeducators who are assigned to work one-to-one with individual learners). Approximately 130,000 paraeducators are assigned to multi-lingual, Title I or other compensatory programs. The remainder work in pre-school and elementary classrooms and other learning environments including libraries, media centers, and computer laboratories. Again it is important to stress that all of these numbers are only approximate, because most states do not maintain central data bases, some gather only data required by federal programs, and some states report that the data are not available by program areas.

While the data gathered by the NRCP provide an incomplete picture of paraeducator employment across the country, they do help to identify the gaps in information that make it difficult for federal policy makers and administrative agencies, SEAs, LEAs, IHEs, and other stakeholders to identify and set appropriate standards for paraeducator employment, roles, supervision, and of critical importance, to create viable systems for the preparation of a well trained and appropriately supervised paraeducator workforce. To facilitate the development of standards and systems and build on the resources of different stakeholders, SEAs need to systematically gather and maintain information about the number of paraeducators employed in all education and related services agencies as well as the program areas and grade levels where they are assigned. In addition Federal agencies and law makers should encourage and provide incentives to states to gather this information.

Without the availability of accurate, up-to-date information, state and local needs cannot be determined, priorities cannot be established and systems cannot be developed; and in far too many cases, legislative and administrative actions are taken without complete knowledge and understanding of the needs and issues that impact on the performance of teacher and paraeducator teams.

State Policies, Standards and Systems

Increased reliance on paraeducators with greater emphasis on their instructional and learner support roles has not resulted in the development of policies and systems to improve their performance, supervision, and preparation; in many states where they do exist, written policies, regulatory procedures, and administrative practices have not been evaluated and revised since they were established in the 1960s and 1970s.

The continuing efforts of the NRCP and the work of other investigators indicate, that in addition to establishing a central database with employment and deployment information about all paraeducators, there are other critical issues requiring the attention of policy makers and SEA administrators working in concert with LEAs, personnel developers in IHEs, professional organizations, unions, parents, and other advocates for better schools. These issues are connected with the fact that while the majority of paraeducators spend all or part of their time assisting teachers, early childhood educators, and transition specialists in the instructional process they are rarely adequately trained to carry out their assigned tasks (Blaylock, 1991; Downing, Ryndak, & Clark, 2000; Fafard, 1974; Killoran, et al, 2001; Miromontes, 1990; Moshoyannis et al, 1999; Pickett, 1999; Passaro, Pickett, Lathem & Hongbo, 1994; Riggs & Mueller, 2001; Rogan & Held, 2000; Rueda & Monzo, 2000; Snodgrass, 1991).

Analysis of the most recent NRCP survey of CSSOs and a comparison with earlier surveys provides ample evidence of why it is so important for SEAs to join forces with other stakeholders to address issues that influence the performance of teachers and paraeducator teams. They can be summarized as follows:

  • During the past 20 years SEAs, LEAs, and IHEs have paid scant attention, either together or on their own to a) determining core skills and knowledge for all paraeducators and the specialized skills required by programs/positions they are assigned to, b)defining experiential and education qualifications for entry level employment, c) establishing criteria for advancement to paraeducator positions that require higher levels of knowledge and skill competencies, and d) setting standards and developing indicators for assessing paraeducator knowledge and ability to demonstrate mastery of skills required to assist teachers with the delivery of instructional programs.
  • Training for paraeducators when it is available is usually highly parochial, is rarely competency based or part of seamless systems of career development that include: a) systematic on-the-job training, b) opportunities for competency based pre- and in-service training, and c) access to flexible degree programs that enable skilled, talented paraeducators to continue to work while they earn academic credentials.
  • Only fourteen states have credentialing or licensure mechanisms for paraeducators. They range from multi-level systems that define roles, competencies, training and career advancement criteria to one-dimensional systems that do not specify role or training requirements. As we noted in the section on the history of paraeducator employment many of the systems were non-binding and LEAs were not required to provide training based on either statewide or local standards. This is still true today. The states with licensure/certification systems are found in Appendix 3.
  • Another thirteen states have chosen to establish standards or guidelines for paraeducator roles and competency based training. Some, but not all of these states provide support and assist LEAs with the development of training models. The assistance may be in the form of material development, sponsorship of statewide conferences for paraeducators, or technical assistance. Because these standards are not always part of the stateís regulatory procedures, LEAs are not mandated to follow the guidelines for developing and maintaining standards. The states that have established standards for paraeducator employment, roles, knowledge and skills, preparation are contained in Appendix 3.
  • Although contemporary education reform initiatives emphasize the team and program management functions of teachers, they have overlooked the supervisory responsibilities of teachers. Currently two states, Minnesota and Washington require as part of their teacher credentialing systems that special education teachers be prepared to supervise and work effectively with paraeducators. Eleven other states report that they have established standards for teacher responsibilities as supervisors of paraeducators. Analysis of the "standards" reveal that with the exception of Rhode Island and Utah, most are minimal at best. As a result, the overwhelming majority of teacher education programs do not provide their graduates with an understanding of the components of the instructional process they may not delegate to paraeducators and which tasks may be shared with paraeducators. Nor do they prepare them to 1) plan paraeducator assignments, 2) monitor the day to day performance of paraeducators, 3) provide on the job training to paraeducators, 4) objectively share relevant information with principals about paraeducator strengths and training needs..The states with standards or guidelines for paraeducator supervision are contained in Appendix 3.
  • The need to recruit and prepare committed highly skilled teachers for all education disciplines is well documented. The need to attract men and women from diverse ethnic, cultural and multi- language heritages is particularly acute throughout all geographic regions and demographic areas across the country (Bureau of the Census, 2001; Genzuk and Baca, 1998; NCES, 1995& 2000; Recruiting New Teachers, 1997). An important but overlooked resource for addressing these continuing shortages is the paraeducator workforce (Genzuk & Baca, 1998; Rueda & Monzo, 2000; Haselkorn & Fideler, 1996).

In response to these and other issues that impact the quality of education for all learners, Congress has amended both the IDEA, 1997 and NCLB Act, 2001 to include significant provisions that acknowledge the evolving roles of teachers and paraeducators as members of instructional teams. The amendments to these two federal laws call for higher standards for paraeducator preparation, improved supervision of paraeducators and opportunities for career development for paraeducators.

The 1997 reauthorization of IDEA was the first federal legislation to proactively recognize the critical need to prepare paraeducators to assist with the delivery of special education services and the need to prepare teachers for their emerging supervisory roles. This is reflected in provisions that allow LEAs to employ paraprofessionals and assistants who are appropriately trained and supervised in compliance with state laws, regulations, or written policy to assist with the provision of special education and related services for school age children and youth with disabilities (Part B, section 612 [a]). Part C (section 635[a]) is concerned with personnel who work with infants and toddlers and their families and mandates the preparation of professionals and paraprofessionals in areas of early intervention with the content knowledge and collaborative skills needed to meet the needs of infants and toddlers with disabilities in accordance with state approved or recognized certification, licensure, or regulations.

Amendments that are destined to have an even a greater impact on paraeducator preparation, roles and supervision have been made to Title I of the NCLB Act of 2001. The amendments set standards for the employment, preparation, and assessment of paraeducators, specify duties that may be performed by paraprofessionals, and require paraprofessionals who provide instructional services to be supervised by credentialed teachers. Although the amendments require paraprofessionals to work under the direction of teachers they do not require SEAs to set standards for preparing teachers for their roles in planning for, directing and monitoring paraprofessionals. There are amendments to several Titles throughout the bill that address paraprofessional roles and training. The most significant are found in Section 1119 in Title I. They address qualifications for teachers and paraprofessionals. (Note throughout this section we use the term paraprofessional, rather than paraeducator because that is the term used in the NCLB Act.)

Subsection (1)(c) requires LEAs receiving assistance under this part of the No Child Left Behind Act to ensure that all new paraprofessionals or those employed prior to January 8, 2001 who work in positions funded by Title I have:

  • A high school diploma or its equivalent-- no matter what their position is or their responsibilities. Paraprofessionals assigned to provide parent involvement or translation services are not required to meet any further education requirements beyond the high school diploma or a GED.

In addition all new paraprofessionals employed after January 8, 2002 in programs funded by Title I must:

  • complete at least 2 years of study at an institution of higher education prior to employment; OR
  • obtain an associate or higher degree prior to employment; OR
  • meet a rigorous standard of quality and demonstrate through a formal state or local academic assessment (i) knowledge and the ability to assist in instruction reading, writing, and mathematics, or (ii) knowledge of and the ability to assist in instructing reading readiness, writing readiness, and mathematics readiness, as appropriate.

Subsection (1) (d) requires LEAs to ensure that all currently employed paraprofessionals shall:

  • not later than 4 years after the date of enactment satisfy the requirements of subsection (1) (c).

Subsection (1)(g) specifies duties paraprofessionals may be assigned. They may:

  • provide one-to-one tutoring for eligible for eligible students;
  • assist with classroom management;
  • assist in a computer laboratory;
  • provide support in a library or media center;
  • act as a translator;
  • conduct parent involvement activities.

Subsection (1)(g) also addresses supervision of paraprofessionals:

  • paraprofessionals may not provide any instructional service to students unless they work under the direct supervision of a teacher.

SEAs have started to develop standards and procedures to meet the requirements of NCLB Act. Many of them are taking a big deep breath, stepping back and initiating a very thoughtful approach to establishing the standards and infrastructures. There is reason, however for concern about what the final outcomes will be in many states that are rushing to get something on the books to meet the objectives of the legislation; thus raising the possibility that systems will be put into place that will still be highly parochial, will not recognize the similarities in the roles of paraeducators working in all programs administered by LEAs, will not be competency based, and will not facilitate career advancement for paraeducators.

Other concerns are linked to the development of the academic assessment instruments required by NCLB. Will the academic assessments adequately reflect the ability of paraeducators to provide instruction in reading, mathematics, and writing, and reading readiness, mathematic readiness, and writing readiness? Will SEAs or LEAs develop and recognize other standardized methods that will enable paraeducators to demonstrate competence to assist teachers to carryout instructional activities. Still other unanswered questions center on how the exemptions from meeting education standards for paraeducators who provide instructional services will impact on paraeducators who assist parents and those who provide translation services. How will these exemptions impact on their continuing employment, on opportunities for career advancement, the development of standards for the skill and knowledge competencies they require to assist parents, learners, and teachers?

At the present time Congress and OSERS have started the process of amending IDEA. Work on the reauthorization process is scheduled for completion sometime in 2003. While we cannot predict what the final outcomes of the Congressional debate will be, there are indications that the requirements for paraeducator roles, supervision and preparation will be the same or similar to those established by the NCLB Act of 2001.

Developing Strategies

Commitments have been made at the federal, state and local levels to improve the quality of instruction and other education services for all learners and their families. On the surface the provisions in IDEA, 1997 and ESEA, 2001 would seem to be hopeful signs that will ensure the availability of a highly skilled and appropriately supervised paraeducator workforce. Assuring compliance with the intent and spirit of the federal legislative actions is not an easy task. Although there has been some progress in developing policies and standards to improve the performance of teacher and paraeducator teams since the passage of IDEA, 1997, in far too many situations these efforts have been piecemeal and have not led to infrastructures and policies that are integral parts of statewide systems of personnel development.

With the reauthorization of NCLB 2001, development of statewide standards that clearly define distinctions in teacher and paraeducator roles, identify knowledge and skill competencies for paraeductors, create standards, academic assessment instruments and other methods that enable paraeducators to demonstrate skill mastery is critical. As SEAs begin their efforts to address these and other issues connected with paraeducator preparation and supervision, these efforts are not always going forward systematically, and unfortunately many are being developed in isolation.

SEAs should not develop the standards and infrastructures alone. They need to work in concert with LEAs, IHEs, professional organizations, unions, parents and other stakeholders to establish standards for paraeducator roles, preparation, and supervision that reflect best practices. After that is accomplished, they need to move on and develop systems to ensure that the standards are met by providing pre- and in-service training for paraeducators, and that teacher education programs prepare graduates for their roles as planners of paraeducators assignments and directors and monitors of paraeducatorís day-to-day performance.

The lack of access to meaningful data and other information about paraeducator employment, roles, preparation and supervision within a state adversely affects the capacity of SEAs and their partners to improve the quality of paraeducator performance. It is the responsibility of SEAs to gather relevant data about all aspects of paraeducator employment in the various programs administered by LEAs and to maintain it in an accessible centralized database. When this is done, the different partners will have the information they need to make informed decisions about how best to address the needs of their state. Pickett (2003) has identified a series of issues that require the attention of SEAs working in concert with their partners, they include:

  • Delineating teacher responsibilities that may not be delegated or assigned to paraeducators, and the responsibilities that may be shared with paraeducators;
  • Determining similarities and distinctions in the roles and responsibilities of paraeducators working in different programs or positions;
  • Identifying a common core of skills required by all paraeducators, and hierarchies of knowledge and skills for paraeducators working in programs where they have greater independence and require more advanced complex skills;
  • Establishing standards for paraeducator supervision;
  • Establishing standards for paraeducator performance as team members in different programs and positions;
  • Developing and implementing competency based, comprehensive systems of pre and in-service training for paraeducators tied to opportunities for career advancement;
  • Identifying the knowledge and skill competencies required by teachers who supervise paraeducators; and
  • Establishing standards for preparing teachers to carry out their supervisory responsibilities.


Administrators in SEAs and LEAs are confronted with many challenges as they continue their efforts to achieve higher performance standards for all learners. One of the most important strategies for meeting these challenges includes: 1) developing standards for paraeducator roles, preparation and supervision, and 2) embedding the standards in state rules or regulatory procedures. Incorporating the standards into the rules and procedures will ensure the creation and maintenance of infrastructures for delivering competency based paraeducator training and career advancement. Central to strengthening the performance of instructional teams is the need to prepare teachers to supervise and work effectively with paraeducators. To accomplish these goals, SEAs and LEAs must work in partnership with IHEs and other stakeholders. Establishing and nurturing these partnerships takes time and commitment. It is therefore, important for all partners to be willing to stay the course and complete the process of developing the standards and systems to strengthen the performance of teacher and paraeducator teams.


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Appendix 1

The parameters for scopes of responsibilities for teachers and paraeducators as team members were developed by the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals (NRCP) thru a grant of national significance funded by the Division of Personnel Preparation, Office of Personnel Preparation, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Although OSEP funded the project, one of the primary goals was to identify the similarities in the responsibilities of teacher and paraeducator teams serving learners with diverse instructional and related services needs in early childhood settings, elementary, middle and secondary schools. The NRCP was assisted by a taskforce representing: SEAs. LEAs, professional organizations, two and four year IHEs, unions and parents. The proposed scopes of responsibilities developed by the taskforce and the standards for knowledge and skill competencies teachers and paraeducators required to carryout their responsibilities were validated and revised using a mail survey conducted among administrators in state and local education agencies, teachers, paraeducators, personnel developers in 2 and 4 year IHEs and other stakeholders The scopes of responsibilities for teachers are divided into six areas of responsibility. They along with standards for skill and knowledge competencies required by teachers to effectively lead instructional teams and supervise paraeducators are contained in: STRENGTHENING TEACHER/PROVIDER- PARAEDUCATOR TEAMS: GUIDELINES FOR PARAEDUCATOR ROLES, SUPERVISION AND PREPARATION (Pickett, 1999). The same publication contains scopes of responsibilities, knowledge and skill competencies, and performance indicators for paraeducators


The scope of responsibilities for teachers as supervisors of paraeducators includes:

  1. Preparing assignments for paraeducators based on program needs, learning objectives for children and youth, and paraeducator skills.
  2. Involving paraedcators in various components of the learning process to support teacher administrative and program functions.
  3. Providing on-the-job training and feedback to paraeducators to prepare them to carry out team decisions,
  4. Monitoring the day-to-day performance of paraeducators,
  5. Sharing relevant information with principals about paraeducator strengths and professional development needs.


The scope of responsibilities for teachers in providing supportive learner-centered environments includes:

  1. Implementing, with the assistance of paraeducators, district policies and procedures for protecting the safety, health, and well-being of learners and staff.
  2. Involving paraeducators in learning activities that provide supportive and inclusive learning environments that respect differences among children, youth, their families, and staff.


The scope of responsibility for teachers for planning and organizing learning experiences includes:

  1. Planning lessons,
  2. Aligning curriculum content with and performance standards,
  3. Developing behavioral plans to achieve learning objectives and performance standards,
  4. Modifying learning pland and instructional strategies to accommodate difference in individual children and youth,

Involving paraeducators in planning and organizing learning experiences based on paraeducator qualifications to carryout the tasks.


The scope of responsibility for teachers for ensuring that children and youth are actively engaged in learning experiences includes:

  1. Providing, with the assistance of paraeducators, learning experiences that take place in different environments (classrooms, libraries, study halls, playgrounds, worksites and community based settings and center or home-based programs for infants and young children and their parents).
  2. Preparing paraeducators to use the methods, materials, and equipment required to carryout learning activities document learner performance.


The scope of responsibilities for teachers in the assessment process includes:

  1. Administering and analyzing, with the assistance of other team members, results of standardized instruments for assessing learner achievement.
  2. Developing functional (informal) assessment tools to document learner performance.
  3. Analyzing the results of functional assessment activities.
  4. Keeping records documenting learner performance required by federal laws and state and district policies.
  5. Involving paraeducators in assessment and record-keeping activities for which they are prepared.

RESPONSIBILITY 6: AS TEAM LEADERS, TEACHERS PRACTICE STANDARDS OF PROFESSIOAL AND ETHICAL CONDUCT The scope of professional and ethical responsibilities for teachers connected with the supervision, evaluation and preparation of paraeducators includes:

  1. Adhering to the ethical and professional standards of conduct related to the supervision of and evaluation of paraeducators established by the professional organization representing their discipline and/or the district or state.
  2. Modeling standards of professional and ethical conduct for paraeducators (i.e., maintaining confidentiality, demonstrating respect for the cultures and human and civil rights of learners and their families).
  3. Ensuring that paraeducators follow guidelines established by the district and/or state to protect the health, safety and well-being of learners and staff.
  4. Participating in opportunities for professional development that improve supervisory and team building skills.

Appendix 2

The scopes of responsibilities for paraeducators as members of instructional teams developed by the NRCP project of national significance are divided into the same six theme areas as those for the teachers. The analysis of the validation survey, identified a common core of knowledge and skills required by all paraeducators. The common core of competencies serves as the basis for the scope of responsibilities for a level 1 paraeducator position. The scopes of responsibilities for the levels 2 and 3 paraeducator positions are based on analysis of paraeducator functions that require more complex knowledge and skills.

The level 2 scope of responsibilities applies to paraeducaots who work in pre-school, elementary, general and special education programs including self-contained and resource classrooms. For the most part these are paraeducators who work under the supervision of one teacher. The primary distinction in the responsibilities of levels 1 and 2 paraeducator positions is that greater emphasis is placed on the instructional functions of paraeducators in level 2. Moreover level 2 paraeducators participate in regularly scheduled on-the-job training sessions with teachers. And when required by learner needs or program requirements, level 2 paraeducators participate in IEP, ITP, and IFSP team planning meetings.

There are also several distinctions in the roles of levels 2 and 3 paraeducator positions. The first is that level 3 paraeducators, who facilitate inclusion of learners with disabilities into general education programs work along side of more than one teacher. The same is true for paraeducators who work in ESL/multi-lingual programs, transition services programs for learners who are moving from school to the adult world. Level 3 paraeducators who work in Title I, multi-lingual and special education programs may help teachers involve families in their childís learning experiences and activities. Level 3 paraeducators may have some discretionary authority to modify learning activities developed by teachers. Level 3 paraeducators may if appropriately prepared administered standardized tests. And because state and local policies connected with documenting and maintaining learner records are becoming more demanding and time consuming level 3 paraeducators may assist with these activities (Pickett, 1999).



The scope of responsibilities for level 1 paraeducators includes;

  1. Carrying out team decisions as assigned by the teacher;
  2. Sharing relevant information about learners with teachers to facilitate problem solving, decision making, program planning and other team activities.


The scope of responsibilities for level 2 paraeducators includes the responsibilities of level 1 paraeducators, plus:

  1. Assisting teachers in activities that engage children and youth in learning experiences.


The scope of responsibilities for level 3 paraeducators includes the responsibilities of level 2 paraeducators plus:

  1. Assisting teachers with planning and organizing learning experiences.
  2. Attending IEP, ITP, and IFSP team meetings to assist with the development of programs for learners they work with.



The scopes of responsibilities for level 1 paraeducators includes:

  1. Assisting teachers with the implementation of district and state policies and procedures for protecting the safety, health and well-being of learners and staff.
  2. Implementing strategies, developed by teachers, that support inclusive environments, respect individual differences among learners, their families, and staff, and protect the human and legal rights of all individuals.


The scope of responsibilities for level 2 paraeducators includes all of the responsibilities for level 1 paraeducators.

LEVEL 3 The scope of responsponsibilities for level 3 paraeducators includes all of the responsibilities for level 1 and 2 paraeducators, plus:

  1. Assisting teachers with involving families in their childís learning experiences.



The scope of responsibilities for level 1 paraeducators includes:

  1. Duplicating learning materials.
  2. Maintaining learning centers.


The scope of responsibilities for level 2 paraeducators includes all of the responsibilities for level 1 paraeducators, plus:

  1. Gathering and sharing relevant information about the performance and behaviors of
  2. individual learners that supports the planning process.
  3. Assisting teacher with the preparation of learning resources.


The scope of responsibilities for level 3 paraeducators includes the responsibilities for level 1 and 2, plus:

  1. Assisting teachers with modifying learning strategies to accommodate different learning preferences abilitypreferences ability levels and other learning needs of individual children and youth.
  2. Inventorying supplies and ordering materials selected by the teacher.


LEVEL 1 The scope of responsibilities for level 1 paraeducators includes:

  1. Following lesson plans and learning strategies developed by teachers.
  2. Reinforcing learning activities introduced by the teacher.


The scope of responsibilities for level 2 paraeducators includes the responsibilities for level 1, plus:

  1. Implementing behavioral programs developed by the teacher for individual learners.
  2. Assisting children and youth with individualized learning activities or independent study projects assigned by the teacher.


The scope of responsibilities for level 3 paraeducators includes the responsibilities for levesl 1 and 2, plus:

  1. Carrying out learning activities for children, youth and their families in homes, work sites,
  2. and community based settings.
  3. Assisting occupational and physical therapists, speech language pathologists, and nurses in the delivery of related services.



Level 1 paraeducators do not participate in assessment activities.


The scopes of responsibilities for level 2 paraeducators includes:

  1. Carrying out functional assessment activities to assist teachers in documenting information about learner strengths and needs.


The scope of responsibilities for level 3 paraeducators includes the responsibilities for level 2, plus:

  1. Administering standardized test based on district policy and the protocol for administering the tests and the paraeducatorís demonstrated ability for performing the tasks.
  2. Assisting teachers and other team members with maintaining learner records required by federal, state and district policies.


LEVELS 1,2, and 3

The scope of responsibilities for levels 1, 2 and 3 paraeducators includes:

  1. Assisting school administrators and teachers with protecting the civil, legal and human rights of learners and their families.
  2. Practicing the standards of professional and ethical conduct approved by the district or state for education and other human services personnel.
  3. Performing tasks that are within an identified scope of responsibility for paraeducators in different position levels.
  4. Following the chain of command established by the district to address policy questions, systems issues, and personnel practices.
  5. Following guidelines established by the district to protect the health, safety and well-being of learners.
  6. Pespecting individual differences among learners, families, and other staff.
  7. Participating in opportunities for continuing education and professional growth.

Appendix 3

Information in this appendix is based on the results of the most recent NRCP survey and follow- up phone calls to chief state school officers. The survey was designed to answer questions about the following policy and systemic issues.)

  1. Does your state have a credentialing, licensure or permit system for paraeducators? Is the system incorporated in written rules or regulatory procedures that mandate LEAs to comply with requirements for training and employment, or is it an optional system?
  2. Does your state have education standards or guidelines for paraeducator employment?
  3. Does your state have standards for paraeducator roles and responsibilities?
  4. Does your state have standards for knowledge and skill competencies for paraeducators who work in different programs and different positions?
  5. Does your state have guidelines for paraeducator supervision?
  6. Does your state have standards for preparing teachers to supervise paraeducators?


No two credentialing, certification, licensure, permit systems are alike. The only shared characteristic of the systems is that all are non-binding on LEAs. Currently, with the exception of requiring a minimum of a high school diploma or GED for employment as a teacher aide, there is little consensus among states with a credentialing systems about what the components of a credential should be, let alone what the standards for paraeducator roles, skills and preparation should be. Moreover, the states that have established standards for paraeducator preparation that are not embedded in their rules or regulatory procedures have no way of requiring LEAs to provide training for paraeducators that meet the standards. The following are the states that currently have a certification system in place.

ALABAMA (in effect since the 1970s applies to all paraeducators, 30 clock hours of formal training are required, additional standards for knowledge and skills and training for special education paraeducators established.)

DELAWARE (original system established in 1970s, revised in 1993, applies to all paraeducators, recognizes three levels of paraeducator positions, includes guidelines for training.)

FLORIDA (legislation enacted in 1998, includes guidelines for an optional career ladder, applies to all paraeducators.)

GEORGIA (two year licensure system applies to all paraeducators and includes guidelines for employment; LEAs are required to provide 30 clock hours of in-service training for tier 1 teacher aide; and 50 clock hours for tier 2 paraprofessionals, renewable after 3 years upon completion of 50 additional clock hours.)

ILLINOIS (in effect since the 1970s. applies to all paraeducators, LEAs are required to provide in-service training that is approved by the state superintendent).

IOWA (established in 2000, two levels of paraeducator certification apply to all paraeducators, Level 1 is a generalist certification and requires completion of at least 90 clock hours of training, and level 2 requires paraeducators to have an associate degree or have 62 hours at an IHE, all level 2 paraeducators must complete two semester hours of coursework involving at least 100 hours of supervised practicum.)

KANSAS (established in the mid 1970s, applies to special education paraeducators only, 3 tiered system with standards for advancement based on training that recognizes both in-service training and an AA degree or a combination of both.)

MAINE (recognizes three levels of education technician positions; tied to in-service and post secondary education, applies to all paraeducators).

NORTH CAROLINA (established by the NC Department of Labor in 2001, the credential contains standards for the employment and preparation of all paraeducators.)

NEW HAMPSHIRE (in effect since early 1970s, recently revised applies to all instructional paraeducators; a 3 three-tier system that requires LEAs to provide orientation training for level 1 paraeducators, and additional training to enable paraeducators to advance to levels 2 & 3.)

NEW MEXICO (a four tier licensing process was approved in 1990 for teacher aides, assistants, and OT & PT aides.)

NEW YORK (includes certification for teacher aides who must meet civil service requirements and four levels of teacher assistants beginning with a provisional license, advancement to higher levels based on in-service training and completion of post secondary requirements).

OHIO (recently revised, applies to all paraeducators, requires high school diploma, includes a suggested career ladder, training is non specific and not competency based.)

OKLAHOMA (in the process of establishing standards for a certification system that was created in response to legislation enacted in 1999; statndards for training andcertification for paraeducators working in special education programs for learners with severe and profound disabilities have been in place for several years,)

TEXAS (in effect since the early 1980s, applies to all paraeducators, local options for employment and training standards prevail).

WEST VIRGINIA (a licensure mechanism includes standards for training established for a Paraprofessional position; Paraprofessional employees are allowed to work more independently than teacher aides and assistants; there are no standards for training teacher aides and assistants.)


The knowledge and skill standards developed by most of the following states are designed to serve as non-binding guidelines for LEAs to follow as they develop training opportunities for paraeducators.

ARKANSAS (standards for special education paraeducator training have been established)

HAWAII (knowledge and skills for a three tiered training program, initially developed for special education paraeducators in response to a court ordered consent decree have now been expanded to accommodate Title I paraeducators; Orientation and Intermediate (levels 1 & 2) training is provided by the SEA; the Advanced (third level) is provided by community colleges in collaboration with the SEA.)

IDAHO (knowledge and skill standards established in 2001 for special education and Title I paraeducators were developed jointly by the two divisions in the SEA.)

MARYLAND (knowledge and skill standards established for all paraeducators.)

MICHIGAN (standards for paraeducators in early childhood have been established.)

MINNESOTA (SEA developed knowledge and skill standards for special education paraeducators in 1997, state legislation enacted in 1998 requires LEAs to ensure that paraeducators employed in special education have sufficient skill to perform their assigned tasks, and to provide training opportunities annually.)

MONTANA (training standards based on identified skills and knowledge required by special education paraeducators, and the SEA supports regional training opportunities.)

RHODE ISLAND (knowledge and skill standards for paraeducators established for special education and ESL/bilingual paraeducators were established by the SEA in 1998 and 1999.)

SOUTH CAROLINA (SEA has established standards for special education paraeducator skill and knowledge competencies.)

UTAH (established standards for special education paraeducator roles and preparation have been approved; work is currently underway to revise the skill and knowledge competencies to apply to Title I paraeducators as well.)

VERMONT (standards for special education paraeducator knowledge and skill competencies approved by State Board of Education in 2001 and have been incorporated in the stateís rules for special education; the certification system that applied to all paraeducators established in the 1970s is no longer recognized.)

WASHINGTON (core knowledge and skill competencies established for all paraeducators; community colleges have developed standards and a curriculum based on the core competencies).

WISCONSIN (standards for special education paraeducators have been developed and are awaiting approval; the certification system established for special education paraeducators in the 1970s is no longer recognized.)


Only states that have standards for paraeducator supervision that go beyond stating "that paraeducators work under the direct supervision of teachers"are included in this section.

CALIFORNIA (standards for preparing special education teachers to supervise paraeducators have been established, but are not part of the stateís credentialing system; legislation introduced in 2002 requiring that all teachers be prepared for emerging supervisory roles was not passed.)

MINNESOTA (standards for preparing special education teachers to supervise paraeducators are incorporated in the stateís licensure system.)

RHODE ISLAND (standards for the supervision of paraeducators developed at the same time as the standards for paraeducator knowedge and skills competencies were approved.)

UTAH (standards for paraeducator supervision are established.)

WASHINGTON (standards for preparing special education teachers to supervise paraeducators are incorporated in the state's licensure system.)

Career Ladder Articles

Paraeducator Professional Development Programs

These articles outline several professional development models designed to:

  • prepare paraeducators for their roles and responsibilities,
  • provide opportunities for advancement, and
  • encourage and assist with entry into the professional ranks based on the career choices of individuals.

These documents Include programs created through collaborative efforts among provider agencies, community colleges, teacher education and other professional preparation programs. They were done to facilitate career advancement as well as models developed by local school districts to increase the productivity of paraeducator employees. They are also representative of educational opportunities to prepare paraeducators to work in different disciplines and program areas. Finally, they provide examples of training models that are being used to meet the needs of paraeducators who live and work in urban, rural and suburban areas across the country.

These monographs were developed through the recourses of two grants from the Division of Personnel Preparation, Office of Special Education Programs of the United States department of Education. The first is a project of national significance (H029K970088-98) Teacher and Paraeducator Teams: Strategies for Building Them. The second is another project of national significance (H029K0136) A Core Curriculum & Training Program to Prepare Paraeducators to Work with Learners who have Limited English Proficiency. The content in these monographs does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Department and no official endorsement should be inferred. The editor of these articles was Andrew Humm.

A Paraeducator Training Program and Mentoring System

Arlene Barresi, Training Coordinator and James Fogarty, Executive Director of Instructional Services,Board of Cooperative Services - Eastern Suffolk County, New York.

The Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES), located on the eastern end of Long Island in New York State, has launched a comprehensive inservice program for training the district's paraeducators.

BOCES provides a wide range of services to children and youth from birth to 21 years of age who have diverse developmental levels and learning styles and require individualized and compensatory education services. Many of the education and related services for school-age students who have disabilities or other special needs are designed to provide a transitional bridge from BOCES-based programs to general education classrooms near a student's home. Among the direct services provided by BOCES are home- and center-based education and support services to infants, young children, and their families. BOCES also offers opportunities for junior and senior high school students with challenging behaviors and learning or other disabilities to gain academic, vocational, and social skills that will enable them to return to their home district or to live and work in their community.In addition, BOCES administers learning centers for students who have drug or alcohol dependency or are at risk because of chronic health problems.We also provide specialized technical and occupational training for teenagers and adults to prepare them to (re)enter the workforce.Training for careers as automotive technicians, child care workers, computer technicians, medical and laboratory assistants and, in other fields is available through this program.

To provide these services, BOCES uses a differentiated staffing arrangement. Members of instructional teams include teachers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech language pathologists, vocational specialists, and paraeducators.Indeed the 730-plus paraeducators employed by BOCES are integral members of the team who work alongside their professional colleagues and participate in all phases of the educational process.

Developed jointly with the local affiliate of the New York State United Teachers, the BOCES training program is a flexible system that may be used to train paraeducators working in general, special, compensatory, and early childhood education.

In addition to the training, there are several other components that have contributed to the success of the program, including:

  • the recruitment and training of paraeducators and teachers to serve as mentors and trainers;
  • workshops to prepare teachers to supervise and work effectively with paraeducators;
  • regular briefings about the goals of the training for principals and other district personnel;
  • orientation seminars for substitutes and new paraeducators.

The following sections describe the procedures that we used to develop the curriculum and plan the model.

The Model

Planning, implementing, and maintaining a viable staff development program for paraeducators is not an easy task. We believe that personnel at all levels must be committed and actively engaged in the process.It is the administration that sets policy, establishes the guidelines for

managing the program, and provides fiscal support.Trainers and mentors develop and carry out the program.Principals and teachers provide opportunities for paraeducators to practice and master skills learned in the training.

During the developmental phase for the BOCES paraeducator training program, administrators and representatives of the paraeducators identified several issues that needed to be addressed. First, we needed to make sure that we were fully aware of the diverse tasks that paraeducators perform in varied learning environments.Second, we needed to know what skills paraeducators require to perform these tasks. Third, we needed to develop a process that would enable us to provide ongoing training of the highest quality using cost-effective strategies.Fourth, we needed to gain the support of district personnel and building staff, including principals, teachers, and paraeducators.

Defining Training Needs

The methods that we used to define current roles and duties of paraeducators included spending time in classrooms and other education settings observing and interviewing paraeducators and teachers.In addition, we obtained lists of duties from other districts across the country and compared them with what is happening in BOCES.Based on our findings, we developed a set of skills required for all paraeducators employed by the district.

Once we determined the skills needed by the BOCES paraeducators, we began a search to find appropriate training models and instructional materials.It was easier to find resource materials to meet our needs than to find training models that had been tested, had achieved longevity, and could be readily integrated into our personnel development system.

Developing thet System

After reviewing several instructional programs, we selected a series developed by the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals in Education and Related Services (NRCP). These competency based materials are designed to prepare paraeducators to work in inclusive classrooms and transitional/vocational programs for children and youth with disabilities. They have also proven to be easily adapted to train paraeducators working in Title 1 other compensatory and general education programs.

There were two primary concerns that confronted BOCES administrators and paraeducators as we began to develop a paraeducator training system.The first was to meet the needs of both new employees and experienced paraeducators that have, in some cases, worked for the district for as long as thirty years. The second was to develop a viable process for maintaining ongoing and structured opportunities for training.

Meeting the Needs of New and Experienced Teachers

To address this issue, we established two goals. They were to develop a training program that would: 1) recognize the similarities in the duties of all paraeducators working with students of different ages in a broad range of programs, and 2) prepare more experienced paraeducators to take on duties that are continuing to evolve and become more complex and demanding.

During the start-up phase of the training, we decided that because systematic training had not been previously available, all paraeducators would benefit from participating in three core courses that include: 1) Roles and Duties of Paraeducators; 2) Legal and Ethical Responsibilities of Paraeducators; and 3) Communication and Problem Solving.All of these courses are part of the NRCP curriculum. In addition, the NRCP curriculum offered us a framework and resources for preparing paraeducators to use effective instructional techniques and behavior management strategies developed by teachers, observe and document data about student performance and to report the results to teachers, understand principles of human development, and respect the diversity in cultural heritages, values, and lifestyles among students.

Because paraeducators require additional (specialized) skills in order to work in different programs that serve children and youth who have different learning needs, levels of ability, healthcare and physical needs, we also incorporated opportunities for building-specific training.

Providing Structured Ongoing Training

In order to meet our second challenge, we had to look beyond content and address the process.After exploring many approaches, we decided to develop and implement a Paraeducator Mentor Trainer Program that would allow us to: 1) orient new paraeducators and substitutes; 2) conduct program and building specific training for more experienced paraeducators; and 3) establish and maintain an ongoing paraeducator training program.

Skilled and experienced paraeducators are the key to ensuring that structured/systematic training and support for new paraeducators are available.They are mentors for paraeducators in their building and they welcome substitute paraeducators to their building.They also participate in the delivery of the core courses to their colleagues. In the BOCES training model, the paraeducator mentors/trainers:

  • Provide guidance to new paraeducators about general performance expectations, information about district and building policies, and emergency procedures;
  • Provide new and current paraeducators with a common core of knowledge and skills;
  • Select topics and coordinate the delivery of training responsive to unique program/building requirements;
  • Orient substitutes; and
  • Brief principals, and other BOCES personnel about the goals and content of the training program.

Selecting and Training Mentors

Paraeducator mentors/trainers are selected using the following criteria.They are:

  • Demonstrate a commitment to improving the performance and enhancing the status of paraeducators in the delivery of services to students and their parents.
  • Demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively with professional colleagues, paraeducators, students, and other people with whom they come in contact on the job.
  • Demonstrate a willingness to learn new skills in order to provide and facilitate training for the paraeducator workforce.

As the training model evolved, we identified two new issues that required our attention. The first was the need to add more courses to the core curriculum for all paraeducators.And the second was to develop inservice workshops to prepare teachers to direct and work more effectively with paraeducators. (The development of training for teachers was based on the requests we received from teachers.)

To expand the paraeducator curriculum and to provide training to teachers, we decided to add teachers to the training staff.Now teachers and paraeducators work together to develop workshops for members of the BOCES instructional teams.

Similar criteria are used to select teacher trainers.

Paraeducator and teacher trainers receive ongoing training provided by the program coordinator and a consultant. They are provided release time from their day-to-day responsibilities in the classroom to attend the training seminars and conduct the core courses for paraeducators, teachers, and substitutes. The paraeducators and teachers participate in 2 two-day training sessions annually and meet with the training coordinator periodically.Depending on the number of new paraeducators and teachers entering the system each year or the need to train substitutes, individual trainers conduct an average of three or four training sessions annually.These sessions require approximately two hours depending on the content being covered and the skill levels of the participants.

The procedures used to prepare the trainers are designed to provide them with the skills that they need to carry out their instructional and mentoring responsibilities. The training utilizes methods that recognize adult learning preferences and styles.

Specifically, paraeducator and mentors/trainers learn to:

  • Develop lesson plans using the NRCP core curricula.
  • Identify materials and equipment required to conduct a workshop.
  • Use effective communication skills.
  • Deliver training that builds on the life and work experiences of the trainees.
  • Revise sessions based on feedback from participants in the workshops, the program consultant, and other trainers.
  • Schedule building-and/or program-specific workshops.
  • Understand and interpret BOCES policies that affect paraeducator and teacher roles and team performance.
  • Identify and articulate paraeducator and teacher needs.
  • Cope with day-to-day problems.

The trainers learn and practice using role plays, case studies, small group discussions, brainstorming activities, and problem-solving strategies.They are also provided with opportunities to review audio-visual and other resource materials they will use during various workshops.In addition, they identify their own learning styles and assess their individual strengths as effective communicators.

Once again we turned to the NRCP curriculum for paraeducators.In addition to the core courses described above, we have added the following workshops: 1) Human Growth and Development; 2) Instructional Techniques; 3) Behavior Management; 4) Observing Behavior and Recording Data; and 5) Appreciating Diversity.

We also selected instructional materials developed by the NRC for Paraprofessionals for the teacher training. Some of the topics addressed in the modules are identical to the core training for paraeducators.They include: Distinctions in the Roles and Responsibilities of Teachers and Paraeducators, Communication, and Problem Solving. In addition, teachers learn to plan paraeducator assignments, direct and monitor the performance of paraeducators, and provide on-the-job coaching of paraeducators in order to help them master the skills learned during their inservice training.

Training Procedures

Most of the core courses and program-specific training are provided at the building level. It is, however, sometimes more efficient to provide various workshops at the district level.Attendance is limited to no more than 25 to ensure that the district-level workshops enable trainers to use a wide range of instructional methods that meet the needs of adult learners. The time needed to present the core courses is approximately ten (10) clock hours.We have reached the point where we are able to provide training to paraeducators and teachers during their first year of employment. In subsequent years, they attend sessions on human development, instructional techniques, behavior management, observing behavior and recording data, appreciating diversity, and more and teachers participate in more in-depth courses to enhance their supervisory skills. The district provides these training sessions during the school day and employs substitutes for the teachers and paraeducators.

Program-specific training topics for paraeducators may include but are not limited to: assistive technology, using adaptive equipment, positioning, turning and transferring children and youth with physical disabilities, working with learners with challenging behavior, and health, safety and emergency procedures. These training sessions are conducted by occupational and physical therapists and/or nurses with skills in the content area or, when appropriate, the paraeducator and the teacher-training teams.

Training Paraeducator Substitutes

The paraeducator mentors in the individual buildings in collaboration with teachers and principals have developed a handbook for substitutes that contains information about building policies and procedures, schedules, and guidelines for working with the students in the program.The mentors are also available to orient and assist substitutes new to their building or program.

In addition, substitutes who are interested are offered an opportunity to attend a more formal training session that includes a brief overview of the skill-building information presented in the core courses for paraeducators.These workshops are delivered by the paraeducator and teacher trainers.

Enlisting The Support Of Principals And Teachers

The development of the BOCES paraeducator staff development model was based on the concept that a successful inservice program could not take place in a vacuum.Establishing and maintaining a standardized, systematic training program requires the commitment of many players.Policymakers and administrators at the district level, principals, and teachers must: 1) be aware of the contributions that paraeducators make to the delivery of individualized education for children and youth; 2) recognize the need to enhance the on-the-job performance of paraeducators; and 3) work together to create an environment that accepts paraeducators as integral members of the instructional team.

Sharing information with the different audiences about the goals of the training program, the instructional activities, and the content is an ongoing process.Policymakers and administrative staff at the district and building levels are kept up to date about the training in several ways including: 1) reports during regularly scheduled district wide meetings from the Executive Director of Instructional Services for BOCES; 2) district and union publications; and 3) periodic briefings provided by the training coordinator and paraeducator mentors in specific programs and buildings.

Managing The System

The day-to-day management of all components of the project is the responsibility of the Training Coordinator. The Coordinator, who is a paraeducator, spends about 1/3 of her time on work connected with administering the program.She, too, receives release time from her classroom duties to carry out these responsibilities. To emphasize its importance and enable us to forge a strong program, we decided that the Coordinator would report to the Executive Director of Instructional Services, who ensures that the training and other activities are based on the district's philosophy of service delivery, staffing patterns, and other personnel practices.The Director also sets the guidelines for managing the program and delegates tasks to the Coordinator.

Evaluating The System

Evaluation activities are designed to assess the quality of the training and to provide us with information that we need to revise and strengthen the model.The evaluation activities include participant surveys and structured opportunities for feedback from the trainers/mentors about the effectiveness of the training and issues that need to be resolved in order to ensure that the quality and integrity of the model is maintained. Mentors also periodically submit written reports about training sessions held in their buildings.This enables us to maintain a database about the training the paraeducators receive through the various components of the training.

The Director of Instructional Services, the Training Coordinator and a program consultant review the results of the evaluations and determine how to improve the program and to make it more relevant to the needs of the paraeducators and teachers in the diverse programs administered by BOCES.


Perhaps reactions from paraeducators who have participated in the training provide the best insight into the value of the program and why it has been so universally accepted by all members of the BOCES staff.A few comments taken from training evaluation forms and feedback sessions with the paraeducator trainers/mentors are presented here.

"I'm not just an aide anymore. I'm a paraeducator who is an important member of the team. "

"Participating in the trainer/mentor program has given me my own identity in addition to being someone's spouse or mother."

"I appreciate what my teacher does much, much more!"

"The training is enabling me to bring a new dimension to my work.It forces me to think about what I do, why it needs to be done, and how I do it."

"As a trainer/mentor, I've seen the self-esteem of the other paraeducators grow."

"The training has given me an understanding of the wider world, what teachers really do, and what paraeducators contribute beyond the classroom and building."

"Being paraeducator trainer/mentors and doing the training has given us so much confidence in ourselves."

"I wish I could have had this training years ago.It has helped me recognize the impact I have on the kids."

"We make a difference."

If you have questions or want more information about the BOCES model write:

Arlene Barresi
Training Coordinator
40 Pine Street,
Seldon, NY 11784.

Career Pathways in Idaho for Paratherapists

Thomas M. Longhurst, College of Health Professions, Idaho State University, Pocatello and Boise, 1997

Paraprofessionals make up about 20 percent of the early intervention and education workforce (Hebbeler, 1994). Striffler (1993) and Longhurst (1997) provide an overview of current trends in the utilization of paraprofessionals in early intervention and preschool services. The focus of this chapter will be on physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology and particularly those individuals that work in partnership with or alongside of professional level therapists as aides or assistants, which will be called paratherapists (Longhurst & Witmer, 1994).

The Idaho Board of Vocational Education (1994 a, b, c, d, e, f; 1993) has developed Technical Committee Reports and Curriculum Guides that include appropriate performance standards, work setting task lists (competencies), duty areas, enabling objectives, practica suggestions, scope of practice statements, and supervision standards for physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology aides and assistants.

It is hoped that the information contained in these curriculum guides and in this chapter will be useful to educators in high school vocational-education programs, community colleges, vocational-technical schools, colleges and universities, as well as those involved with planning health occupation programs. The information is also provided as an aid to early intervention or special education administrators in program planning and implementation that involves aides and assistants in therapy services. This information should become even more relevant as the current shortages of therapists and paratherapists in early intervention, education and rehabilitation settings become even greater in the future (Hebbeler, 1994; Job Trends 2005, 1994).

There should be significant cause for concern for the future of therapy services in early intervention and the schools. With salaries in rehabilitation settings often twice those in schools and significantly better benefit packages, more and more therapists are focusing on rehabilitation in their training and signing on with rehabilitation hospitals or private practices after graduation.

The special focus of this chapter will be on an attempt to (1) clarify the differences between aides and assistants, (2) present the need and demand for paratherapists, (3) review appropriate pre-service training, subsequent on-the-job training, and structured career advancement training that provides career pathways for paratherapists in Idaho, and (4) present an efficient and effective model for the implementation of therapy services utilizing an intradisciplinary team approach, for example SLP Aide, R-SLPA, CCC-SLP. As the demand for more and better trained paratherapists increases, production of current high school and community college programs can be expanded and new programs created to graduate more and better-trained paratherapists for an expanding job market.

Striffler (1993) has provided an excellent overview of current trends in the utilization of paraprofessionals in early intervention and preschool services. Longhurst (1997) has provided an overview of team roles in therapy services.

Occupational therapists (OT) and physical therapists (PT) have for many decades utilized paraprofessionals, both at the aide and assistant levels, to make their therapy more productive and efficient. The profession of speech-language pathology (SLP) has studied the issue repeatedly over the last three decades (ASHA, 1970; ASHA, 1981; ASHA, 1995) with paraprofessional use increasing but without fully recognized educational standards or practice controls.

There has been minimal consistency in occupational titles. Bachelor level speech-language pathologists are called aides in Texas and persons with only a high school diploma called assistants in California.Ê No national guidelines have existed and there are essentially no training programs, accreditation of training programs, nor national credentialing available for paratherapists in speech-language pathology. All that is changing with the official endorsement of the use and credentialing of associate degree (or bachelorâs degree) speech-language pathology assistants by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

The question now is not if the speech-language pathology profession will accept the use of assistants, but how community college programs can best train these paratherapists. ASHA will register speech-language pathology assistants (R-SLPAs) and approve the educational programs in which they are trained. The Council for Exceptional Children (1997), along with a consortium of educational organizations, including ASHA, have a set of guidelines that differ somewhat from ASHA's and are specifically directed to service delivery in early intervention and education settings.

Generally speaking, ASHA-CCC speech-language pathologists will be required by ethical code to supervise only ASHA-credentialed R-SLPAs. That is, in the future (there will be a 1998-2001 grace period), speech-language pathologists with the CCC could not supervise any assistants who are not R-SLPAs. ASHA does limit the number of R-SLPAs supervised by one CCC-speech-language pathologist to three FTEâs while the Consortium Report is silent on this issue. To supervise more would likely be an ASHA code violation if the supervisor holds ASHA-CCC.

The Consortium Guidelines (CEC Consortium Report, 1997) leave credentialing at three levels (I, Aide; II, Assistant; III, Associate) to the state (licensing boards or state education agencies). The supervisor need not have the ASHA-CCC, but would generally be expected to have a masterâs degree in speech-language pathology. With regard to supervision, the Consortium Guidelines require, as a minimum, direct supervision of the first 10 hours of therapy after training and then 10 percent of all sessions, to include at least one in every ten consecutive sessions. ASHAâs supervision requirements are more stringent. The ASHA Guidelines specify that supervision of R-SLPAs consist of a minimum of 30 percent for the first 90 days of service (20 percent must be direct, on-site); and 20 percent after 90 days (10 percent direct). Both the ASHA and Consortium Guidelines specify the scope of responsibilities or scope of practice of assistants and they detail the exclusive responsibilities of the supervisor.

Aide vs Assistant Distinction

Appropriate assignment of paratherapist roles is addressed in state practice acts, licensure and certification regulations, as well as scope of practice statements of professional organizations such as the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

Aide is a paratherapist title typically given to individuals with a low level of training and a very limited scope of practice. The aide is typically a non-licensed, non-certified employee who works under the direct supervision of the professional therapist. The aide carries out designated or specifically assigned routine tasks. These typically include transporting patients/students; maintaining, cleaning, and assembling materials, devices, and equipment; performing clerical duties, and working with patients/students in a very closely monitored and supervised therapy environment. On-site supervision by the therapist is typically recommended for best practice.Ê Typically, the aide is required to have a high school diploma or GED, be at least eighteen years old, and have completed some aide training in high school, a post-secondary educational facility, or on the job in a school, clinic, or hospital setting. Aides are often hourly employees with slightly above minimum wage pay and few fringe benefits. Some states recognize additional training or experience through pay grades or levels (I, II, III) within the aide category.

Assistant is a paratherapist title given to individuals with an associate degree from an accredited program in physical therapy or occupational therapy. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) (1988) or the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) (1991) accredit such programs. There are only a few associate degree programs in speech-language pathology and currently there are no national program approval procedures for speech-language pathology assistants (SLPA), but one will be implemented soon (Longhurst, 1997). The Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) and Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) are typically certified and in most states a licensed employee. Some states certify or license SLPAs, however, ASHA is the nationally recognized credentialing organization. ASHA will provide registration for SLPAs (Paul-Brown, 1995). Assistants work under direct or indirect supervision of the therapist and continuous, on-site supervision is not required, although this may vary from state to state. Their scope of practice is significantly expanded from that of the aide. ÊTheir education, expertise, and clinical training allow them to focus their efforts on patient/student treatment. While they typically donât diagnose, develop or even change treatment programs, they work somewhat independently in carrying out treatment programs planned by the professional therapist. Salaries are typically about 50-75% that of an employed professional therapist and fringe benefits are typically much better than the aide and relatively comparable to that of the professional therapist.

Current and Future Needs

For all professions requiring at least a bachelors degree, therapists are well represented in the ten fastest growing professions. Physical therapists are listed third, with occupational therapists, sixth, and speech-language pathologists, eighth (Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Quarterly, 1994). It is expected that these professions will show an 88 percent, 60 percent, and 48 percent growth rate respectively by the year 2005 (Job Trends 2005, 1994). U.S. schools of allied health are gearing up to meet current and future needs (Blayney & Selker, 1992).

Actually, the demand for paratherapists exceeds, and will continue to outstrip the need for therapists. For occupations requiring some post-secondary education, physical therapy aides and assistants are ranked first with a projected 93 percent growth and occupational therapy aides and certified occupational therapy assistants (COTAs) are ranked third with a growth rate of 78 percent (Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Quarterly, 1994). The use of speech-language pathology aides and assistants is not as well developed as in physical therapy and occupational therapy and employment statistics are not readily available. It is expected that demand in the future for speech-language pathology aides and assistants may be as great as in occupational therapy and physical therapy.

Several factors are driving this tremendous demand for therapists and paratherapists. Federal policy has had a significant impact over the past three decades (Hanft, 1991), particularly with implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which was reauthorized in 1997. Advanced medical science is saving more extremely low-birth-weight babies and those with significant birth defects. Early intervention programs are successfully involved in identifying infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with mild to severe disabilities who then move into school programs. Many of these children need the services of therapists and paratherapists (Yoder & Coleman, 1990).

The health care industry's use of therapy rehabilitation services, especially for adults, is growing at a very fast pace (McFarlane, 1992) and will continue to do so because of the demographics of the aging population (Spencer, 1989). This growth in rehabilitation services draws many therapists, especially in speech-language pathology, away from employment in early intervention and the schools. Although the nature of health care and educational reform is uncertain, essentially all proposed plans bode well for significantly increased utilization of paratherapists in both settings. It is likely that the early intervention and education will benefit most from increased production of paratherapists.

The need for paratherapists in rural communities is particularly great (Center for Disability Policy and Research, 1995). In general, these communities have low population density and are separated by distance and geographic barriers from metropolitan areas with their larger hospitals. Few professional-level therapists locate in rural communities. Expanded education in community colleges, which are much more likely to be in rural communities, could supply more paratherapists for employment there.

There is also an increasing recognition of a need to reduce the barriers that prevent students in rural areas, members of minority groups, displaced homemakers, the disabled, school drop-outs, alternative school students, and the impoverished from entering career pathways that may lead first to a paratherapist job and eventually professional therapist status. It is no secret that the therapy professions have been remarkably unsuccessful in attracting, recruiting, and educating members of underrepresented groups into their ranks and few therapists are multi-lingual (Campbell, 1994; Campbell & Taylor, 1992; ASHA Committee on the Status of Racial Minorities, 1991; Holmes, 1987).

The cost and rigor of university education, the lack of articulation agreements among institutions of higher education, high admission criteria, limited program seats, and the length and cost of university, professional school programs have been major barriers to persons from underrepresented groups entering the therapist workforce. Most OT and PT schools now charge very high program fees (often $5,000-$10,000 per year) over and above tuition. Post-secondary vocational/technical schools and community colleges have an exemplary record of reducing these barriers and providing program access. The use of paratherapists who are more likely to be from underrepresented groups would provide a cultural and linguistic link to the community served.

It is also apparent that professional therapist training programs have been minimally successful in providing the family-focused (Jeppson & Thomas, 1995 Bailey et. al., 1990), multidisciplinary, or transdisciplinary training (Rooney, Gallagher & Fullagar, 1993) that is typically acknowledged as best practice in early intervention, education, and rehabilitation. Opportunities for a strong family focus and especially for cross training (or, as it is sometimes called, multi-skilling) are much more feasible in post-secondary vocational/technical schools and community colleges at the aide or assistant levels than in universities at the professional therapist level. Many competencies at the aide and assistant level are comparable and cross-training or multiskilling should be the goal of any paratherapist training program (Pew Health Professions Commission, 1995).

Many of these barriers will remain or be exacerbated in the future, so a well-defined career pathway for paratherapists, with opportunities for cross-training and career advancement through well-articulated programs, takes on increasing social, economic, and best-practice importance.

We clearly need to train more professionals, decrease attrition, and distribute professionals more equitably (rural vs. urban, schools vs. hospitals). However, it is also clear, as Hebbeler (1994, p. 28) so appropriately, stated, that ã[o]f all of the possible responses to the problem of personnel shortages, restructuring how programs are staffed (utilizing paraprofessionals) may hold the most promise.ä

Career Pathways

Many post-secondary, vocational/technical school, and community college certificate or degree programs are viewed as tickets to the job market. Vocational educators are fond of calling their programs ãhireä education.

Their focus is often on providing well-qualified technical or support staff to schools, business, and industry.

This is especially true for the rapidly expanding allied health occupations field. Only rarely are they viewed as entry ways to the healthcare professions.

There are clear distinctions between a health care job and a healthcare career and between health occupations and health professions. While preparation for a job is good, career education should be planned and executed to provide access to career advancement through paratherapist levels into the therapy professions, if the student has the financial resources, intellectual capacity, and motivation. Barriers for advancement should be removed and opportunities made readily available.

Career pathways for paratherapists in Idaho (see Appendix A) provide school guidance counselors, educators, parents, and students with an innovative way to look at preparing for the post-secondary transition to the workforce and the need for further education in a vocational/technical school or community college.

Within the paratherapist career pathway, students initially choose health occupations as a career major. The health occupations major includes high school coursework that prepares Idaho students to (1) enter directly into the workforce as a Developmental Disabilities Aide (DD), OT, PT, or SLP aide upon graduation; (2) continue education in a vocational/technical school or community college focused on technical preparation as an OT, PT, or SLP assistant; or (3) eventually pursue advanced baccalaureate or graduate study at a university to enter the professional therapist ranks. Every student in the health occupations major follows an educational plan for their major. Early in the high school years, students should receive competent counseling so that they can choose a career pathway and develop an appropriate educational plan. With this early career guidance, parents and students can make better-informed decisions about the studentsâ high school and post-secondary education and choose relevant courses and related volunteer and part-time work experiences to improve their practical skills.

Through an integration of academic and vocational programs, career pathways help Idaho educators design appropriate curricula. Vocational, academic, and clinical competencies are required in health occupations. For example, students need the academic competencies contained in psychology, human anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, and physics courses as well as applied vocational competencies contained in courses in keyboarding and computers, medical records, medical terminology, and emergency and safety procedures.

Career pathways help to integrate the academic curriculum with the vocational curriculum and, in turn, with clinical practicum by requiring high school educators not only to be proficient in their own discipline (psychology, biology, chemistry, physics), but possess collaborative competencies across disciplines to better meet studentsâ needs. A paratherapist career pathway provides high school educators in Idaho with a framework for developing and coordinating an integrated health occupations curriculum. The material being taught in one course, such as biology, is reinforced in vocational coursework (e.g., in instruction in universal precautions for infectious disease control) and this material in turn is then applied clinically in proper work-surface cleaning, hand washing, and latex glove use.

A health occupations major helps students, parents, educators, and guidance counselors clarify the relationship between education and the world of work. Whether the goal is pursuing a graduate degree, four-year degree, associate degree, short-term secondary training, on-the-job training or a high school diploma, students need to follow a career pathway to be most efficient and effective in acquisition of competencies.

Career pathways help both the university preparatory student and the vocational education student make relevant course selections in high school. Both students would choose the health occupations major. One may focus on courses in university preparatory mathematics, human anatomy and physiology, chemistry, and physics, while the second might focus on applied mathematics, applied biology, applied chemistry, and applied physics. Both would complete coursework in applied technology in health occupations (keyboarding and computers, medical records, medical terminology, and emergency and safety procedures) as well as appropriate workplace experiences.

Health occupations (and professions) require clinical practicum and work experience before one is considered fully prepared. Initial work-based learning activities should be exploratory such as clinical observations, job shadowing, short-term work experiences after school or in the summer, and community volunteer service. As the student progresses in the career pathway, experiences might include more concentrated clinical practicum, clerkships, and internships.

When these clinical activities are incorporated into the curriculum within the career pathway, they complement classroom training by providing related practical experience in the world of work. These experiences answer the question in the studentâs mind, ãWhy should I learn this?ä

Rush (1996) suggests that successful work-based learning experiences should include:

  • careful planning of what students will learn and how they will learn it;
  • competent clinical supervision, job coaching, and mentoring;
  • evaluation and documentation of learning;
  • opportunities at school and at work for thoughtful reflection on what has happened and what it means;
  • multiple connections between school-based and work-based learning;
  • work experiences related to the classes in the career pathway;
  • school credit granted for work-based learning;
  • parents knowledgeable about both school and work; and
  • work-sites free of bias and stereotyping.

The students' academic transcript documents coursework that has been successfully completed. A portfolio of certificates of training documenting program completion and records documenting work-based experience (volunteer experiences, part-time work, clerkships, internships) are maintained by the student and guidance counselor. Just as official transcripts are transferable among higher education institutions, experience portfolios are transferable in Idaho. If competencies have already been met, there is no reason to meet them again (except re-certification as is required in CPR training).

Idaho High Schools

Through a career pathway, high school students graduate with one or more aide certificates in hand so that they can enter the job market immediately after graduation. The paratherapist career pathway should begin in the sophomore/junior years of high school or even earlier.

The intent is not for students at this point to decide on a specific occupation or profession, but to select an initial career pathway into which they can begin to direct their learning energies. Identifying a career pathway early can help students in selecting courses, school activities, volunteer and service activities, and even part-time employment.

There is some early preparation in life sciences and applied biology and then in general human anatomy and physiology. Keyboarding and computer skills are essential. Some background in applied chemistry, physics, and mathematics, as well as sociology/psychology is helpful. Typically a sophomore year class in Exploring Careers in Health Services is provided (McCutcheon, 1993). In the junior year, a full-year course in Health Occupations is completed (Simmers, 1993).

The senior year starts in the first half-year with a program in Developmental Disabilities Aide (DD Aide) training (Idaho Board of Vocational Education, 1993) with a certificate awarded upon completion.

In the second half of the senior year, students may elect to complete one or two aide programs with the most popular being PT Aide or, if time is available in the studentsâ schedule, the combined OT Aide and PT Aide program. A number of students have elected to complete classes required for high school graduation in the early morning, after school, or in the summer so that they can participate in aide training during the regular school schedule.

Two important national movements in vocational-technical education support high school career pathways for paratherapists. These are the School-to-Work movement (Perry, 1994; American Vocational Association, 1994) and the Tech Prep initiative (American Association of Community Colleges, 1994; Hull & Parnell, 1991). The School-to-Work program provides a practical system of integrating the high school classroom with real world experiences through schools and health care, community and work place partnerships. In this work-based learning program, the high school student participates in education at the work site that is closely connected to the high school curriculum. The immediate goal for students is aide training completion certificates that lead to a job in the chosen field upon high school graduation.

Idaho health care facilities, state agencies, and school district employers benefit from the School-to-Workprogram through lower training costs, an opportunity to shape the high school curriculum, and a larger and better skilled employee pool from which to hire. Because the students are working in the agencies, employers have an opportunity to see the quality of the studentsâ work before hiring full-time. The Tech Prep initiative, while similar to School-to-Work, has as its goal preparation in the high school curriculum for entry into a post-secondary vocational/technical school or community college associate degree program such as physical therapy assistant (PTA), certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA), or speech-language pathology assistant (SLPA). Completion certificates earned in high school as a DD Aide, PT Aide, OT Aide, or SLP Aide provide part-time employment opportunities while the student is pursuing an associate degree.

Idaho Post-secondary, Short-term Training

While the most efficient approach to training new employees at the aide level is through high school programs, access to training opportunities and entrance into a paratherapist career pathway also need to be provided at the post-secondary level. Post-secondary, short-term training is necessary for the 60 percent of high school students who pursued a general track in high school and neither obtained a marketable skill through high school vocational education nor successfully completed a college preparatory course of study.

The paratherapist career pathway can be entered through post-secondary, short-term training after high school graduation, sometimes many years later. For example, short-term training is made available in a highly accessible schedule through six regional, vocational-technical schools in Idaho. Students typically complete the DD Aide training of about 60 clock hours of instruction and then go on to one or more aide (PT Aide, OT Aide, SLP Aide) training programs, each about 60 contact hours in length. Each includes a supervised clinical component and mentored transition to the work place. Each training package is competency based and provides a completion certificate documenting that competencies have been demonstrated.

Idaho Vocational-Technical School/Community College Training

About 30 states have developed programs for training PTAs and COTAs, but there are currently only a few training SLPAs. Again, the APTA or AOTA accredit such programs to document at least minimal quality while ASHA is planning to approve SLPA programs.

Idaho State University, within its community college role, has completed initial curriculum planning and is proposing initiation of one of the first associate degrees in Speech-Language Pathology Assistanting. This curriculum development was planned to coincide with ASHA initiating program approval of training programs and registering of SLPAs (Paul-Brown, 1995), over the next few years.

The ISU course sequence for training SLPAs is shown in Appendix B. Most of the first year is used to fulfill general education requirements for an Associate of Science Degree. These courses are comparable to a typical freshman year and all courses can be utilized in the future for a Bachelor of Science in Speech Pathology and Audiology degree, if the student continues in the career pathway. The second year is focused on coursework in speech-language pathology assisting with a final spring-summer term consisting of closely supervised clinical practicum and associated applied seminars. ASHA requires two different, six-week placements totaling at least 70 clock hours supervised 50 percent of the time by a supervisor with the ASHA CCC in SLP.

University Baccalaureate/Graduate Education

A number of states have bachelorâs degree programs that lead to full certification/licensure in OT and pre-PT. There is a trend toward moving professional-level education in OT/PT to the graduate level. COTAs or PTAs should have the option of moving up the career pathway into upper division coursework after the associate degree to either complete a bachelorâs degree in OT or PT or to complete a preprofessional, or pre- OT or PT degree in majors such as biology, psychology, or special education. Usually admission requirements to most OT or PT programs are high and seats in programs are limited. Work experience as a COTA/PTA often provides some preference to applicants, but high GPA in specific prerequisite coursework, high Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, and excellent recommendations are required. Tuition is very expensive, frequently requiring additional and significantly higher professional school or program fees.

Baccalaureate degrees in speech-language pathology are readily available in most states but they have been viewed as pre-professional degrees for the last two decades that do not lead to work in SLP. A masterâs degree has been viewed as the minimum practice requirement by ASHA. Most states recognize the masterâs degree as the minimum for state licensure/certification and to meet the qualified provider provision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

There are still a number of persons with bachelorâs degrees in the schools nationwide, but often they are working in some other position classification. With some minimal retraining, these persons could become R-SLPAs.

There are a number of baccalaureate in SLP graduates each year who for one reason or another do not go on to graduate school. Again, these persons, with some minimal retraining÷primarily the fieldwork experience÷would make excellent R-SLPAs, significantly expanding the SLP workforce available to the burgeoning service needs of infants, toddlers, school children, adults, and the elderly.


Utilization of paratherapists should be viewed positively. Certainly, those that choose not to supervise paratherapists should not be forced to do so. However, those that choose to qualify themselves and devote the time and energy to supervise paratherapists should be provided appropriate supervision time and resources (CEC, Consortium Report, 1997). When the Dallas (TX) Independent School District hired speech-language pathology assistants in 1994, the SLPs that agreed to supervise SLPAs received a pay raise.

Then they received a 25 percent reduction in their caseloads to allow for that supervision (Moving forward on support personnel, 1995). That is a good example for other school districts nationwide.

With appropriate utilization of paratherapists, service deliverers can provide more services to more persons with disabilities at a more reasonable cost. Paratherapists can increase the current, typical frequency of one or two sessions per week to five-days-a-week intervention that automatically increases the possibility of improving outcomes and clearly may reduce the overall duration of therapy needed. If paratherapists can be used as extenders of services provided by therapists, the whole service delivery system can move forward a giant step with minimal, if any, erosion of quality of service, and at great cost savings. While some therapists fear paratherapists will cost them their jobs, their real fear should be that they will lose their jobs to healthcare and education reform if they donât provide intervention more relevant to the educational needs of students and become more cost effective. Clinical efficacy is an increasing concern in our cost-conscious and outcomes-based world. The appropriate training and use of paratherapists is the future of therapy services in early intervention and the schools.


American Association of Community Colleges (1994). The Tech Prep associate degree challenge. Washington, DC, Association of Community Colleges.

American Occupational Therapy Association (1991). Essentials and guidelines for an accredited program for the occupational therapy assistant. Rockville, MD:

American Occupational Therapy Association.

American Occupational Therapy Association (1987). Guidelines for occupational therapy services in school systems. Rockville, MD: American Occupational Therapy Association.

American Physical Therapy Association (1988). Accreditation candidacy program of the commission on accreditation in physical therapy education. Alexandria, VA:

American Physical Therapy Association.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Committee on the status of racial minorities. (1991) Multicultural action agenda 2000. Rockville, MD: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

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American Vocational Association.

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Shortages in professions working with young children with disabilities and their families. Chapel Hill, NC: National Early Childhood Technical Assistance System.

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Help Wanted: Blacks in Allied Health Professions. Black Issues in Higher Education, 4:19, 18.

Hull, D. & Parnell, D. (1991). Tech Prep Associate Degree: A win/win experience. Waco, TX, Center for Occupational Research and Development.

Idaho Interagency Coordinating Council (1992). Position Statement on paraprofessional training and utilization. Boise, ID: Idaho Interagency Coordinating Council.

Jeppson, E.S. & Thomas J. (1995) Essential Allies: Families as Advisors. Washington, DC:

Institute for Family-Centered Care.

Job Trends 2005: Interviews with economists at the Bureau of Labor Statistics on employment force costs for physical, occupational, and speech therapists. (1994, Fall).

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Longhurst, T.M. (1996a).

Career pathways for related service paratherapists in early intervention and education, Journal of Childrenâs Communication Development, 18:1, 28-30.

Longhurst, T.M. (1996b). Idahoâs three-tiered system for speech-language paratherapist training and utilization. Journal of Children's Communication Development, 18:1, 57-74.

Longhurst, T.M. Team Roles in Therapy Services, Chapter 3 in Pickett, A.L. and Gerlach, K. (Eds.) Supervising Paraeducators in School Settings: A Team Approach. Austin, TX, Pro-Ed, 1997.

Longhurst, T.M. & Witmer, D. (1994). Initiating paratherapist training in Idaho. New Directions, 15:3, 1-5.

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Exploring Health Careers, Delmar Publishers Inc., Albany, NY.

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What does the future hold? American Rehabilitation, Summer, 3-7.

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Moving forward on support personnel. (1995, February).

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Speech-language pathology assistants:

A discussion of Proposed Guidelines.

Asha, September, 39-42.

Rooney, R., Gallagher, J., & Fullagar, P. (1993). Distinctive Part H: Three case studies. Chapel Hill, NC: Carolina Policy Studies Program, frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Rush, W. (1996). Career Pathways-Idaho: Moving to a focused education. Boise, ID: The State Division of Vocational Education.

Simmers, L. (1993). Workbook for Diversified Health Occupations, Albany, NY: Delmar Publishers Inc.

Spencer, G. (1990). Projections of the population of the United States by age, sex and race: 1988 to 2080. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Department of Commerce.

Striffler, N. (1993).

Current trends in the use of paraprofessionals in early intervention and preschool services. Chapel Hill, NC: National Early Childhood Technical Assistance System.

Yoder, D. & Coleman, P. (1990). Allied health personnel: Meeting the demands of Part H, Public Law 99-457. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Author Note

I wish to acknowledge the work of Dorothy Witmer, Ed.D., former Health Occupations Supervisor, Idaho Division of Vocational Education for facilitating the development of the paratherapist Technical Committee Reports and Curriculum Guides (DD Aide, Vo. Ed. 269; PT Aide, Vo. Ed. 283; PT Assistant, Vo. Ed. 285; OT Aide Vo. Ed. 282; COTA Vo. Ed. 284; SLP Aide Vo. Ed. 293; SLP Assistant Vo. Ed. 292). These documents are available for $5.00 each from: Vocational Curriculum Dissemination Center, College of Education, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-3083, (208) 885-6556.

The thoughtful discussion and document editing of the many professional therapists and paratherapists in Idaho who made up the three (PT, OT and SLP) technical committees are also gratefully acknowledged.

Also acknowledged is the financial support from the Idaho Infant-Toddler Interagency Coordinating Council and the Idaho Infant-Toddler Program, Mary Jones, Manager, that was used to provide travel and operating expenses to the technical committee meetings as well as document preparation and printing expenses.

And finally to my long-time administrative assistant, Karen Lewis, thanks are extended for many hours of committee scheduling, preparing correspondence and drafts of the technical documents as well as preparing this chapter for publication.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to the author at:

Idaho State University
Pocatello, Idaho 83209-8116
Phone (208) 236-2204
FAX (208) 236-4602

Lives in Transition

Lynn Safarik

Coordinator of Career Advancement Training Program at California State University, Long Beach from 1989-1995.

Teresa was among the first students to enroll in the Career Advancement Training Program in the fall of 1992. A friend who knew of her interest in working with children with disabilities referred her to the California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) program. She had never been to college but had acquired some post-secondary training through the military. She had worked as a truck driver in shipping and receiving and, at the time she interviewed at CSULB, was employed as a grocery checker. Teresa, a young mother of two, was enthusiastic about beginning a new career in special education; her past volunteer experiences had sparked an interest. Despite her apprehension about going back to college, she clearly had a sense of determination.

The program advisor recommended that Teresa begin by taking the Job Coach class at one of the articulated sites, Coastline Regional Occupational Program (CROP). It was close to her home and would enable her to get some immediate hands-on experience. Teresa excelled in the classroom and in the practical component of the program where she learned how to job coach students with a wide range of disabilities in a vocational program under the supervision of a certified instructor.

Feedback from the CROP site advisor to the Career Advancement Training Program coordinator was positive. She appeared to be a natural teacher and was skilled in working with students and employers alike.

Feeling confident about her progress, Teresa contacted a friend who was employed at the Disabled Students Program and Services at Fresno College coordinating summer white water rafting trips for persons with disabilities. Teresa volunteered to go along on the next trip. This experience proved to be inspirational, further convincing her that she had found her niche. Other volunteer experiences enhanced her training; in fact, she earned extra credit hours for her job coach class by participating in the International Wheelchair Tennis Tournament.

During her first year in the program, Teresa had gained the training, experience, motivation, and confidence that she needed to begin her program at CSULB. Upon advisement from the CROP site advisor, she enrolled in the Winter Bridge Program at CSULB, a class designed to orient new transition students to the university program. Teresa was assigned a peer advocate, Margie, a student in her final year in the CSULB Undergraduate Transition Services Program. Margie was selected because she worked at Coastline ROP in the career guidance department and could help Teresa with her studies as well as with her new position at Coastline ROP. (Teresa had been hired as a part-time assistant in the Learning Handicapped Program, part of the California State Transition Partnership Program.)

Teresa continued her academic program by enrolling in an English 100 course at the community college. Concurrently, Teresa enrolled in her first university course, Introduction to Transition Services. In Fall 1993, one year after her application to the program, she was hired as a full-time job coach and instructional assistant at Coastline ROP.

Four years later, Teresa has made considerable progress in both her studies and professional development. She has only a few courses left toward completion of her bachelorâs degree. When she graduates, she will also have accumulated a wealth of experience in classroom and community settings. With the help of a network of friends and colleagues both at CSULB and Coastline ROP, she will soon reach her goal of becoming a certified special education teacher.


Teresa's story shows how a multi-agency program is well suited to address the needs of paraprofessionals who are seeking training and career advancement. Adult students must coordinate work and family responsibilities when they are planning their educational program. Often, this means that they must alternately take classes at different institutions, depending on when classes are offered and considering travel distance from home, work, and childcare facilities. Their support network includes co-workers, college advisors, friends, classmates, and family. Paraprofessionals may change jobs frequently or combine several part-time jobs. The need for employment is more than financially-based; adult students need to grow professionally as they complete their education in order to sustain a high level of motivation and to establish a career path.

A program that offers flexibility, practical training, and builds the student's support network is necessary to accommodate the complex lives of adult students. The importance of extra-institutional factors, such as community and employment-related social support, is emphasized in sociological models of college impact that are used to describe how and why students persist and attain their goals in higher education institutions (Weidman, in Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991). Drawing upon this model, the career-ladder program described in this monograph integrates training, education, work, and community experiences to facilitate the professional growth of returning adult students.

The Career Advancement Training Program for Transition Services Personnel is one of several titles used to describe a program that began in 1989 and that has undergone several permutations over the ensuing eight years. Today, the program is referred to as the Transition Services Training Program for Paraprofessionals . The name change reflects the program's increased focus on paraprofessionals. Initially, the program was designed as a certificate program for vocational instructors and other support service personnel who work in schools and adult service agencies with persons with disabilities. The need for trained transition services personnel grew out of the state and federal special education and rehabilitation services policy that emphasized employment preparation and independent-living skills training for youth and adults with disabilities.

Spearheaded by vocational/special needs faculty in the Department of Occupational Studies at California State University, Long Beach, the original program content and structure were based on local training needs research (Morehouse & Albright, 1991). Its eighteen-unit curriculum was designed to augment traditional vocational instructor coursework, but was conceived primarily as a stand-alone certificate option for school and agency-based paraprofessionals such as job coaches or employment training specialists.

The program has grown into a multi-level, multi-agency training system that includes two secondary regional occupational programs 1, four community colleges 2, and California State University, Long Beach. Recently, the program has been extended to include an outreach effort to local school districts that provides intensive, on-site training for district paraeducators who receive a certificate through University College Extension Services at CSULB 3. Over the years, multiple contingencies shaped the program; some were unanticipated; others were predictable but unavoidable. In retrospect, the program that exists today is a result of both purposeful fine-tuning and adaptation for survival.

This monograph describes the transformation of the program from an externally funded special program to an articulated, institutionalized degree program and career-ladder system which links multiple agencies. By examining the adaptive process, the successes and obstacles, and the outcomes--anticipated and unanticipated--this case may provide insights for others interested in organizational change and the innovation process. Elements of the innovation process, as summarized by Palumbo, are readily recognizable:

No single individual or group generally is responsible for getting an innovation routinized in an organization (Yin, 1979), although there generally are policy entrepreneurs, catalysts, or fixers who play large and important roles in the adoption and diffusion process (Bardach, 1980; Doig, 1981; Palumbo, Musheno, & Maynard-Moody, 1985). It usually is impossible to fix the exact date when a particular innovation began, and the innovation will be reinvented a number of times or modified to fit into the specific needs of those who will use it (Rice & Rogers, 1980). Many years usually pass for the diffusion process to unfold, and along the way a number of unanticipated consequences are likely to occur, so that the end results are likely to be quite different from those anticipated earlier in the process (Lincoln, 1985, p. 7).

These aspects of the innovation process can be roughly translated into three ideas about innovation. It is:
1) a messy, dynamic process that is largely consumer-led,
2) a collaborative endeavor, and
3) a long and bumpy ride leading to an unplanned destination. These themes are present throughout this analysis of the processes and program features that appear to have been critical to the program's viability.

Three central components of the implementation and development of the Transition Services Training Program for Paraprofessionals are the focus of this paper. They include: 1) the collaborative curriculum development approach which formed the foundation for the program, 2) the institutionalization of the university program through the establishment of a formalized degree option, and 3) the student support strategies and mechanisms that link the articulated programs to form a career-ladder system.

Of interest to higher education professionals, issues of leadership, college impact and nontraditional student development, and the relationship of policy to practice are raised in consideration of the details of the career-ladder program. For those interested in the training and career-development of paraprofessionals in education and related services, this piece may contribute to the evolving dialogue on how their unique needs may be more systematically addressed by two- and four-year institutions. Since the majority of paraprofessionals who participate in the program are women who have re-entered post-secondary education, those interested in the college experiences of women who combine work, school, and family may also find useful information here.

The Post-Facto Action Plan

Implementation research and organizational theory has shifted in focus in recent years to macro-organizational behavior (Lincoln, 1985). Macro-organizational behavior refers to the numerous horizontal relationships between participating agencies that are required for the implementation of social programs. Palumbo stresses that rationality in organizational behavior is retrospective rather than prospective. He explains why this is true:

What is crucial about the focus on macro-organizational behavior is the complexity of joint action. The large number of participants, perspectives, and decision points necessary for the completion of a program brings into stark relief the problems associated with injecting prospective rationality into organization behavior. As successful implementation in such ambiguous circumstance requires mutual adaptation among the actors involved, the only kind of rationality that seems to exist in organizations is retrospective as opposed to prospective. Retrospective rationality involves explaining events after they have occurred, whereas prospective rationality is an attempt to predict and control events before they occur. Although at times organizations attempt to be rational in the prospective sense, most often they are rational only in the retrospective sense. Hence organizational behavior is rational, but only in the sense that organizations act first, then analyze what they did, rather than the other way around (Palumbo & Nachmias, 1983). As Karl Weick (in this volume) explains, intention seldom, if ever, controls action; but because we assume that what appeared to happen did happen, we often conclude that rational models actually work when, in fact, they do not. (1985, p. 9)

This observation about the implementation process aptly describes the way the collaborators proceeded in planning and developing the Career-Ladder Program. After the initial planning session, the original action plan became less and less useful as we plowed through the multiple bureaucracies of our respective institutions. A few of the steps were salvaged, but in the end an entirely new process was delineated and it occurred to us that the step-by-step plan had little relevance to the way we actually worked. Instead, our method was more pragmatic; we worked on aspects of the project that inspired us as a group or on those items that were of pressing concern to individual members. Somewhere in the middle of the process, we constructed a plan that more accurately depicted our course of action.

The above explanation withstanding, for the collaborative team (which consisted of representatives from each of the participating regional occupational programs, community colleges, and the university) these steps describe our general direction and activities:

  1. Identify a task force.
  2. Establish an advisory board within each community college, regional occupational program and at the university.
  3. Conduct a regional survey of employment characteristics and opportunities for paraprofessionals in transition.
  4. Develop and analyze competencies for the various paraprofessional roles in transition.
  5. Conduct an external and internal review of the competencies.
  6. Organize competencies with respect to training settings.
  7. Match competencies to existing curriculum.
  8. Recommend additional courses be developed to match competencies not covered in courses currently offered.
  9. Articulate curricula among the three training settings.
  10. Set up procedures for recruiting, advising, and monitoring student progress across training levels.
  11. Document the collaborative process by creating a guidelines manual for transition service program developers.
  12. Maintain regular communications through collaborative team meetings, site visits and other professional exchanges (e.g. collaborative proposal development).

Whereas the above steps represent the guiding process for coordinating the articulation of the individual programs, in a multiple-site collaborative, each agency must operate within the structure, policies, and timetables of its own setting. Procedures for obtaining course approval and administrative support and for navigating communication channels are unique to the participating agencies. The central steps, which involved development of the curriculum and the conceptualization of the articulated programs, comprise the essence of our work together. They were as follows:

  1. Using competency review data to identify which competencies should be part of the training programs at each level.
  2. Using competency-to-course matrix to identify which competencies are part of existing courses and where new courses need to be developed.
  3. Revising existing course outlines to incorporate new competencies.
  4. Matching clusters of competencies to whole courses.
  5. Identifying a course that will serve as the articulation link between levels, e.g. the job coach class.
  6. Developing a course outline for the "linking course" for all three programs- regional occupational program (ROP), community college (CC), and university- and review for alignment with competency review data.
  7. Bringing courses through curriculum committees at all sites.
  8. Working with articulation officers at each site to establish formal articulation agreements between ROP's and CC's; and CC's and universities.
  9. Arranging for the appropriate publication of articulated courses and programs in institutional catalogs and other publications.

A Collaborative Curriculum Development Approach

Operational decisions about the collaborative planning project (e.g., identifying sites, personnel, timelines, resources) are among the many start-up phase activities. The development of a common conceptual framework, however, is an important first step if all team members are to have joint ownership of the project.

Defining the training needs is probably the most critical collaborative planning activity. This process not only serves as a way to focus the group's efforts, but also creates a forum for expressing individual concerns, personal philosophies, and creative approaches before a course of action has been set. The importance of establishing a spirit of mutual respect and a sense of shared mission cannot be overlooked in articulation work and these initial discussions of purpose and larger policy issues greatly enhanced the collaborative climate. Through this process, we all became committed to this initiative.

The process of defining training needs began with the identification of the roles, skill requirements, and employment settings of personnel providing transition services. A systematic survey of local transition services personnel roles included a review of the literature on their competencies as well as a profile study of a sample of CSULB Undergraduate Transition Services Program applicants. Several brainstorming sessions followed, resulting in the compilation of an extensive list of job titles, some widely used by transition service deliverers (job coaches, employment specialists, and others more loosely associated with transition such as guidance technicians and work experience coordinators).

This collection of job titles was organized by employment setting and professional area. Three major settings were identified as employment sites for transition services personnel: secondary, post-secondary, and adult service agencies. Within each setting, personnel worked in the fields of vocational education, special education, or vocational rehabilitation. This organizational framework provided a point of reference from which the team could identify competency requirements that were realistic in the local job market.

At this point, the development of the conceptual framework required an analysis of role hierarchies as they occurred in the field, using the framework developed by the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals in Education and Related Services. By distinguishing between paraprofessional and professional roles, the team could then begin to sort personnel roles by levels of training (or credentials, degrees) needed. Director Anna Lou Pickett's functional definition of a paraprofessional as one who works directly with students in an instructional capacity- but who ultimately works under the supervision of a certified teacher or professional (Pickett, 1989)- was adapted to include the stipulation that they not have a bachelor's degree.

The process of exploring transition-related job roles in the multiple contexts of agency and professional area (discipline) and by organizing these roles as being either paraprofessional or professional, enabled the team to develop a basis for the development of curriculum at multiple training levels.

The next step in conceptualizing the articulated programs was to clarify the nature and purpose of the training segment to be offered at each institutional level. This was be accomplished by defining the individual missions of secondary vocational education, community college vocational training, and professional development in vocational education at the university level. The team's assumption was that program articulation can best serve students who are seeking career advancement and professional growth if the participating institutions are providing training that is consistent with their mission.

For example, secondary vocational education at a regional occupational program introduces students to an occupational area by providing hands-on, specific skills training that will prepare them for entry-level employment in a specific job. At the same time, regional occupational program training in any one of a cluster of related occupational areas enables students to explore a range of career paths. Community college programs, by offering intensive training in a vocational area, prepare students for more advanced positions in a field and help the student further define his or her career path. The general education component in community college programs provides the student with the educational breadth required for transfer to a four-year university, if the students so desire.

The mission of a university program is broader still, with a more theoretical curriculum and including leadership and professional development as primary goals. The vocational training program at a university prepares students to assume professional roles in an applied field (e.g., transition services). The team studied transition services personnel roles with this perspective on institutional training purposes in mind. Accordingly, entry-level job training in transition service (e.g., job coach) is most effective at the ROPâs and CCâs; job development and instructor training is appropriate at the community college and university; and transition specialists or coordinator training is the focus of training at the university (possibly extending into graduate school).

These guidelines were helpful in ascertaining the general nature of training at each level. Clearly, there is some overlap in training purposes and curriculum objectives. However, the orientation of training varies by institutional level; training is more skills focused at the secondary program, more broad-based at the university, and somewhere in between at the community college. With these guidelines in place, specific training competencies were identified.

Research Base

The development of model curricula to be used for multi-level transition services personnel training was based on a study of regional training needs in transition services that provided the basis for the original grant proposal (Morehouse & Albright, 1991). The study surveyed 95 paraprofessionals and 47 administrators in public school and adult service agencies in the Southern California area about the relative importance of transition services training competencies. Five categories of baseline competencies were identified.

These original competencies were analyzed and revised repeatedly by the team to produce a set of competencies that would be sufficiently detailed for the purpose of developing a comprehensive curriculum. The set of 32 baseline competencies was expanded to fifty-four. The revised competencies were organized under eight headings:

A. Core Competencies
B. Assessing Transition Program Needs
C. Assessing Learner Needs
D. Planning Transition Programs for Special Needs Learners
E. Implementing Training/Instructional Components
F. Job Development and Placement
G. Job Site Training and Instruction
H. Developing Professional Skills

The rationale that guided our analysis and revisions was the need for a comprehensive career-ladder training program. The curriculum would meet the specific training needs of Job Coaches and Job Developers but would also be generic enough to allow transferable skill development. The philosophical, ethical, and legal aspects of personnel training as well as the foundations of transition services were addressed in the "Core Competencies" area. The "Developing Professional Skills" competencies were part of the university training for paraprofessionals moving into professional roles.

The competency review process was conducted in three phases: 1) a training program participant review, 2) a national expert panel review, and 3) a final validation of competency revisions by four internal and external reviewers. The instrumentation and analysis procedures are described in detail in Safarik, et al , 1994.


The collaborative team was formed through an established network of associates who had professional ties to the Project Director at the lead institution, CSULB. The community colleges and regional occupational programs invited to participate in this project were geographically and programmatically desirable; however, the primary reason for their selection was based on individual qualifications and level of commitment to the project. The start-up phase entailed several meetings with key administrators at each institution, to enlist their support, engage them in establishing long-term directions for the project, and to get their assistance with the identification of collaborative team members to represent their institutions.

The initial project planning meetings included the CSULB Project Director and Coordinator and key administrators from RSC and Mt. SAC: the Deans of Occupational Education; Coordinator of Occupational Services; Coordinator, Special Services; Chair of the Human Development Department; Director, Disabled Students Services; and Disabled Students Services Placement Specialist .

During these planning meetings with administrators, two important project directions were established÷first, that the desired outcome was to develop a model curriculum for transition services training to be used statewide; and second, to expand the articulation process to include ROPâs (East San Gabriel Valley Regional Occupational Program and Coastline Regional Occupational Program).

These two regional occupational programs were selected based on their proximity to the community colleges, their level of activity in transition services programming, and their status as recognized leaders in the state as exemplary secondary vocational education programs. Both individuals selected to participate in the project were alumni of the CSULB Graduate Program in Transition Services.

During the third project year, Coastline Community College was identified as a third community college to participate in the collaborative. Coastline, with a nationally recognized special programs division (particularly their acquired brain injury program) and with strong leadership in the disabilities field, made an important contribution to establishing the program content.

Personnel selection was driven by a pairing notion; that is, we matched ROPâs and community colleges that were compatible in terms of geographic location, history of program articulation, and personnel linkages. In this sense, two pairs were established within the team, Mt. San Antonio College and East San Gabriel Valley ROP and Coastline Community College and Coastline ROP. Rancho Santiago College, which is geographically accessible to both ROP's and which had no prior history of articulation with either, worked with both institutions. A more recent addition to the collaborative, Cypress College is tied closely to our recently developed paraeducator training program at the ABC school district in Cerritos, CA.

The details offered through this explanation of site and personnel selection might seem overstated. Utilizing an existing professional network to mount the collaborative made our work more productive, more enjoyable, and helped to sustain the project over the long haul. The educational backgrounds, areas of professional expertise and position within the organizational structure varied among team members; this diversity enhanced the project, as we drew upon the differing strengths, interests, and resources of individuals who worked from different perspectives. Team members had backgrounds in vocational education, special education, and human development, and had experience in working with at-risk youth, developmentally disabled adults, children with learning disabilities, and persons with acquired brain injuries. Some were among the pioneers in the supported employment field; others had strengths in program administration.

We approached the collaborative project through a shared leadership strategy. This occurred naturally as individual team members participated at differing levels throughout the years when professional and personal commitments impinged on their ability to contribute. Our collaborative shared births, divorces, job changes, and other life changes as we nurtured the program over the years. Several of the team members have moved on to new professional challenges since we started in 1989. New members have joined the group and the original members have planted seeds from the collaborative in their new organizations. Although the project is always about individuals- and they come and go- the collaborative never seems to lose members. Instead the network expands as members move around.

We did find, however, that the position of team members within their organizations determined the degree of efficiency with which we were able to get the programs up and running at the individual sites. The team members who were trainers, had direct control over curricular decisions, and had direct contact with students were most successful in establishing the linkages with other agencies.

At the community college, implementation was easier for those team members who were part of an academic unit than it was, for example, for one team member who worked in the disabled student services program as a placement specialist. This person had to establish credibility with faculty who were unfamiliar with the field of transition services and gain the support of the appropriate academic department before proceeding with course approval procedures. Even though this team member was very experienced and well known for her work with disabled students and state rehabilitation programs, it was difficult for her to gain access to the formal curriculum processes without a faculty advocate. In contrast, for those community college team members who were already a part of the decision-making loop, course approval and articulation was a routine procedure.

At the university, which was the coordinating institution, the support of department faculty and personnel from administrative units was critical. Because two senior faculty played an active role in project administration in the early phase of program development, bureaucratic obstacles were minimized. For instance, a cooperative relationship between the Department of Occupational Studies (in which the program was situated) and the Admissions and Records unit on campus helped smooth the admissions process for paraprofessionals who were classified as adult re-entry students. This special status, typical for the majority of vocational instructors who enrolled in the department for a Designated Subjects Teaching Credential, allowed students to temporarily delay standard admissions requirements such as placement tests and grade-point average criteria. As non-matriculated students were able to complete all of some of their teaching classes after having only completed an abbreviated application and admission process. Later, they had the option of "rolling over" to the degree program, but this process was made simpler since they were now considered transfer students, had established a record of academic success, and felt more confident as university students.

Transition students who do not enter with sufficient units to qualify as a transfer student (56 units) are able to benefit from the same admissions policy for re-entry students. This is an important factor in supporting the non-traditional student; otherwise, the admissions and records bureaucracy can become so cumbersome for a re-entry or at-risk student that it prevents students from taking the important first-step in getting back to school. Because CSULB is a large, state university, the support and cooperation of admissions and records personnel can make or break a student's chances of being successful. Fortunately, the records evaluation and admissions process is made more manageable for students and faculty in the undergraduate transition services training program through a student-centered philosophy on both ends.

Ultimately, the success of an innovative program within a traditional academic department depends to a great extent on the support of departmental leadership. When leadership or vision changes within a department, an externally funded program÷particularly when a non-tenure track or junior faculty member administers it÷is quite vulnerable. The high level of commitment required of the program coordinator in order to sustain a multi-agency program cannot be maintained without full support. When a department is not willing to consistently invest in the effort and commit to its full inclusion in the department, hard-won linkages are apt to break down. Given this reality, the critical element is to ensure program institutionalization in as many ways as possible before losing fiscal support. The institutionalization process is discussed further in a later section of this monograph. The need for faculty support from the academic department withstanding, the resiliency of the collaborative is a question of values and commitment.

Resources And Incentives For Collaborative Planning

The resources for the collaborative curriculum development project came from three successive federal grants. The first two, which were three- and five-year awards respectively, included moneys for the participating sites. The first, awarded in July 1989, devoted a total of $3,000 to be used by participating community college sites. Originally, funds were distributed equally between Rancho Santiago and Mt. San Antonio Colleges. During the second project year, when it expanded to include two regional occupational programs, these funds were subdivided to include the two additional sites. During the third year of the original training grant, funds budgeted for the articulation sites were phased out. Later, a second federal training grant provided additional resources for participating sites. A sum of $6,000 was allocated for five Site Advisors (collaborative team members). Each one outlined a site section plan yearly to demonstrate how funds would be used to carry out the project goals.

The amount and use of funds by each site varied year by year depending on the level and purpose of site activity. For instance, when two site advisors presented the project at a national conference, they were provided extra funds to cover travel and presentation preparation expenses. In another case, a site advisor at a community college used project money to pay for the cost of course instruction for the first offering.

Apparently , incentives for participating in the collaborative had little to do with the stipends provided by grants over the years. A relatively small amount of money (between $500 and $1,000 per year per team member for five years) was paid to each participating institution. In some cases, this amount was paid to the team member for the specific services identified through a contractual agreement with CSULB. Other agencies opted to absorb this money into their general fund. Although the stipend was primarily intended for establishing a solid relationship with the institutions, CSULB recommended (in collaboration with the site representative) guidelines for its use, consultant fees, and student scholarships. The team members, some of whom never received the stipend money, seemed to be motivated more by the importance of the career ladder concept. Early in the collaborative the group conceded that our work would not depend on funding, but instead viewed the project as a long-term process with the ultimate goal being institutionalization within and across our sites.

The collaborative project was sustained by our collective value of outcomes beyond program articulation . Instead of limiting our purpose to signing articulation agreements, we intended to create a flexible, coordinated system of support, training, and career advancement for paraprofessionals. The most important outcome of the project has been to establish a network of professionals whose service, creativity, and commitment was not bound to their own institution, but which transcended institutions to support paraprofessionals in transition services and related areas.

There are many incidental benefits of the collaborative approach to building a career-ladder training system. It becomes a way of regularly and systematically sharing information about employment opportunities for paraprofessionals, a method for improving and updating training content, and an opportunity to keep informed about policy and professional development events at the state, local, and national levels and as a mechanism for obtaining external funding to enhance organizational directions (e.g. to increase the number of paraeducators of color in the career ladder program).

As a result, the collaborative has created professional growth opportunities for both the team members and students. Over the years, each of the team members has presented the project at state and national conferences. Seven students have made national presentations of their work through the program.Two of the team members are now adjunct faculty at CSULB and two others have collaborated on related grant-funded projects.

When we first started the project, there were few program models to draw upon. Over the years, it has been gratifying to share our progress and observe the increasing interest in the paraprofessional career development movement. Project spin-offs, such as work with local school districts in developing training and career-ladders for their paraprofessional staff-as well as participation in research conducted by the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals in Education and Related Services- are additional outcomes of the collaborative.

Most importantly, the collaborative allows us to keep track of and support students more effectively and over a greater length of time than we are able to individually. Through our network, we keep each other informed about student progress. The collaborative has made long-term mentoring possible for the students who may take five years or longer to move through the various levels of the career-ladder program. Adult students often drop in and out when circumstances arise that interrupt their training program. Sometimes a student will take a leave to take advantage of a job opportunity or to take care of his or her family. The flexibility of the multiple-site program allows for this pattern of adult education. Most students keep in touch with advisors whether or not they are enrolled in classes, even when they have relocated to another region or state.


The process of moving the innovation from an externally funded certificate program to an institutionalized, multi-agency training system was shaped, constrained, and facilitated by many bureaucratic structures, events, and observations. The change process, which did not conform to our neatly laid plans, often seemed erratic and stagnated. On one hand, getting the program off the ground required that we fit the new program into existing degree structures. This entailed highly individualized program advisement; each student's background and training needs were assessed on an case-by-case basis and course substitutions were utilized extensively to get students through. This pragmatic approach appeared to be working during the first year or two. In the sense that it assured the acceptance of the innovation among the other faculty members, it was appropriate and functional. However, this labor-intensive process soon became unmanageable and inefficient. Often, it seemed that the program would not survive. Through this interactive process of trial and error and adaptation, however, the program evolved to a more formal structure.

It became evident that a separate degree option for transition services students was needed. In retrospect, it appears that this development was guided by a rational implementation plan. There were actually several factors that provided the impetus for establishing a new bachelor's degree option in transition services in addition to the impracticability of fitting the training program into existing÷but incompatible÷degree programs: a growing and increasingly diverse group of students interested in a transition services training, the continued passage of federal and state legislation requiring trained transition services personnel, and a growing empirical basis for training competencies in transition services (Safarik, Prather, Hanson, Guzman, Ryan & Schwan, 1991; DeFur & Taymans, 1995). In short, the student/consumer's needs- driven by national, state, and local policy and agency needs÷forced the program changes. As their needs interacted with institution-specific contingencies, dysfunctional structures slowly broke down and were replaced by more functional ones. The following chain of events illustrates how the program evolved at the university level.

The Csulb Program

The original program, the Undergraduate Transition Services Training Program at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) was designed to be an eighteen-unit certificate program within the bachelor's degree program in the Department of Occupational Studies. The six-course sequence comprised three phases: Phase I, Introduction to Transition Services; Phase II, four courses individually selected from among the Occupational Studies and Educational Psychology offerings; and Phase III, a Practicum. Only two of these courses, Phase I and Phase II, had to be developed. It was not necessary to go beyond departmental review to obtain approval for these courses since existing seminar and generic practicum course numbers were used to run the courses. These six courses were based on nationally researched competencies (Safarik et al, 1991). Students selected Phase II courses based on an assessment of their prior coursework and experience. After several offerings, the Phase I course, Introduction to Transition Services, was refined and subsequently approved by the university through formal curriculum review and approval processes as a regular course offering in the Department of Occupational Studies.

Because the CSULB program was funded by external funds for the first four years, personnel were supported through the grant. A full-time coordinator (non-tenure track) was hired and two senior faculty served as Project Director and Associate Project Director. The grant provided tuition assistance for twenty students per year, part-time clerical support, and stipend money for the community colleges to participate in the articulation aspect of the project.

Project staff worked to fit the certificate program into the existing bachelor's degree program options. Students were advised to select the best degree option out of three: the Bachelor's of Vocational Education (BVE), Bachelor's of Science (BS), or Bachelor's of Arts (BA), Interdisciplinary Major. Depending on their level of experience and specific career interest, students worked with an advisor to match the transition program requirements with the appropriate degree program.

When the program began, it was expected that recruits would come mainly from the pool of vocational teachers who typically enrolled in the Department of Occupational Studies credential and bachelor's degree programs. During the first semester of program operation, approximately one-third of enrolled students were, in fact, vocational teachers who had an interest in working with students with special needs. This pattern changed over the years and soon the transition student pool consisted of only a few vocational teachers. Instead, we were drawing in large numbers of paraprofessionals from public schools and adult service agencies. Five years later, more than 90% of the student population were paraprofessionals working in special and vocational education and adult services. The shift in the student population required a major restructuring of the program design. The Bachelor's of Vocational education degree, specifically designed for vocational teachers, became less appropriate for many transition services students since they did not meet the intensive occupational experience requirement for that degree.4 Two strategies were implemented in response: 1) the BVE degree program requirements were modified at the State and institutional levels and 2) a new degree program was developed.

When the transition services program began, the vocational instructors who enrolled were able to use their prior vocational experience to qualify for the BVE degree program.

It was not unusual for students to have fifteen to twenty years of experience in an occupational area and five or more years of teaching experience. As previously mentioned, the transition student profile began to change as the program became more widely known and soon students who were less experienced in a trade area, but more experienced in working with special populations were enrolling in the program. The Associate Director, who was also a member of the State Board of Vocational Examiners, was instrumental in adapting the Swan Bill (see note) process to accommodate the experience and background of paraprofessionals who worked with persons with disabilities.

This new breed of Swan Bill applicants often came to the university program with twenty years of experience as well; however, their experience was not in one trade area but comprised a range of occupational roles. Also, their teaching experience was non-traditional; often they taught pre-employment, independent-living skills, or supervised community-based training in a variety of entry-level jobs. In other cases, they were coordinating special programs in addition to their teaching responsibilities and their "teaching" included on-going contact with employers, community agencies, and families of persons with disabilities. In short, the students coming into the transition program were already performing the role of the transition specialist, although they had no formal training. The State Board of Examiners recognized the critical role of these paraprofessionals in delivering services and providing employment training for persons with disabilities and was cooperative in modifying the application process to include these non-traditional "vocational" educators.

As a result, many paraprofessionals coming through the program during the first several years were granted "Swan Bill" units (in some cases, the maximum 40 units). This degree option was extremely attractive to mature students who had extensive experience in the field but who needed the degree to advance professionally. Later, as younger, less experienced students entered the program, the BVE, even as revised, was not always the appropriate degree option. At first, students who did not meet the criteria for the BVE were advised to plan a BA program with an interdisciplinary major or "Special Major" program as it is known. A popular combination of majors for transition students was occupational studies and educational psychology. This more traditional degree allowed the student to complete a forty-unit major comprising courses from both departments. This interdisciplinary BA program is a university-wide program and was directed by a university-appointed advisor. Although the entrance requirements for this degree program are complex, several students per year opted for this degree.

Another option for students who did not meet the BVE requirements was the BS degree in vocational education. Designed originally as a program for industrial trainers, the BS degree was not suitable for transition students. After several attempts to make multiple course substitutions that essentially revamped the entire BS degree, program staff acknowledged the need to formally establish a degree option designed specifically for transition services students.

The new degree program content and structure were based on several concurrent and intersecting developments÷ample feedback from internal review and evaluation measures, results of a national study of transition services training competency needs, external funding from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and faculty recognition within the Department of Occupational Studies that major revision of the BS degree was long overdue.

As the program evolved, and the transition services competencies were developed and validated, the program content was revised substantially. A new course, Techniques of Job Coaching (OCST 260), was developed and approved and two others÷Performance-based Assessment in the Classroom and Community and Techniques of Job Development÷were offered as experimental courses. These courses are expected to be institutionalized as of this publication. With subsequent funding, and as a result of continued internal and external program review, we began work to institutionalize a separate transition services option within the Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Studies. This degree option underwent formal approval processes and was approved in 1996.

Along with the adoption of new coursework and the establishment of a separate degree option in the BS program for transition services program undergraduates, we endeavored to integrate the transition competencies across selected department of occupational studies courses. Specifically, key themes such as multiculturalism, collaboration among agencies , and self-determination were identified as areas that need to be addressed within our vocational education courses for all (including non-transition services) students. Ideally, the integration process will be extended to other department from which transition students take coursework, i.e. social work, home economics, educational psychology.


While program articulation was being completed at all of the participating sites, other project outgrowths developed. Three years after the inception of the collaborative curriculum development effort in 1991, CSULB mounted a new grant-funded training program as an extension of the original undergraduate transition services training program. The Career Advancement Training (CAT) Program was established to focus on training people of color in transition services and to support their progress towards full special education certification. The CAT program was developed in response to the critical shortage of special educators in the state, with a special emphasis on increasing the numbers of special educators of color.

Several recruitment and retention strategies were devised to accomplish the project goal of training nine students of color per year for five years through the CSULB Transition Services Training Program. The purpose of these strategies were to provide the necessary support, individualized program planning, and advisement to facilitate their progress toward full special education certification. These strategies include tuition support and a stipend for two years, a peer advocate support system, a winter and summer bridge program, and articulation with the post-baccalaureate special education credential program. A key program feature was to utilize and build upon the existing network of articulated training programs as a way to enhance recruitment and retention of students of color at various points in their education and careers.

Creating Training Site Hubs

The original collaborative team members were identified in the new CAT program as Site Advisors, who are responsible for identifying outstanding students of color interested in becoming special education teachers and referring them to the next educational level when appropriate. Since the Site Advisors were positioned differently at their institutions, their roles as Site Advisors varied accordingly. For example, at the ROPâs, both Site Advisors were Job Coach class instructors. Thus, their direct involvement with students was naturally suited for a mentoring relationship. These Site Advisors work closely with selected students and ensure their access to the articulated programs. Also, both team members are active statewide in transition and recruited students into the program through their professional affiliations.

The role of the three community college Site Advisors varied according to their position at the college. The Disabled Student Placement Specialist at Mt. San Antonio College works with disabled students seeking services at the college who may or may not be interested in transition related careers. Prior to the establishment of the transition program, she was not involved in academic programming and had limited access to students across campus. However, as an active member of several state programs serving the disabled, her network enabled her to recruit individuals from outside of the college and inform them of the various options available through the CAT program. As Site Advisor, her contact with Disabled Student Services staff and other student support personnel enabled her to recruit, advise, and refer students to the CAT program.

The Department Chair of the Human Development Department at Rancho Santiago College served primarily in an administrative role. As an administrator, her role as Site Advisor involved promoting the program to her department and in facilitating the formal curriculum approval and articulation processes. The Special Programs and Services Coordinator for the Disabled served as the Coastline Community College Site Advisor. She was involved directly with student interns whom she referred to the CAT program when appropriate. As the initial instructor of the articulated job coach class and supervisor of other related instructional programs, she was able to advise and refer students in her role as Site Advisor.

The career-ladder approach to training enables paraprofessionals to make progress toward their professional and education goals in an efficient and rewarding manner. Job opportunities, professional conferences, workshops, and intern positions are examples of the types of experiences available to students through their contacts with the Site Advisors. Early and accurate advisement about general education, transfer and credential requirements, and admissions and registration procedures are ways that Site Advisors can support students over the long haul.

The primary role of the Site Advisor is to serve as a contact person, a friendly face that students can feel comfortable talking to about career plans, professional opportunities, and difficulties that they are experiencing at school and/or work. Having a friend at a large institution can make all the difference for students facing the bureaucratic complexities of transferring and program planning. Often the Site Advisors' role is to refer students to other staff or faculty at the college for academic advising or registration information. The Site Advisors provided the critical human link between the six institutions.

Site Advisor Manuals were provided to assist the Site Advisors with program requirements and referral guidelines. It is a fluid document, in that its contents are being constantly revised as new program information is disseminated from each of the sites. Course outlines, admissions requirements, and program benefits and services are among the items included in the manual. It is updated during monthly project meetings. Each Site Advisor creates a yearly Site Action Plan that outlines recruiting approaches, i.e. linkages with EOP Office, Students Services, related departments, community affiliations, retention strategies, and program development ideas. Essentially, these tools enabled the collaborative team members to establish procedures within their present roles to communicate the career-ladder options for students and to expand and refine their transition programs.

Creating Linkages For Student Retention

The network of articulated training programs provided a natural support system for students interested in career advancement. However, as the team pursued the career-ladder concept, it became clear that some inter-agency operational processes needed to be worked out. A systematic program planning and assessment process for students was viewed as being an essential component. The team agreed that the set of training competencies used to create the articulated curriculum could be adapted as an assessment and planning tool and subsequently created the Career Portfolio for this purpose.

The Career Portfolio uses the competencies as a way for students to conduct a self-assessment of their skills before, during, and upon completion of their total program. Using the portfolio approach, students can also document evidence of attainment of specific competencies. Items such as job experience descriptions and workshops attended, as well as specific courses and academic projects can be used to illustrate skill development or proficiency. By reviewing the Career Portfolio with students, Site Advisors can assist with program planning and career advisement. Later, the Career Portfolio can be used to present an in-depth description of skills and accomplishments to employers. The career portfolio is a powerful communication tool for students but also assists the Site Advisors in assessing the skill level of students entering their program from the other articulated sites. The Site Advisors can then individualize the students' programs to avoid duplication of coursework and to provide extra skill enhancement where needed.

Although the CAT program is structured in three program levels, i.e. regional occupational program, community college, and university, in reality, students rarely follow that chronological pattern of training. Students may take a course at the ROP after having completed their general education or associate's degree at a community college and then decide to come to the university. It is not uncommon for university students to concurrently attend the community college to complete their general education and university transition courses on a part-time basis. A set of referral guidelines was established for the site advisors.

These are shown below in Table 1.

Table 1 Referral Guidelines
Student Background Referral
AA degree, experience and demonstrated commitment to pursuing transition/special education career CSULB
Some college coursework, demonstrated English proficiency, several years of experience in the field and commitment to pursuing transition/special education career CSULB or Community College
No prior college coursework, entry-level experience in field, i.e. job coach or job coach training. Community College /ROP
No prior college coursework, no specific transition experience, interest in education, human services career. ROP

To encourage students who are potential candidates for the CAT program, but who are not ready for admission in to the CSULB program, a Conditional Acceptance procedure was developed. To be eligible, students must be recommended by a Site Advisor, be interviewed by the CSULB Program Coordinator, and make a formal application to the program. The conditional acceptance assures students of placement into the tuition reimbursed program after they have completed the program entry requirements (at least one year of related job experience and one year of college coursework including demonstrated written English proficiency). With the conditional acceptance, students are also eligible to enroll in the Summer or Winter Bridge Program.

The Bridge Program, a 1-unit course offered through Extension Services, is an orientation to Careers in Special Education and Transition Services and is restricted to new CAT students. Program content includes a program orientation, initial work on the Career Portfolio, guest speakers, readings about current developments in the field, self-awareness instruction, an orientation to campus resources, and an orientation by the Special Education Credential Coordinator. The Bridge Program is an opportunity for CAT students to get to know each other, project personnel, and the campus. All accepted and conditionally accepted students, including high school seniors, are eligible to attend.

Articulation With Special Education (Graduate) Program

Because the CAT program is specifically aimed at recruiting students who are pursuing special education certification, the program is articulated with the graduate program in special education. These students are able to take up to three, lower-division classes as part of their bachelor's degree program that will also apply to their post-bachelor's certification program. The special education credential program coordinator introduces the program, as well as career opportunities in special education during the Bridge program. As students near graduation they are advised to schedule a meeting with the special education credential coordinator to plan the next stage of their program.

Since the CAT program began, several changes in the state special education credential regulations have facilitated the career advancement of paraprofessionals who wish to become certified. Effective January 1992, the state no longer requires a basic teaching (multiple subjects or designated subject) credential as a prerequisite for the special education certification. Those who wish to teach special education may move directly into the special education credential program upon completion of their bachelor's degree. Students who have completed their bachelor's degree in vocational education with a transition services specialization will have an opportunity to waive or substitute coursework based on an individualized assessment. These revisions to the special education credential program will take approximately two years to implement. During the interim period, CAT graduates may progress toward the credential under "experimental program" status.

In concert with the changes occurring in special education certification, the California Commission on Teaching Credentials enacted legislation in October 1993 that enables vocational educators to substitute the vocational designated subjects credential for the basic teaching credential if they wish to become certified to teach special education. Whereas the basic teaching credential is no longer required under the aforementioned revision, this new law facilitates career-ladder progress during the interim phase of program restructuring. Both of these changes are in direct response to the critical shortage of special educators and should greatly enhance the career mobility of paraprofessionals in the CAT Program.

Providing Support For Students

Several support strategies have been developed to enhance the retention of students who are participating in the CAT program. First, students of color received tuition reimbursement for two years of full-time study (up to $3,150). A stipend of $1,000 is awarded to students in four payments of $250 at the completion of each successful semester to be used for books, transportation, or other related educational expenses. Student performance is evaluated each semester to determine eligibility for continued funding. Program evaluation data have indicated that this financial assistance is critical for the CAT students, many of whom are single parents and supporting families on modest incomes.

Because the typical CAT student is a re-entry adult who is unfamiliar and perhaps intimidated by a large university, a Peer Advocate Program was developed to assist students with acclimatization to campus life.New students are paired up with students at advanced stages or program graduates on the basis of career interests, backgrounds, and (sometimes) personality. Entering students often express anxiety and insecurity about their ability to perform and function at the university. Individual counseling and frequent contact with an advisor was mentioned as an important feature of the CAT program in the program evaluation. The Peer Advocate Program, which links students with a more confident peer, allows for more individualized attention for incoming students.

The peer advocates are recommended by faculty on the basis of their academic and professional accomplishments, as well as their interpersonal skills. The selected individuals are invited to an orientation session during which the role and responsibilities of the peer advocate are discussed.

Peer advocates must commit to working with students for one year. They are required to develop a contract with the student to clarify expectations and areas in need of help. They also develop a schedule of visits and/or phone contacts. Recommendations from the literature include three critical features of successful mentoring programs: frequency of contact, clarity of purpose, and opportunities for reflection on the process. Both advocates and students are encouraged to report on their experiences through surveys, interviews, logs, and informal feedback to the program coordinator. Examples of specific activities that advocates and students have been engaged in have included attending conferences together, help with academics (writing and exam preparation), and visits to job sites. Occasionally, an inappropriate match occurs and students will be reassigned to work with a new advocate. Peer advocates are paid a stipend of $200 and recognized at an annual awards ceremony.

Students are encouraged to avail themselves of the wide array of services and resources that exist campus-wide. The Learning Assistance Center, Disabled Student Services, Career Counseling Center, and financial aide are some of the services that students are referred to for extra help. A compilation of campus services is available in the Department Office and includes many cultural and special interest group organizations. Through the network of articulated programs, the site advisors share information about services and internship opportunities for students in the multi-agency program.

Directions For The Future

Now that the various degrees program options for transition services have been established at the university, we have begun to focus our work in several directions. First, the highly successful paraeducator certificate training program at the ABC district has increasingly drawn state and national attention. We have now expanded the program into another two districts (Bellflower and San Juan Capistrano) and are presently negotiating with two more school districts for a Spring 1999 start-up date. Second, while this certificate program has been very responsive to basic training needs, graduating paraeducators are telling us that an additional next-step course is needed to help them move into other appropriate training programs on the career ladder (e.g., community college degree programs and university degree programs). Hence, we have initiated discussions with ABC personnel and the Director at the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals in Education and Related Services to consider a sequel to our present offering. At this point, such a course looks like it will contain a very concentrated focus on individual advisement and career transitioning.

Our third direction is to continue to foster the collaborative teamwork we have done over the past decade. However, rather than promoting university sponsored program development, we are now very interested in helping our collaborative institutions with important program initiatives in transition services. For example, within the collaborative we recently met to consider submitting a joint proposal to the Fund for Improvement of Post-secondary Education in the U.S. Department of Education. We fully anticipate that one of our community colleges will be the lead agencies, with the remaining members of our collaborative being contributors to the proposed initiative which could well be focused on the paraeducator career need noted in the preceding paragraph. This direction is viewed as essential if we are to maintain our progress on building institutional capacity within and across the collaborative institutions and remain responsive to the career needs of our diverse group of consumers.


Recounting the development of this program has provided a clear example of Palumbo's use of the term "retrospective rationality" for describing the process of organizational change. While there was always a plan and rationale for the implementation and institutionalization of the career ladder program for paraeducators, the goals and vision guiding that plan were altered significantly over time. As we worked to put our program in place, real student needs and structural obstacles continually shaped our decisions and strategies.

The model for change became an on-going process of negotiating what we wanted to do and what was possible to do, given the usual constraints of time, resources, and bureaucracies. Over the seven years that elapsed during the program's development, changes in credential policy, federal and state legislation, personnel, and labor markets were some of the forces that both disrupted and fueled our efforts.

We started out with the goal of developing a model of articulated training programs for paraeducators at the secondary and post-secondary levels (two-year and four-year colleges). What we have accomplished instead, is the institutionalization of a bachelor's degree program for paraeducators in transition services at California State University, Long Beach and an articulated outreach program with three school districts. We learned that the most effective way to recruit participants and to meet local training needs was to develop partnerships with local school districts that employ paraeducators. We learned that by bringing our training program to the source of training need (rather than an educational institution, such as a community college), we were more likely to garner support for and interest in the program.

Collaboration was and continues to be the most critical part of the change process. In working with school districts, collaboration with district administrators, union representatives, paraeducators, and teachers was essential in building a program that would work. On the university end, we enlisted the support of University College and Extension Services to design a program that would link nonacademic and academic training. We drew from our pool of program participants to provide training--one paraeducator from the ABC School District who recently graduated with her bachelor's degree is presently the student advisor at the University. Another graduate of the program has gone on to pursue a master's degree and has co-taught the paraeducator certificate program. Plans to co-sponsor a statewide conference with the California School Employees Association in Spring 1999 and the award of a three-year grant from the Department of Education to develop the partnerships with the participation districts and to expand the program continue the collaborative effort. On-going collaboration with the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals in Education and Related Services has kept the goals of the program in line with national standards in policy and practice.


DeFur, S. H. & Taymans, J. M. (1995). Competencies needed for transition specialists in vocational rehabilitation, vocational education and special education, Exceptional Children, 62(1), 38-51.

Morehouse, J. & Al bright, L. (1991). Training trends needs of paraprofessionals in transition serves delivery agencies, Teacher Education and Special Education, 14 (4), 248-256.

Palumbo, D. J. (1985). Forward: Future directions for research in policy studies. In Organizational Theory and Inquiry: The Paradigm Revolution. Yvonna s. Lincoln (Editor). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Pickett, A. L. (1989). Restructuring the schools: The Role of Paraprofessionals. Washington, D.C. Center for Policy Research, National Governor's Association.

Pascarella, E. T. & Terenzini, P. T. (1991). How College Affects Students. San Francisco:


Safarik, L., Prather, M., Hanson, G., Guzman, G., Ryan, C., & Schwan, D. (1991). A career-ladder program for transition services personnel: A collaborative curriculum development approach. Unpublished manuscript, Department of Occupational Studies, California State University, Long Beach.

Lynn Safarik can be contacted at (562) 431-5716 or via e-mail at

1 East San Gabriel Valley Regional Occupational Program, (West Covina, CA); and Coastline Regional Occupational Program (Costa Mesa, CA).

2 Mt. San Antonio College (Walnut, CA); Rancho Santiago College (Santa Ana, CA); and Coastline Community College (Costa Mesa, CA), Cypress College (Cypress, CA).

3 ABC Unified School District, Cerritios, CA, Bellflower Unified School District, Lakewood, CA and San Juan Capistrano Unified School District, San Juan Capistrano, CA.

4 The Bachelor's of Vocational Education (BVE) degree program is a non-traditional in that many students may obtain academic credit for work and teaching experience. The process for completing this degree requires application to the State Board of Examiners for Vocational Teachers (California State Department of Education). Based on the Swan Bill, state legislation passed in 1943, vocational educators who have a least seven years experience in an occupational field plus 1,620 hours of full-time teaching (or 1,000 hours part-time teaching) and are state credentialed vocational instructors can qualify for the degree.This degree recognizes the prior educational, technical, instructional, and professional experience of the adult student. The application process is highly structured; students compile a portfolio in which the State Board evaluates hours, years, and months of experience both quantitatively and qualitatively two times a year. Students receiving the BVE are required to complete the state- and university-mandated general education requirements as well as departmentally established vocational education requirements for the 124-unit degree.Students may be granted up to 40 units through the Swan Bill process. However, many adult students enter their program with a significant number of transfer units from other institutions and Swan Bill units are often satisfying the students elective unit requirements.

Paraprofessional Certification Program

Wanda Cook-Robinson
Assistant Superintendent, Oakland Schools, Waterford, Michigan

Introduction: Why Certification?

The specifics may vary from state to state, but the central arguments in favor of paraeducator certification are the same no matter where you work. In testimony before the Maryland General Assembly, Baltimore Teachers Union paraeducator representatives outlined the benefits of certification:

  • A carefully constructed certification program would give formal recognition to the importance of the work of paraeducators. It would establish a permanent place for them as valued members of the education team.
  • By setting standards and mandating specified training and experience, certification would guarantee higher level of quality in the services that paraeducators provide.
  • A good certification program would offer paraeducators real opportunities for upward mobility. With easy access to advanced training, paraeducators who worked hard and made the grade could move forward in their careers. This, in turn, would make it a more attractive and long-term career, helping to draw more qualified people to the ranks.
  • Certification would provide a clearer definition of the differentiated skills that are associated with different jobs and higher levels of responsibility and would enable districts to connect training to jobs. In many school districts, the duties of paraeducators vary widely. In some situations, they are expected to do things for which they are neither qualified nor paid; in others, their talents are underutilized.

Oakland Public School Paraeducator Certification Program

The use of paraeducators in pre-primary (ages 2 ½5) through 12th grade is increasing, leading to a multifaceted role for the paraeducator. To meet the changing demands for the paraeducator, the Student Performance Team of the Oakland Schools has developed a structured training program that leads to paraeducator certification.

The voluntary, interactive, and performance-based program requires the paraeducator who provides direct services to students to complete the following for certification:

  • 15 hours of structured training sessions in the following areas:
    • The Role of the Paraeducator in the Classroom
    • Communication Skills
    • Classroom Management Techniques
    • Populations, Pathogens, Procedures, and Precautions (PPPP)
    • Student Populations
    • Strategies of Instructions; and
  • 105 hours of one-the-job skill and knowledge application.

The roles and responsibilities of those involved in the certification program are:

  • Paraeducator
    • Attend the six structured training sessions
    • Demonstrate skill and knowledge competency for each structured session
    • Participate in evaluation discussions with supervising teacher or building administrator
  • Supervising Teacher
    • Coach the paraeducator in competency areas of each structured session
    • Observe the paraeducator in on-the-job demonstration of competencies for each session
    • Participate in evaluation discussions with the paraeducator
  • Building Administrator
    • Meet with paraeducator and supervising teacher to verify completion of the certification process
  • Oakland Schools Student Performance Team
    • Designs, presents, and supports structured training sessions
    • Verifies paraeducator participation in sessions (by stamping Worktext)
    • Prepares and forwards a Completion Certificate to paraeducator (when a Xerox copy of page 21 from their Worktext has been signed by a building administrator and forwarded to the Oakland Schools).

Features of the Paraeducator Certification Program

  • This program is voluntary.
  • Its structured training sessions are designed to provide basic skills to support students in the classroom.
  • The Role of the Paraeducator in the Classroom is the cornerstone of the program and must be attended before attending other sessions.
  • Participants will receive the program 3-ring binder and Worktext when they attend The Role of the Paraeducator in the Classroom.
  • After attending The Role of the Paraeducator in the Classroom , the five remaining sessions may be attended in any order desired (based on space availability).
  • Only structured training sessions that are designed and developed by Oakland Schools and endorsed by our Board of Education are part of the certification process.
  • Student Expectation is divided into age-appropriate sessions, elementary and secondary. Attendees are required to attend one of these sessions, but may attend others if they wish.
  • In addition to these sessions, each paraeducator must attend sessions on Strategies of Instruction, Communication Skills, Classroom Management, and a Population, Pathogens, Procedures, and Precautions (PPPP).
  • The time schedule for sessions (4:30-7:00 PM) was selected after surveying paraeducators on their best times to attend.
  • Oakland Schools is responsible for all record keeping of session attendance.
  • Participants must bring their Worktext to each structured session and have it stamped by an Oakland Schools staff member after completion of the session.
  • Classroom skill and knowledge competency for each structured session may not take place prior to session attendance.
  • Worktext pages must be initialed by a teacher and/or building supervisor after classroom skill and knowledge demonstration.
  • After completion of the six structured training sessions and classroom skill and knowledge demonstration, the paraeducator must meet with the building administrator and teacher to have the ãCertification Application Verification Formä signed.
  • A copy of the signed form is forwarded to Oakland Schools by the paraeducator.
  • Upon receipt, Oakland Schools will prepare and distribute a Completion Certificate.

On-the-Job-Skill and Knowledge Application

In response to continuing questions regarding the 105 hours of one-the-job knowledge and application requirement, the program Advisory Committee found that:

  • The 105 hours of on-the-job knowledge application requirement of the Paraeducator Certification Program are in addition to the 15 hours of structured training sessions. The certification training program is a process that involves demonstration and discussion of outcomes for each session.
  • The 105 hours can begin as soon as the paraeducator takes the first structured training session (The Role of the Paraeducator) and received the Worktext. The hours cannot end before the paraeducator completes the last of the six sessions. The time that it takes to complete the 105 hours of on-the-job training is dependent on how the paraeducator schedules attendance at the sessions and the demonstrated outcome observations with the supervising teacher.
  • If a paraeducator works with several teachers or in more than one building, he or she must choose which teacher and/or administrator will assist him or her through the completion of the certification process.
  • The Paraeducator Certification Program was developed for the working paraeducator, but it is important to understand that the 105 hours are not merely hours spent working, but hours focused on demonstrating the required outcomes to the supervising teacher over a period of time.Ê As the paraeducator attends each structured session, he or she should return to his or her worksite and focus on the anticipated outcomes as outlined in the Paraeducator Worksheet. The period of focus could be several days or weeks. There are no time limitations for demonstration each session.
  • Remember, the 105 hours are a summary of the skills learned during the six structured sessions.

Overview of the Paraeducator Certification Session Content

The Role Of The Paraeducator In The Classroom
Paraeducators will learn techniques and strategies for working with students as well as gaining support to build positive classroom teams with teachers. Practical how-to steps will be presented through the use of simulations, role play, and small-group discussion. All participants should come prepared to get involved.

Communication Skills
This 2 ½hour session will emphasize verbal and nonverbal communication skills. Participants will receive models illustrating examples of good communication. Communication perceptions and misperceptions will be thoroughly investigated through skill practice. Paraeducators will have opportunities to increase and enhance communication skills for use in the classroom through role playing both good and poor communication in the school setting and then analyze how to improve.

Student Expectations This session will be divided into age-appropriate sessions to investigate the various developmental stages of children and youth:

Elementary - This 2 ½hour session will look at how students think, grow, and interact with friends and teachers. The paraeducator will learn to use information to motivate, work with, and manage student behavior.

Secondary - This 2 ½hour session will focus on the principles of adolescent development. The paraeducator will explore strategies for effective communication and instructional support in the secondary classroom.

Classroom Management Techniques During this 2 ½hour session, the paraeducator will have opportunities to investigate aspects of classroom management, including proactive decisions that can reduce off-task behavior, while helping students make the best of learning time, and reasons that students misbehave and some appropriate responses that the paraeducator can apply to redirect the behavior.

Stratgies Of Instruction
This 2 ½ hour session will investigate the following paraeducator roles

  • offering teacher support in instruction
  • modifying instructional materials to work with students
  • tutoring individual students
  • effective instruction methods

Population, Pathogens, Procedures, And Precautions (Pppp)
This 2½ hour sessions will provide an overview of student disabilities by category with typical characteristics described, including instructional and/or behavioral strategies. Paraeducators will travel through the maze of special education while invaluable information about universal precautions and blood-borne pathogens is imparted. This hands-on, interactive workshop provides user-friendly materials in a programmed format to keep everyone involved, interested, and informed.

All 28 local school districts in the Oakland system are participating in the Paraeducator Certification Program. The total number of paraeducators enrolled is 1200.

Wanda Cook-Robinson
Assistant Superintendent
School Performance Team
Oakland Schools
2100 Pontiac Lake Rd
Waterford MI 48328
Phone (248) 209-2047

The Los Angeles Unified School District Paraeducator Career Ladder Programs

Steve Brandick Director, Paraeducator Career

There is a need for teachers who reflect the changing demographics of Los Angeles. There is also a shortage of elementary, bilingual, mathematics, science, and special education teachers. However, among the 15,000 paraeducators who assist teachers in classrooms throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District, there are many who have both the desire and ability to help meet these needs. The great majority are from the community in which they work. All have experience working with children and many have expressed the desire to become teachers, but they have encountered such obstacles as time, money, family responsibilities, or passing the CBEST exam.

In 1990, the California legislature established the California School Paraprofessional Teacher Training Program to address several key issues and opportunities in the stateâs public schools. The primary purpose of the program is to create local career ladders that enable school paraprofessionals to become certificated classroom teachers. Additionally, the program was designed to:

  • respond to teacher shortages in areas of high need such as special education;
  • diversify the teaching profession;
  • establish innovative models for teacher education; and
  • improve instructional services that are provided by school paraprofessionals.

The core of the program consists of academic scholarships to defray the costs of tuition, books, and fees for paraprofessionals who complete college and university course work to meet teacher certification standards by earning college degrees and teaching credentials. Since 1994-95, the program has enabled 129 school paraprofessionals to become certificated classroom teachers and has enabled 600 other paraprofessionals to approach that goal.

In September 1994, the LAUSD Paraeducator Career Ladder was established as a joint project of the district and the Service Employees International Union, Local 99 in which there were pursuing careers as teachers and to guide them short fields. The program was designed on the California School Paraprofessionals Teacher Training Program model, but the LAUSD program went much further.

There are 13 California School Paraprofessional Teacher Training Programs throughout the state. However, LAUSD is the only program that has made an effort to become a model that is institutionalized and fully supported by the district. The LAUSD Career Ladder is open to all district paraeducators, not just the small group funded by the state. The Board of Education provided funds for development and initial implementation on a year-to-year basis from July 1995 and then established the program as part of the general fund budget in July 1996. The Career Ladder is now a unit within the Personnel Division and is an integral part of the districtâs recruitment strategy. It receives approximately $1 million annually; from district funds that support over 4000 participants. It also receives approximately $140,000 from the state in the form of a grant for a California School Paraprofessional Teacher Training Program that supports forty-five participants.

The Career Ladder also acts as a clearinghouse helping to disseminate information about other efforts to develop teachers. Currently, it is working with programs such as the USC Latino Teacher Project, CSULA Apprentice Teacher Program, CSULA Special Education Intern Program, CSUN Project COMETS (also a special education credential program), PACE at various community colleges, and Project Teach at East Los Angeles Colleges.

Career Ladder participants are placed on one of five levels based on education completed towards a teaching credential and demonstrated proficiency in a series of teaching-related performance areas. Progress towards a teaching credential is monitored through ongoing analysis of transcripts. Proficiency in performance areas is assessed through observation by the supervising teacher.

As participants increase their level of proficiency and progress towards a work for the district for a minimum of two years if offered a position. In return, participants are provided with educational advisement, support groups, mentoring, test preparation seminars, hiring assistance, and partial tuition reimbursement.

Results of the Career Ladder have been impressive. Since July 1995, over 800 program participants have been hired as teachers.

These new teachers are 85% people of color and 65 bilingual. 12% have gone into special education. Reports from the field indicate that they are generally having success and come to the profession with skills that few other new teachers possess. In addition, 97% of Career Ladder participants hired as teachers since July 1995 are still teaching for the district. By bringing together the needs of schools and the aspirations of a vital group of employees, the education of students has been improved.

During the first half of the 1998-1999 school year, resources have been focused upon improving program components to maximize the number of participants that become district teachers.

The following describes the current status of the program.

New Teachers

From July 1, 1998 through October 30, 1998, 262 participants became K-12 teachers, 62% became elementary teachers and 24% entered the field of special education. The ethnic diversity of these teachers continues to reflect the diversity of the LAUSD student population.


The Fall edition of Education , the oldest education journal in the United States, features the Career Ladder through photographs on the front and back covers, an article by Superintendent Rubin Zacarias, and a cover article co-written by Mr. Steve Brandick, Career Ladder Director and Dr. John McGowan, Career Ladder On-Campus Adviser at California State University, Dominguez Hills. In addition, the journal presented Mr. Brandick and Dr. McGowan with a Special Merit Award for Project Innovation.

Paraprofessional Teacher Training Program (PTTP)

The PTTP is a grant program funded by the State of California through the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC). The proposal, as funded, specifies that participants must be Career Ladder enrollees at Level 3, 4, or 5 with a minimum 2.75 GPA studying at CSUDH. The original participants were chosen in an open competition held in Fall 1994. When the CCTC expanded funding to the LAUSD PTTP in February 1998, fifteen new participants were selected from among Career Ladder Outstanding Teacher Candidates at CSUDH. In 1998-1999, the LAUSD PTTP entered its fifth year. Funding for the year is $153,000 which brings the total received to $646,000.

Outstanding Teacher Candidates

These OTC's are Career Ladder participants who are nominated by their schools to receive a $3000 annual stipend. OTCâs must maintain a minimum 2.75 GPA and complete nine semester units each semester or eight quarter units each quarter. There are 58 active recipients, and 138 former recipients who are now teachers. Application is currently open for new recipients.

Implementation Of Apprentice Teacher Program

This program is an alternative route to teacher certification for LAUSD Paraeducator Career Ladder participants pursuing teaching careers in elementary education. It was developed by the Career Ladder Office in collaboration with the California State University, Los Angeles Charter School of Education. In two years, participants complete requirements for a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Child Development and a preliminary multiple subjects credential at CSULA. This is done by integrating upper division requirements with credential course work and by weaving structured paraeducator classroom experiences into the course work. The first cohort of 31 participants began with the Winter 1999 quarter. Applications for the second cohort are currently being accepted. This cohort began in Fall 1999.

Pilot Programs In Development

The Career Ladder Office is currently developing three new programs: 1) a collaboration with CSUDH to implement a blended program that integrates undergraduate requirements with credential requirements for paraeducators, 2) a collaboration with the Multicultural Alliance and Americorps to extend support to Career Ladder participants working on credentials as emergency permit teachers, and 3) a collaboration with USC to provide stipends to encourage participants to complete traditional teacher training programs.

Expanded Test Preparation Program

The Career Ladder has added Math Praxis to its array of test preparation services offered to Career Ladder participants, other district employees, and LAUSD teacher candidates.

This year there will be four CBEST seminars, five MSAT seminars and one Math Praxis seminar.

Evaluation of the effectiveness of test preparation seminars has proved challenging because results are confidential and the testing companies have refused to send results of seminar participants directly to LAUSD. The Career Ladder Office has begun a campaign to obtain the results directly from seminar participants. A complete evaluation of the program will be conducted in June 1999.

Implementation Of Revised Performance Assessments

During 1997-1998, Performance Assessments were revised for the first time since 1994. The revision was made: 1) to make Performance Assessments more useful as a teacher training tool, and 2) to bring them into alignment with the California Standards for the Teaching Profession.

Open Application And Support Group Recruitment

Eligible employees may now apply to the Career Ladder at any time during the year by attending a Support Group meeting and obtaining the signature of the Support Provider. Participants may also apply at informational meetings held each November and April. Open application makes it possible for Support Providers to recruit members. Individual schools may also begin on-site Support Groups if they can maintain attendance of fifteen program participants.

Currently, there are 55 Support Groups that are organized by high school complex. These groups meet once every two months with a Support Provider, an experienced teacher who acts as a mentor to the group.

On-Campus Adviser Services

On-Campus Advisers are faculty members at CSUDH, CSULA, CSULB, and CSUN who provide additional advisement to Career Ladder participants whether or not they are enrolled at the institution. The Career Ladder Office monitors services and makes adjustments where necessary;. For 1998-1999, advisement services were expanded at CSULA. A minimal amount of hours are offered at CSULB due to the small number of program participants who enroll in that institution. Services at CSUN have been temporarily discontinued because of difficulties obtaining services requested in the contract.

Participant Satisfaction Survey

The program was evaluated in June 1998 by participants through the annual Participant Satisfaction Survey. Generally high marks were received.

The Ladder

The Career Ladder newsletter, The Ladder, is published quarterly and now has a distribution if 6000. Copies are sent to all schools and offices, all past and present participants, and a growing mailing list of other interested persons and organizations throughout the country.

Career Ladder Informational Packet

During the week of January 4, 1999 the Career Ladder Office distributed an informational packet to all schools. The packet included a brochure, a poster, a program application, and a twenty-minute informational video developed by Career Ladder staff.

LA Unified School District
450 N. Grand Avenue, Room P-218
Los Angeles, CA 90012

The North Dakota Community Staff Training Program

by Demetrios Vassiliou and Mary Mercer

When this article was written in October 1997, Demetrios Vassiliou was Director of Outreach, Training, and Technical Assistance at the Minot State University Center for Persons with Disabilities. Mary Mercer was the Project Manager for the Community Staff Training Program. She is now the Community Staff Training Project Director.


North Dakota has a landmass of 70,665 square miles and a population of approximately 625,000 with a population density of nine persons per square mile. Distances between cities are vast. Community centered facilities providing services to persons with developmental disabilities are scattered throughout the state. This training program is a model that uniquely meets the needs of rural states. Using a circuit rider approach, technical assistance is provided to the designated regional trainers who work with provider staff dispersed throughout the state. The training program, with its career ladder options, is available and accessible to every community-based agency and every employee providing services to individuals with developmental disabilities in North Dakota.

Historical Background

Historically, individuals with mental retardation/developmental disabilities have been separated from the main stream of community life. They were often restricted in their personal freedoms and segregated in institutions without adequate treatment, education, habilitation, or medical care. At the turn of the century in North Dakota, institutions were built to protect individuals with disabilities and to alleviate the burden for their families. Although those institutions were built with the best intent, they gradually became the only service option available for individuals with mental retardation. By 1966, the population at Grafton State School and its San Haven satellite had reached an all-time high of 1400 residents. By the late 70s, North Dakota had institutionalized more persons per capita and spent less on institutional services than any other state in the nation.

In 1980, the North Dakota Association of Retarded Citizens filed a suit against state officials enumerating deficiencies in services to the state's citizens with mental retardation. In the years that have followed, hundreds of residents have moved from the Grafton State School and San Haven State Hospital to community programs located all over the state. It is this transfer of residents from the large institutional settings to smaller facilities in the local communities that has dramaticallyincreased the need for qualified and specialized direct service staff to provide programming in the areas of domestic, vocational, recreational, behavior management, and other skills.

In June 1982, the Department of Human Services began actively to pursue the development of a statewide training system for direct service staff working in community facilities serving individuals with mental retardation/developmental disabilities. One of the first activities undertaken in developing the Community Staff Training Program was to identify a competency-based training program consisting of self-contained instructional modules that would address the skills and knowledge necessary for direct service staff. After reviewing several training programs, the Kellogg Model Curriculum based on the Value-Based Skill Training Curriculum for Community-Based Mental Retardation Programs developed at the Meyer Children's Rehabilitation Institute at the University of Nebraska Medical Center was selected as the most appropriate vehicle for training.

The training program was initially federally funded for a period of 18 months. When the federal funding ended, the Department of Human Services continued its funding and contracted with Minot State University to implement it.

Collaborative Efforts

While similar training programs have come and gone, the North Dakota Community Staff Training Program continues to grow, adapt, and adjust to the ever-changing demands and needs of people with disabilities and those who serve them. Critical to the programâs success has been the collaborative relationships among the Department of Human Services, Minot State University, and community provider agencies.

Each of the three entities involved has well-defined objectives and responsibilities regarding the implementation of the training program. The Department of Human Services contracts with Minot State University and provides funding for the administration of the program. A person from the Department of Human Services is appointed to act as a liaison with Minot State University and community providers. The liaison attends the quarterly DD regional trainersâ meetings and provides feedback to the participants. The Department of Human Services reimburses the community agencies for the salaries of their trainer(s) and pays for printing expenses of curriculum materials and staff time spent in training activities (50 hours per year).

The North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities (NDCPD), a University Affiliated Program (UAP) at Minot State University (MSU), the second partner in the training endeavor, occupies a unique position in the state of North Dakota. It works very closely with allied disciplines within the university, as well as with other state agencies and organizations providing services and promoting the interests of people with disabilities. MSU with its UAP and its very strong Special Education programs provides training to trainers and on-site technical assistance. It performs needs assessments, conducts research, and develops training curricula, training videotapes, and other training materials. It maintains the centralized record-keeping system, issues degrees and certificates, and disseminates training materials to agencies and individuals serving individuals with developmental disabilities.

North Dakota community-based agencies make up the third entity in the statewide training program partnership. They hire regional trainers who are responsible for the staff development in each location. Salaries for these trainers are included in the funding provided to them by the Department of Human Services. These state-certified regional trainers are linked to the University and have helped the system remain accountable to changing agency needs. They keep training records and assist MSU staff in surveys and assessments and provide feedback for curriculum development and revision. In addition, they serve on management teams and participate in committees within the local agency.

Training Delivery

Staff trainers are responsible for preparing, providing, and/or conducting instructional inservice programs and other training activities for personnel within the agency they serve. Trainers utilize other experts within or out of the agency to train their staff and they schedule training according to the needs of individual staff. The curriculum is designed to allow for the use of a variety of training options, techniques, and methods (i.e., self-instruction, group instruction, and on-the-job training). The option to test-out is made available to staff with previous training/expertise in specific areas.

Individuals selected for the trainer's position must possess a bachelorâs degree or advanced degree in a related field, preferably special education, psychology, social work, or nursing. Teaching and work experience in the area of developmental disabilities are among the criteria considered for selection.

Trainers meet on a quarterly basis to discuss issues and problems related to the statewide training program. In addition, to the routine agenda items related to program mechanics, "Train the Trainer" sessions, workshops, and informational presentations are conducted. This is a good opportunity for the trainers to get acquainted, exchange views and information, and share ideas, questions and concerns regarding training practices.

This network of trainers provides input in curriculum development and revisions that reflect the ever-changing needs of community providers. Since the inception of the training program in July of 1983, the initial Kellogg Curriculum has been expanded and modified resulting in a very comprehensive training program consisting of 37 training modules covering a range of training competencies. Direct input by agency representatives ensures commitment to the future of the statewide training program.

Career Ladder

The North Dakota Community Staff Training Program has been structured in such a way as to provide career ladder growth opportunities to direct service staff who have the desire and willingness to develop professionally. Seven levels of competency-based training are recognized in the mental retardation/developmental disabilities system. These are:

Level I: Orientation Training:

Community Service Providers are to provide in-service training to full-time direct service staff, prior to the staff membersâ assuming direct responsibility for the individuals they serve. Although not required, the agency is encouraged to consider this requirement in whole or in part for direct service staff who are part-time or relief.

Level II: Position-Based Competency:

Position-Based Competency is required of all positions in agencies serving individuals with mental retardation/developmental disabilities. The executive director in cooperation with the staff trainer, must develop job descriptions for each position, stating the competencies necessary for an individual to fulfill the responsibilities of the position.

Level III: Certificate of Completion:

This is issued to staff members who successfully meet the competencies established for the certificate by the Department of Human Services. It requires successful completion of nine core modules, five elective modules, and a course of supervised field experiences. The agency selects electives from the curriculum based on a staff memberâs specific job responsibilities.

Level IV: Advanced Certification:

Staff members of agency organizations who have already acquired the certificate of completion have the option to pursue the advanced certification program. It consists of ten additional modules dealing with a variety of training issues including aging, communication, leisure, behavior management, traumatic brain injury, and basic health. Staff members who successfully complete the advanced certification requirements are issued an additional certificate.

Level V: Associate of Arts in DD

: MSU will award this degree upon satisfactory completion of the designated 27 semester hours of developmental disabilities coursework and 38 semester hours of general education coursework. The A.A. degree coursework is available only to personnel employed in approved residential and day programs serving persons with mental retardation/developmental disabilities.

Level VI: Bachelor of Science in Mental Retardation (Non-Teaching)

Those who desire to pursue this degree after completion of the Associate of Arts degree in Developmental Disabilities must confirm with MSU their intent to attend the university and earn it.

Level VII: Master of Science in Special Education

: Individuals may earn this degree at MSU after successful completion of a graduate course of study in the Severely Multi-Handicapped.

Developmental Disabilities Modules/Coursework

Following is a listing of the developmental disabilities modules/ coursework. Core modules are identified by one asterisk (*) and elective modules are identified by two asterisks (**) in the list which follows. Staff must complete practica that correspond to the core and elective modules submitted for their certification. All modules listed under the Sp.Ed. three-digit headings are the module content requirements for the Minot State University Associate of Arts degree coursework in Developmental Disabilities.

Sp.Ed.101 Introduction to DD Services (3SH)

*895.39 Supporting Individuals with Disabilities in the Community
*895.03 Legal Issues and Developmental Disabilities
*895.40 Team Planning
*895.41 Working with Families OR
*895.42 Job Coach Training Manual

Sp.Ed.111 Health Care in DD I (3SH)

*895.06 Medications Training
*895.07 CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)
*895.08 First Aid
**895.45 Nutrition OR
**895.46 Sexuality and DD
**895.47 Oral Hygiene & Dental Care
**895.48 Control of Infection and Communicable Disease
**895.49 Signs and Symptoms of Illness
**895.50 Nurse Assistant Training

Sp.Ed.112 Health Care in DD II (2 SH)

*895.10 Seizures
**895.11 Positioning, Turning and Transferring

Sp.Ed.120 Introduction to Behavior Management(3SH)

**895.51 Introduction to Behavior Management
**895.51 Principles of Behavior and Basic Behavior Intervention Procedures
**895.52 Designing and Implementing BehaviorIntervention Programs
**895.15 Writing Behavioral Objectives and Measuring Behavior

Sp.Ed.130 Organization of Leisure (1SH)

**895.19 Recreation and Leisure Training

Sp.Ed.140 Human Development (2 SH)

**895.21 Human Development (Condensed Version)
**895.22 Human Development I
**895.23 Human Development II

Sp.Ed.221 Techniques of Behavior Management (2SH)

**895.55 Assessment and Setting Goals
*895.18 Achieving Goals

Sp.Ed.225 Assisting People with Traumatic Brain Injury & their Families (2SH)

**895.56 Assisting People with Traumatic Brain Injury and their Families
**895.57 Beyond Brain Injury: A Manual for Supported Employment Providers

Sp.Ed.250 Developing Communicative Interaction (2SH)

**895.24 The Framework of Interaction and Communication
**895.25 Recognizing and Responding to the Many Forms of Communication
**895.26 Increasing Understanding
**895.27 Increasing Communication
**895.60ÊInterpersonal Communication

Sp.Ed.255 Aging and DD (3 SH)

**895.28 Introduction and Overview
**895.29 Medical and Health Issues
**895.30 Transitions and Social Adjustment
**895.31 Legal Issues
**895.32 Issues in Service Coordination

Sp.Ed.222 Supervised Field Experience in DD (4 SH)

*I Individual Program Plans
*II Medication Documentation and Storage
*III Administration of Medications
**IV Positioning, Turning and Transferring
*V Seizure Activity Documentation
**VI ABC Recording
**VII Frequency Recording
**VIII Writing Objectives
*IX Strengthening/Decreasing a Behavior
*X Individualized Instruction, etc.
** Aging and Developmental Disabilities
** Leisure/Recreation
** Communication

Compensation For Training Activities

Inservice training must be offered on a flexible schedule and at times that meet the needs of staff. The amount of reimbursable training time allotted to a full-time direct service staff is one hour during the normal work week schedule, which is to be matched by one hour outside the normally scheduled work hours. Successful completion of all modules that are required to attain certificate of completion described earlier qualifies professional and direct service staff for up to a 5% salary increase. Successful completion of an Associate of Arts degree when attained by previously non-degree direct service staff qualifies for a 7% salary increase. These allowances are not mutually exclusive. A staff member may qualify for the 5% increase and subsequently qualify for the additional 7% increase

Training Workshops

MSU organizes at least six workshops and a number of state and international conferences to meet additional training needs of direct and other developmental disability personnel as well as primary and secondary consumers. All workshops provide the opportunity to participants to enroll for Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Some workshops may offer undergraduate and graduate credit.

Audio-Visual Media Library

MSU's Department of Developmental Disabilities maintains a central audio-visual media library equipped with a variety of videocassettes appropriate for training. Staff trainers may request to borrow and use them in their training activities.

Centralized Data System

The Community Staff Training Program maintains a computerized database of training activities for every staff member participating in the training program. Staff trainers keep their own computerized data system as well.

Staff Turnover

Staff turnover appears to be a chronic problem for agencies/organizations serving individuals with developmental disabilities. Surveys of administrators of institutional and community facilities indicate that the recruitment and retention of direct service staff members are considered to be major concerns (Vassiliou, D., & Askvig, B.,1991). A high turnover rate significantly affects the availability of training staff and the costs of training for agencies and the state-funding source. North Dakota is clearly part of this national problem.

Vassiliou and Ferrara (1997) reported a 54% turnover rate in their study of staff (N=610) employed by twenty North Dakota agencies providing services to people with disabilities. There was, however, a considerable variability across categories and positions. Among administrative staff, the turnover rate was 10%. There was a great discrepancy between the rates for full-time (31%) and part-time direct service staff (88%). Part-time employees constitute 46% of the total workforce.

Wages were found to be significant predictor of staff turnover for all employee groups. There was a significant (p<.01) relationship between certification training and length of employment. The average length of employment for certified staff was 69 months versus 25 months for non-certified staff. The number of resignations varied throughout the year. The smallest number of employees (70) resigned in December and the largest number (120) resigned in June. This could be attributed to the large number of students who are part-time employees who leave when classes are over.

It appears that people who leave their jobs are divided into three groups with different characteristics:

Student employees are a temporary work force and will leave regardless of wages, unless they choose the DD services as a profession.

A second group of employees are those for whom DD service work is a job of last resort. These individuals are not particularly interested in the work and they leave when another position becomes available.

The third group of employees enjoys the work, likes their co-workers and the people with whom they work, but are forced out of DD services because of a mediocre salary.Ê Working at the community facility simply becomes a luxury they can no longer afford.

Agencies need to be cognizant of these employee differences.Ê Studentsâ turnover is predictable and agencies must weigh the benefits versus longevity. Turnover rate among less interested employees is healthy.Ê Better screening procedures may reduce the turnover associated with this group. On the other hand, losing dedicated and interested employees is detrimental to the agency and the consumer. Administrators must provide salaries and benefits that are high enough to allow them to continue their employment with the community facilities.

Training Results

Fourteen years have past since the initiation of the North Dakota Community Staff Training Program. Since 1983, the training program has experienced a steady growth, maturing and evolving to keep pace with the expansion and training needs of the stateâs community-based programs and services. Using a career ladder approach, over 18,000 staff from agencies across the state has received training. Exactly 3,160 individuals have completed certification requirements since the programâs inception. Approximately 100 individuals have successfully completed the Associate of Arts degree in Developmental Disabilities. Some trainees continued their studies and graduated with a bachelors and a masters degree in Special Education/Developmental Disabilities.

Survey of graduates: Twenty-one individuals who completed the requirements for the Associate of Arts degree in Developmental Disabilities were surveyed (1994). Some of the questions and answers are listed below:

  • Why did you choose to pursue the Associate of Arts degree in Developmental Disabilities?
  • The opportunity was so convenient that I felt I could not pass it up.
  • Having the classes offered right at my place of employment was really a big incentive.
  • The price per credit was so low it was irresistible.
  • It was a wonderful opportunity to get a degree. Many businesses do not offer this. I thought it would increase my chances to advance my career in this agency.
  • The training helped me as a case manager. It provided very good practical information. It updated my previous coursework and made my knowledge more current and accurate.
  • It made me more qualified in the field.
  • I did not have to drive a long distance.
  • It was a validation of my 12 years of experience in the field of Developmental Disabilities.
  • It increased my knowledge and improved my job performance.
  • How did the degree help you in your profession?It allowed me to keep my job.
  • The training applied directly to the daily requirements of my job.
  • It gave me skills to assist the population I serve and confidence to pursue a higher degree.
  • The education has been very valuable.
  • I've been assigned more job responsibilities.
  • It provided me with a good foundation and I have been given several promotions since I completed the Associate of Arts degree.
  • It opened the door to three different jobs in three different cities in the state.
  • The training program made me better prepared to work in programs providing services to people with disabilities than training I have received in the state where I now work. I wish they had the same program in this state.
  • I got hooked on increasing my educational base. I eventually completed an endorsement in regular education, and earned a Masters Degree.
  • The career ladder approach encourages staff members to learn more about their jobs.
  • As staff members achieved higher levels of training, I witnessed a growth in self-esteem. They began setting goals for themselves and believed that they could learn and grow.

Success Stories

Marilyn Jensen is the Chief Executive Officer of Knife River Group Homes, Inc. in Hazen, North Dakota. This is an eight bed congregate care home for elderly people with developmental disabilities. When Marilyn began working as a direct care worker for Knife River Group Homes, in 1985, she was realizing a long forgotten dream of working with people with disabilities. After completing her certification in Developmental Disabilities, her family encouraged her to continue studying and complete the composite tests for college credit. She attended classes on weekends, summers, and evenings for the general education credits required and Marilyn became one of approximately 100 individuals who have successfully completed the Associate of Arts degree in DD. Over the next few years she continued to take classes here and there as they fit into her family and work schedule. In May of 1996, Marilyn graduated from MSU with a Bachelor in Social Work. Marilynâs own words: 'For the first time in my life, I feel like I am somebody, and I know it would not have happened if it had not been for the statewide training program offered by Minot State University. It was so accommodating'.

Dora Cowell began her work with children with developmental disabilities as a co-owner of a daycare in a small rural community in southwestern North Dakota.

As a substitute direct service worker for a local developmental disabilities provider, she became involved in the statewide training program. 'The training offered by Able Inc., an agency providing services to people with disabilities, allowed me to work at my own pace and gave me a variety of basic information that provided a solid beginning in the area of Special Education.' Dora ultimately devoted a year to pursuing her Bachelors Degree in Special Education and now teaches Special Education. She is enrolled in a graduate program at MSU seeking a Masters Degree in Learning Disabilities.


In the past 15 years North Dakota has experienced rapid and dramatic changes in the way it treats its citizens with mental retardation/ developmental disabilities. Since 1982, hundreds of individuals with mental retardation, who were residing in the state institutions, moved to communities throughout the state. Group homes, indiidualized apartments, employment opportunities, and rehabilitation services have been established to meet the increasing needs of these individuals. Early in this process, Minot State University was invited by the Department of Human Services to develop and implement a statewide community staff-training program.

A 'train the trainer to train the staff' approach has been used on a statewide basis, to train the staff of community facilities providing services to individuals with lifelong disabilities. The training program is a model that uniquely meets the needs of rural states. Using a ãcircuit riderä approach, technical assistance is provided to the designated regional trainers, who work with provider staff dispersed throughout the state. The training program, with its career options, is available and accessible to every agency and every employee providing services to individuals with developmental disabilities in North Dakota.

The success and the longevity of the training program has greatly depended on the collaboration and synergy that has gradually developed between the Department of Human Services, Community Facilities, and Minot State University. Utilizing the combined expertise, roles and responsibilities, trust, teamwork, and collaboration developed through the years, the collaborative endeavor continues to grow, by assimilating and accommodating the ever changing training needs of staff members and the consumers they serve.


Mitchell, D. & Braddock D. (1994). Compensation and turnover of direct-care-staff in developmental disabilities residential facilities in the United States II: Turnover. Mental Retardation, 32, 34-42.

Vassiliou, D., & Askvig, B. (1991). Factors related to staff longevity and turnover in a facility serving persons with DD. North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities, Minot State University.

Vassiliou, D., and Mercer, M. (1994). Career ladder approach to training for community facilities personnel in North Dakota. New Directions: The Newsletter of the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals in Education and Related Services, Center for Advanced Study in Education, City University of New York, Vol. 15, No. 1.

Vassiliou, D., and Ferrara, J. (1997). Factors related to staff longevity and turnover in facilities serving North Dakota Citizens with Developmental Disabilities. North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities, Minot State University.

The Paraprofessional Academy

by Thalia Moshoyannis, Director

The Paraprofessional Academy was established in 1993 with the purpose of addressing chronic problems in retaining, training, and providing career advancement opportunities for New York City Board of Education (BOE) paraprofessionals and direct service workers employed by public and non-profit agencies serving children and adults with special needs. The project is located at The Center for Advanced Study in Education (CASE) which is part of The Graduate School and University Center of The City University of New York (CUNY). The goals of the Paraprofessional Academy are to: 1) develop and implement strategies for increasing the capacity of CUNY to meet the educational and career needs of paraprofessional worker-students; 2) strengthen partnerships of CUNY institutions with the BOE, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), the New York State Department of Education (NYSDOE), the NYS Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (NYSOMR/DD), and non-profit provider agencies; and 3) serve as a locus for assistance to paraprofessionals to gain access to and make more effective use of CUNY services.

The two primary activities conducted by the Paraprofessional Academy are academic planning/career counseling and the coordination of a two-course continuing education sequence. The counseling services are available to all 16,800 BOE paraprofessionals. They can take advantage of individual, group, and telephone counseling as they deem appropriate. Workshops in career development and advancement are offered throughout the year as well.

The Paraprofessional Academy's auxiliary activities include strengthening and expanding partnerships with city, state, and non-profit provider agencies, CUNY institutions, and unions such as the UFT. The Project Advisory Committee of the Paraprofessional Academy, which meets about four times a year, is comprised of individuals from CUNY community and senior colleges, the BOE, UFT, NYSDOE, NYSOMR/DD. The purpose of these meetings is to share ideas and concerns related to the educational and training needs of paraprofessionals, keep abreast of current changes in policy at the local and state level regarding paraprofessional and teacher certification requirements, and remain informed of new developments in the field that may be of interest to paraprofessionals. Over the years, the members of the Project Advisory Committee have worked collaboratively to provide the best possible programs to paraprofessionals.

The Paraprofessional Academy periodically conducts research and shares findings with members of the Project Advisory Committee and the Deans of CUNY teacher preparation programs. During the Spring of 1998, an extensive survey research project was conducted with paraprofessionals and teachers working in NYC public schools. The first two surveys were sent to paraprofessionals and dealt with roles and responsibilities in the classroom and barriers to education and training opportunities respectively. The third survey was sent to teachers and concerned the use of paraprofessionals in the classroom. The findings were reported to the members of the Project Advisory Committee in the Fall of 1998.

Career Training Program

The Career Training Program (CTP), which has been in existence since 1970, is part of a contractual agreement between the BOE and the UFT, allowing paraprofessionals to take up to 18 credits a year free of charge at 17 colleges of CUNY and 5 private colleges. Paraprofessionals are also eligible for salary increases and accompanying changes in title as they take courses and climb the career ladder. The incentive of a salary increase is in place to serve as a motivator to earn college credits.

Because paraprofessionals can choose from among 22 colleges, countless programs of study, and two types of student status (matriculated and non-matriculated), there exists much confusion regarding college study. Unfortunately, paraprofessionals do not always have easy access to counselors at the colleges in which they are taking courses. Many paraprofessionals opt to attend college as non-matriculated students (non-degree). This status does not provide for academic advisement and, because of this, many paraprofessionals take coursework that will ultimately count as elective credit if they decide to pursue a degree. The Paraprofessional Academy fills this academic planning/career counseling void by offering free counseling services to all paraprofessionals regardless of their matriculation status. Through a variety of vehicles including individual appointment, telephone counseling, and group workshops, worker-students are taught the connection between choosing a major and choosing a career. How a particular degree may be applied to the world of work is critical in helping the paraprofessional to choose coursework wisely. For paraprofessionals who wish to become teachers, the Academy provides them with up-to-date information from the NYSDOE regarding provisional and permanent certification requirements.

Many paraprofessionals enjoy their profession and intend on remaining paraprofessionals. For them, the opportunity to receive salary increases and become highly skilled in their chosen occupation exists at the community colleges of CUNY. There they can major in Early Childhood/Day Care or receive an Education Associate degree. It should be noted that obtaining an Education Associate degree is akin to obtaining an Associate degree in paraprofessionalism. It does not mean that a paraprofessional is halfway towards obtaining teacher certification, much as licensed practical nurses are not halfway towards becoming registered nurses upon completion of their training requirements. Should a paraprofessional who wishes to become a teacher find him- or herself at a community college, the best course of action would be to major in Liberal Arts as these courses are the most likely to be transferred easily to the four-year colleges of CUNY and count as fulfilling requirements in liberal arts. Due to a lack of articulation among the various colleges that comprise the CUNY system, students who choose to transfer among its schools often find that the coursework taken at one school will not meet requirements at another. Valuable time is lost when students need to make-up coursework. The counselors at the Academy are always searching for ways to inform students of this potential hazard during the transfer process.

Paraprofessionals who wish to become teachers are urged to begin study at a four-year college where they can fulfill all of their Liberal Arts and Science Area Requirements (LASAR) as well as requirements in their co-major of Education. The State of New York mandates that would-be teachers not only major in Education but co-major in another subject area.

Continuing Education

Not every paraprofessional intends to obtain a college degree. At present, New York State requires that all paraprofessionals possess a G.E.D. or a high school diploma when they are hired. Paraprofessionals then have one year from the date on which they were hired to complete six college credits, which the BOE will pay for. Paraprofessionals who do not meet the six credit minimum requirement before the first year anniversary of their date of hire are terminated.

After completing that requirement, many paraprofessionals opt not to continue with college study; however, they do welcome opportunities to take advantage of available training. Such opportunities include conferences, workshops, lectures, seminars, or continuing education courses. Paraprofessionals who are interested in expanding upon their classroom skills may take advantage of the Paraprofessional Development Continuing Education Program. It began in the Fall of 1995 and has enhanced the ability of over 1,800 paraprofessionals to more effectively support teachers in the classroom. Two courses (CE I and CE II) are offered at the following CUNY campuses: Lehman College (Bronx), York College (Queens), Medgar Evers College (Brooklyn), City College (Manhattan), and The College of Staten Island. Students receive three continuing education units as well as a certificate of completion for each course. The BOE allows paraprofessionals to apply these continuing education units towards potential salary increases. Paraprofessionals who have a G.E.D., I.E.P. diploma, or a high school diploma can also take these two continuing education courses to meet their NYS six -credit requirement. The credits, however, may not be applied toward a college degree.

Course I topics are:

  • Strengthening the Instructional Team
  • Human & Legal Rights of Children and Youth With Disabilities & their Families
  • Human Development
  • The Instructional Process
  • Appreciating Diversity

Course II topics are:

  • New Dimensions in the Roles & Responsibilities of Paraprofessionals
  • The School and the Community
  • Communications/Problem-Solving Strategies
  • Instructional Methods & Behavior Management Techniques
  • Child Safety and Health Issues

A critical component of the Paraprofessional Development Continuing Education Program is that students receive systematic academic planning and career counseling. For students who take Course I, a two-hour presentation focusing on how to take full advantage of the Career Training program, effectively navigate the CUNY system, and make use of available services is held on-site where students are taking the continuing education course. The counselor challenges students who have been out of college for a while to consider obtaining a degree.

Participants in Course II are given the Holland Self-Directed Search, an interest inventory used in career counseling. The discussion that follows focuses on how students' unique interests are related to career choices. Once again, the connection between choosing a major and choosing a career is explored. Students are then encouraged to make individual appointments with the counselor to discuss specific concerns.

What begins as a desire for intellectual stimulation, to increase one's on-the-job skills or salary, often ends up drawing paraprofessionals into the pursuit of a college degree. Once the discovery is made that the paraprofessional can negotiate the demands of full-time employment, family responsibilities, and outside study, he or she often decides to take additional courses for college credit. Highly motivated paraprofessionals will eventually matriculate and earn a degree. In a sense, continuing education departments serve as a vehicle of recruitment into college degree programs.

Since 1993, The Paraprofessional Academy has recognized that there are various methods of delivering education and meeting the training needs of paraprofessionals. The importance of systematic academic planning/career counseling for paraprofessionals and the need to form meaningful alliances with local and state agencies, BOE, and the UFT to create enhanced services for paraprofessionals has also been stressed. As the Paraprofessional Academy enters its sixth year, we remain committed to providing paraprofessionals with quality services and a broad range of options regarding educational/career advancement.

For more information, contact:
Thalia Moshayannis, Director
The Paraprofessional Academy
Center for Advanced Study in Education
The Graduate School and University Center of the
City University of New York
365 Fifth Avenue, Suite 3300
New York, NY 10016
Phone (212) 817-1829

Books and Manuals

In addition to the training materials listed below, check out our manuals here