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Special Education

Technical Assistance Advisory SPED 2014-3 (revised)

Identifying the Need for Paraprofessional Support

Examples — Identifying the Need for Paraprofessional Support

The following examples are intended to be illustrative, not exhaustive.

Student W is identified as presenting learning needs that are substantially different than those typically met by the general education teacher. The IEP Team might conclude that a paraprofessional, even with appropriate training and instruction, would not have the expertise or skills to meet these needs and that co-teaching with a special education teacher or collaboration between the special education and regular education teachers would appropriately address Student's underlying learning challenges.

Student X is identified as needing supplemental instruction. She also needs facilitation with peer interactions. After identifying her underlying educational needs, the IEP Team would consider the range of options that would meet those needs. The Team might determine that a paraprofessional is appropriate or that additional special education services (such as consultation to the regular education teacher and a social skills group) would better address Student's underlying learning difficulties. If a paraprofessional is to be assigned, the Team would discuss how to ensure the paraprofessional will be adequately trained and supervised.

Student Y has severe behavior problems. The needs might be identified as two-fold - both to safely contain and over time to reduce and eliminate Student's aggressive behaviors. The IEP Team might conclude that a paraprofessional is needed to help safely manage Student Y's aggressive behaviors while developing and implementing a plan to reduce, replace and/or eliminate the behaviors; but that paraprofessional services would not be able to address the underlining causes of Student's aberrant behaviors (and potentially could aggravate them); and that a behavior consultant and functional behavioral assessment are needed to develop a plan for more effectively addressing the Student's behaviors. The Team would also consider whether additional consultation services (perhaps from the behaviorist) may be needed to ensure appropriate training and supervision of the paraprofessional. Finally, the Team determines behavior criteria which, if met, would trigger a process for re-consideration of the need for paraprofessional services.

Student Z has significant mental health disabilities and is not making effective progress in the regular education classroom. The regular education teacher has little understanding or experience with the needs of students with this severity of mental health needs. The IEP Team would need to determine whether it may be sufficient to provide more or different consultation services to the regular education teacher; whether consultation services combined with a paraprofessional (who is appropriately trained and supervised) are needed to allow the student to access the curriculum and make effective progress; or whether Student's mental health needs are so significant that a different educational model is required for Student to receive an appropriate education.

Last Updated: February 26, 2015

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