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Avoiding Over-Reliance on Paraprofessionals: Knowing When to Use a Para and When to Apply a Different Solution

How can a school get out of the common situation of having an unwieldy number of paras, sometimes over-relying on them to educate the most challenging students?

Participants will examine the fundamental question: how is the need for a paraprofessional determined? Ideally, a paraprofessional is assigned to a student because a team has determined that something intrinsic about the student requires paraprofessional assistance. However, usually a para is assigned because the educational environment’s capacity is too limited to adapt to the needs of a particular student. This practice, certainly common and very understandable, sometimes leads to a cumbersome, very expensive, and in many cases, educationally inappropriate proliferation of paras.

Participants will receive tools they can use within their schools/districts to assess their own practices and develop improvement plans to build internal capacity that will not only reduce the number of paraprofessionals but will help ensure that all students are appropriately educated.

Participants will look at the factors that contribute to the over-reliance on paraprofessionals to educate students with disabilities, along with a growing body of evidence that supports that there are alternatives to this over-reliance.

This training is based on the work of Michael Giangreco.

Target Audience: general and special educators and administrators

Option A: One or Two-Day Workshop:  This workshop will build general awareness of the issues involved, planning needed, and steps that can be taken.

Option B: Training & Consulting Series: This option is for schools/districts that wish to make substantial systemic change in their assignment and utilization of paraprofessionals, with the assistance of a consultant.