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How Much Training is Required for a Classroom Aide?

by Wrightslaw

(Moved from the Community Helpline)

The school is proposing to have the majority of our autistic son’s special ed services provided by a classroom aide. They are saying the aide doesn’t need formal training or experience because he/she will be supervised by a highly qualified special ed person. How much training is implied by 1400 (E)?

No research supports using the least qualified staff – paraprofessionals – to teach students with complex learning needs. You need to educate those people who think using a paraprofessional to educate a child with autism is a good idea. You won’t do this by waving the law at them, although you can use it to frame questions. (You attended a Boot Camp – remember the Columbo Strategy?)

You need to provide information from acceptable sources – professional educators and people who train educators and administrators who have published articles about why this is a bad idea. Download and make several copies of these articles and provide each member of the team with a copy. If you use Google, you will find many more.

“The Paraprofessional Conundrum: Why We Need Alternative Support Strategies” by Michael Giangreco and Stephen M. Broer
“Although paraprofessional supports may relieve some pressures in schools and be supported by parents and professionals, serious questions remain. Is the model effective? Under what circumstances are paraprofessional supports appropriate to meet the needs of students with disabilities?
“Neither research nor common sense provides support for assigning the least trained personnel to provide primary instructional support for students with the most significant learning and behavioral challenges; yet, that is exactly what is happening across the country.

“… Some paraprofessionals are left to make daily curricular and instructional decisions without the benefit of appropriate training, planning, or supervision from qualified professionals. Some students with disabilities spend the majority of their instructional day with paraprofessionals. These practices are double standards that likely would be unacceptable if suggested for students without disabilities.” Read more

“Questionable Utilization of Paraprofessionals in Inclusive Schools: Are We Addressing Symptoms or Causes?” by Michael F. Giangreco and Stephen M. Broer
“In an era of increasing utilization of paraprofessionals, consider the following list of concerns associated with ensuring appropriate education for students with disabilities when schools rely on paraprofessionals as a primary support in general education classrooms:

  • The least qualified personnel are assigned to provide the bulk of instruction and support to students with the most challenging learning characteristics.
  • It is challenging to hire and retain qualified paraprofessionals because they are paid low wages, sometimes without benefits, and report receiving insufficient respect.
  • The scope and nature of paraprofessional work often is compromised by inadequate role clarification, orientation, training, and supervision.
  • Excessive one-to-one paraprofessional support has been associated with inadvertent detrimental effects (e.g., unnecessary dependence, stigmatization, interference with peer interactions, interference with teacher involvement, less competent instruction).
  • Virtually no student outcome data exist suggesting that students with disabilities do as well or better in school with paraprofessional supports.

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17 Comments on "How Much Training is Required for a Classroom Aide?"

Beverly K

If your son has an aide and you are worried about this support being removed, ask that the support be decreased slowly in a scheduled transition – like weaning to help ensure your son’s success. If your sons makes the transition successfully, it was time to end support from an aide. If he doesn’t, this will show that he needs the aide support. Sometimes an aide can support 2 students during the weaning process. Your child’s success is the goal….. Hope I have helped.


The Aide is an important “piece” in the education of a Special Needs Child. The Aide provides a trust factor and very important a “port in the Storm” in the life of a Special Needs Child. This does not mean the Aide is capable of building a Ship.

Most School Districts make this argument to the parents by their exclusion of Aides in the IEP process. Most Aides have never seen the IEP of the child they are charged with. Aides and Educators are not interchangeable in their responsibilities. In a classroom of 30 plus students, how much professional supervision by a highly trained Teacher is possible? The Aides namesake (Aide) is just that. Aides focus a Special Needs Child’s attention on the curriculum provided by highly trained Educators. I would very much like to get printed materials that support this opinion.

A. Koelbel

I do not understand why a child on the spectrum needs an IEP. When something goes wrong, he is automatically to blame. Some paras are worse to deal with because many times they cannot even tell you what went wrong. (They are busy talking to others). The paras and teachers often do not know what to do when a child has a meltdown and so it becomes BAD BEHAVIOR. The parents get a letter saying that our child is behaving badly. I don’t think teachers and paras really understand autistic children. They do not treat these children well.

It’s bad enough when your classmates make fun of you. Then you get a teacher with an attitude – and its all over for your child. I took my child out of school and am homeschooling him. He is happy. At school, he was REJECTED.


I am a teacher in a TMR classroom I have a s. – c.p., visual impairment, ID, seizures- and he has an indiv aide He’s had the same aide for about 3 years, she has much info, but I’m afraid a line has been crossed? The aide has given mom her cell phone #, and calls mom 2-3 times a day from class to tell her about her son. She also writes detailed notes about the s. in a notebook everyday. Mom has bought the aide & son matching H’ween t shirts. When aide was out sick, mom called wanting the cell # of my other assist. who was helping out w/ son. Its gotten to where this aide tells me what needs to be done w/ the s. and gets huffy when I try to change it, like moving his daily PT (not IEP authorized) to our PE time, and not during instruction time. Should I try to encourage some separation, have s. work w/ other aids sometimes?


My son is in 1st grade and has had a paraprofessional included in the IEP. They call her a classroom aide indicating some of the infor you have provided regarding one on one intervention can lead to dependance. My specific question is hard to describe but a few incidences have occurred where I feel if the aide were directly observing my child the situation could have been prevented. One incidence is while standing in line a child bumps into him, knowing children with Aspergers may have difficulty decifering what is a accident vs on purpose, I feel the aide could have interviened befor my child punch the child in line behind him,,,thinking it was on purpose. My child was sent to the principal.
Could I get a clear definition of how the paraprofession may assist in the classroom with other children as well as my own, Not teaching but assist