(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.