Strengthening Children's Lives Through Science and Community Engagement

Improving paraprofessionals instructional and behavioral support in urban Elementary school settings: A Research Practitioner Partnership

Paraprofessionals are often the frontline to academic and behavior support for students with disabilities and are essential for optimizing the outcomes for those students most at-risk for academic failure therefore the level of paraprofessional competence can greatly impact the educational accomplishments of these students. Despite this, little evidence exists regarding specific training needs or efficacious training mechanisms to ensure delivery of effective instructional and behavior management practices. The JGCP –Kansas City Kansas Public School (KCKPS) Partnership is committed to improving paraprofessionals’ capacity to deliver evidence based practices with procedural integrity. Thus, the partnership will (1) Identify the perceived level of knowledge, range of responsibilities, time use, and training needs of elementary paraprofessionals currently employed by KCKPS; (2) Evaluate the extent to which paraprofessionals are implementing effective instructional practices and how this correlates with outcomes; and (3) Test the effectiveness of training protocols addressing identified areas of need. This will be accomplished through survey methods, direct observation, focus groups, and pilot testing of proposed training methods to address targeted skills.  

Initial Analyses: Descriptive statistics will be used to summarize item level responses to surveys. Chi-square analyses will be conducted to examine differences in job-related tasks associated with setting, paraprofessional, and student level variables. Correlations will be used to determine the relationship between how often paraprofessionals perform (e.g., daily vs. yearly) a given task and how prepared they feel in executing a given task. Additionally multiple regression analysis will be used to examine how years of experience, classroom type, student disability incidence, perceived teacher support (e.g., co-planning) and training received predict paraprofessional perceived levels of knowledge. For the observation study, micro-level, conditional probabilities of paraprofessional behavior and focal child behavior given ecological arrangements within and across observations will be calculated. Correlations will be used to determine the relationship of paraprofessional self-report knowledge of evidence-based instructional practices and actual use of these practices during reading and math activities. Poisson regression analysis will be used to determine if the total amount of evidence-based instructional practices used is related to teacher support, training and overall knowledge, paraprofessional years of experience, classroom type, setting, academic activity, and student disability incidence. Pilot studies, utilizing single-case design, will be analyzed using a combination of visual and statistical analysis to evaluate the functional relationship between the partnership training model and paraprofessional implementation of targeted skill. Differences between baseline and intervention in terms of variability, mean shifts, trend, and stability will be visually evaluated as well as overlap of data, “immediacy of effect”, and data similarities across series. Tau effect size will be calculated for each series in the MBD studies. 


Congratulations to doctoral student Anna Wallisch, the second recipient of the Vance & Marilyn Hall GRA Award! Anna…