An exploration of paraprofessional utilization in the good spirit school division
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An Exploration of Paraprofessional Utilization in the Good Spirit School Division. Where are we now? How do we presently employ paraprofessionals throughout the division? Building capacities and skills of paraprofessionals through orientation & training.

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An Exploration of Paraprofessional Utilization in the Good Spirit School Division

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Exploring our use of educational assistants eas within the gssd

Where are we now? How do we presently employ paraprofessionals throughout the division?

Building capacities and skills of paraprofessionals through orientation & training.

Exploring our use of Educational Assistants (EAs) within the GSSD


Student services goal

SUPPORT OF EAs: paraprofessionals throughout the division?

SMART GOAL:

By June 2013, GSSD will increase our efficient use of Educational Assistants as measured by GIANGRECO (2003) 16 item tool for the efficient use of EAs

Student Services Goal


School based screening to determine overreliance on paraprofessionals giangreco 2003
School-based Screening to Determine Overreliance on Paraprofessionals (Giangreco, 2003)

  • This article describes the development of and directions for using a 16-item screening tool designed to assist school teams in determining the extent to which they may be over reliant on paraprofessionals or using them inappropriately.

  • Scores are collated into quadrants of concern:

    • Proximity,

    • Resource Allocation,

    • Teacher Ownership, &

    • Independence


First quadrant indicators of excessive proximity
First Quadrant: Indicators of Excessive Proximity Paraprofessionals (Giangreco, 2003)

  • Students with special/intensive learning needs spend most of their time in close proximity to paraprofessionals.

  • Students with special/intensive learning needs are physically separated within the classroom to work with a paraprofessional.

  • Students with special/intensive learning needs spend time with a paraprofessional that would typically be spent with peers.

  • Students with special/intensive learning needs communicate through their language or behaviour that they find the support of a paraprofessional stigmatizing or otherwise unwanted.


Quadrant 2 questionable resource allocation or instructional role mismatches
Quadrant 2: Questionable Resource Allocation or Instructional Role Mismatches

  • Students with special learning needs receive their primary instruction from paraprofessionals when SSTs do paperwork or manage the activities of paraprofessionals.

  • Paraprofessionals provide academic support in subjects where they are under- or unskilled.

  • Teachers spend time doing clerical tasks while paraprofessionals are teaching lessons to students with special learning needs.


Quadrant 3 insufficient teacher ownership engagement
Quadrant 3: Insufficient Teacher Ownership & Engagement Instructional Role Mismatches

  • Paraprofessionals or classroom teachers are unfamiliar with PPP goals or curricular content for the students with special learning needs in their classroom.

  • Classroom teachers are minimally or superficially involved with students with special learning needs in their classrooms.

  • Paraprofessionals have more frequent communication and more developed working relationships with parents of students with special learning needs than teachers.

  • At progress reporting times, teachers rely on paraprofessionals because they know more about the students with special learning needs.


Quadrant 4 dependence on paraprofessionals or inappropriate autonomy
Quadrant 4: Dependence on Paraprofessionals or Inappropriate Autonomy

  • Paraprofessionals make curricular or instructional decisions, or make adaptations without teacher oversight.

  • Students with special/intensive learning needs are unnecessarily dependent on paraprofessionals.

  • The absence of a paraprofessional results in either (a) a “lost day” at school for a student with special/intensive learning needs, (b) the student staying home from school.

  • Paraprofessionals operate with virtually unrestricted autonomy.


Why do we care
Why do we care? Autonomy

  • Overreliance of paraprofessionals as one-to-one supports for individuals with special/intensive learning needs, can lead to a wide range of inadvertent detrimental effects (Broer, Doyle & Giangreco, 2005). Specifically, one-to-one supports are associated with:

    • Isolation within the classroom (e.g. seated in the back or side of the room)

    • Insular relationships between students and paraprofessionals

    • Unnecessary dependence

    • Interference with peer interactions

    • Stigmatization

    • Limited access to professional instruction

    • Interference with teacher engagement

    • Loss of personal control or choices available to same-age peers

    • Provocation of behaviour problems.


Results
Results Autonomy

  • All schools were asked to complete the survey approximately 2 years ago.

  • Participants:

    • Total Schools: 22/28

    • Total Staff: 452 (62 surveys were incomplete and removed from further analysis)

    • Total Number of Professionals who completed the survey: 278

    • Total Number of Paraprofessionals who completed the survey: 117


Professional participants
Professional Participants Autonomy

  • Of the professionals who completed the survey, 243/278 (87%) reported working directly with an EA in the past 2 years.

  • Over these 2 years, the average number of paraprofessionals that the professionals reported working with was 3.33.


Paraprofessional participants

Number of paraprofessionals reporting that they were allocated to work with individual students was 66/117.

Number of paraprofessionals reporting that they were allocated to work with a program or group was 70/117.

Please note that paraprofessionals could one or both options.

Paraprofessional Participants


Reported time distribution
Reported Time Distribution allocated to work with


Reported time distribution1

Results reveal that the majority of paraprofessional time is spent implementing instruction (~50% of the time) followed by addressing behavioural concerns (~15% of the time).

This is interesting as a review of GSSD requests for paraprofessional support indicates that behaviour is the primary area of impact for which the team is requesting additional support.

Reported Time Distribution



Results1
Results schools or elementary schools?

  • Minor trends were indicated.

    • Specifically it appears that paraprofessionals report increased time spent on personal care for individuals in elementary vs. high school.

    • Paraprofessionals also report spending less time addressing behavioural concerns in high school vs. elementary school.

    • Paraprofessionals also report spending more time implementing instruction as students enter high school.

    • It is interesting to note that responses from teachers do not show such variability in reporting.


An exploration of paraprofessional utilization in the good spirit school division
Estimated Time Paraprofessionals Spent in Close Proximity (< 3 feet) from student with special learning needs.


An exploration of paraprofessional utilization in the good spirit school division

Estimated Time Paraprofessionals Spent in Close Proximity (< 3 feet) from student with special learning needs from elementary to high school


Quadrant results
Quadrant Results 3 feet) from student with special learning needs from elementary to high school

  • Survey results were also broken down into 4 quadrants of concern:

    • Excessive Proximity

    • Questionable Resource Allocation

    • Insufficient teacher ownership and engagement

    • Dependence on paraprofessionals

  • Please note that scores above 3.5 indicate an area of concern.


  • Quadrant results by profession
    Quadrant Results by Profession 3 feet) from student with special learning needs from elementary to high school


    Quadrant results by profession1
    Quadrant Results by Profession 3 feet) from student with special learning needs from elementary to high school

    • According to Giangreco and Broer (2003), all quadrants indicated an over-reliance on paraprofessionals. The only area not of concern was the rating of questionable allocation of resources by paraprofessionals.

    • Professionals rated the following two quadrants as highest:

      • Dependence on paraprofessionals.

      • Questionable allocation of resources

  • Paraprofessionals rated the following two quadrants as highest:

    • Insufficient teacher ownership and engagement

    • Dependence on paraprofessionals


  • What can we do
    What can we do? 3 feet) from student with special learning needs from elementary to high school

    • We need to utilize paraprofessional supports in responsible ways. Specifically this means that:

      • Instruction by paraprofessionals:

        • should be supplemental, rather than primary or exclusive

        • should be planned by qualified personnel

        • Should be based on explicit and intensive training in research-supported, best practices

        • Should be followed by on-going supervision

        • Non-instructional roles for paraprofessionals (e.g. clerical, materials preparation, personal care) should be acknowledged and valued as important contributions to enable teachers to spend time with students.


    What can we do1
    What can we do? 3 feet) from student with special learning needs from elementary to high school

    • We need to utilize paraprofessional supports in responsible ways by:

      • Facilitating peer interactions and other natural supports

      • Involving students in making decisions about their own supports

      • Exploring less restrictive options to using 1:1 paraprofessional supports.

      • Exploring ways to fade 1:1 supports

      • Having and refining a process for making decisions about 1:1 professional supports.

      • Exploring alternatives (resource reallocation, co-teaching, transitional use of paraprofessionals, peer supports)

        Giangreco, 2009


    What can we do2
    What can we do? 3 feet) from student with special learning needs from elementary to high school

    • To meet these ends, we need to continue to train all staff in the roles and responsibilities of both paraprofessionals and professionals when working with all children. This includes:

      • Providing appropriate training on working with paraprofessionals. One way we propose achieving this is through our Teacher and EA Module (TEAM) digital orientation package that will work to orient and train both teachers and paraprofessionals on effective practices to support all learners.

      • Awareness of our present practice is the first step to fostering a change in practice.

      • Following the development of TEAM, its introduction and use, we anticipate re-assessing our division’s reliance on paraprofessionals.


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