Avoiding the "Velcro Effect" Determining When a Student Requires Paraeducator Support


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Avoiding the "Velcro Effect" Determining When a Student Requires Paraeducator Support by Patricia H. Mueller, Ed.D. from the 2009 National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals Conference.

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Avoiding the "Velcro Effect" Determining When a Student Requires Paraeducator Support

  1. 1. Patricia H. Mueller, Ed.D. National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals Conference April 30, 2009 Avoiding the “Velcro Effect” Determining When a Student Requires Paraeducator Support Evergreen Educational Consulting LLC
  2. 2. Participant Outcomes for this Session <ul><li>Learn about… </li></ul><ul><li>key research findings that show 1:1 paraeducator support can have unintended detrimental effects. </li></ul><ul><li>effective & proven protocols designed to help IEP teams determine whether paraeducator support is necessary for a student’s success. </li></ul><ul><li>training activities that address the “Velcro” effect. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Beth’s Story <ul><li>When my daughter, Beth, started high school, the school personnel insisted she have a full-time paraprofessional, presumably because she has Down syndrome. It was a battle I wasn’t willing to fight, so I agreed to it even though I felt it wasn’t needed. </li></ul><ul><li>Freshman year this arrangement worked out reasonably well. The paraprofessional was a young woman, not much older than Beth. She was skilled at giving her room and knowing when to back off. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>During Beth’s sophomore year, this paraprofessional was replaced by one who was on her like Velcro®! </li></ul><ul><li>She was always telling Beth what to do, insisting she leave class early, and generally making a spectacle of their interactions. It wasn’t long before Beth reacted uncharacteristically. </li></ul><ul><li>Beth ran away from the paraprofessional, called her names, even left school and went home. Though Beth’s communication wasn’t socially desirable, her intent was clear; but no one seemed to be listening. </li></ul><ul><li>A month or so into the year, after this second paraprofessional quit, Beth’s team met to decide what would happen next. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>When asked, Beth said she “...didn’t like being bossed” and “... didn’t want an aide.” Her request was honored; </li></ul><ul><li>Beth didn’t have an individual paraprofessional for the rest of high school. The problem behaviors disappeared, and with no intermediary between her and the teachers, Beth was more academically connected. </li></ul><ul><li>It made me feel even more strongly that we need to involve students in determining their own [need for] supports. ( Beth’s Mother) </li></ul><ul><li>(Giangreco et. al., 2005 ) </li></ul>
  6. 7. Benefits of Paraeducator Support <ul><li>Paraeducators can… </li></ul><ul><li>Do clerical tasks that free teachers to spend more time instructing students. </li></ul><ul><li>Engage in follow-up instruction, tutoring, or homework help. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide supervision in group settings. </li></ul><ul><li>Assist students with personal care needs. </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitate social skills, peer interactions, and positive behavior support plans . </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(Giangreco et. al., 2005) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 8. Reasons to be Concerned About 1:1 Supports <ul><li>The least qualified staff members are assigned to students with the most challenges. </li></ul><ul><li>Paraeducator supports may have unintended or inadvertent detrimental outcomes. </li></ul><ul><li>1:1 paraeducator supports are linked to lower levels of teacher involvement. </li></ul>
  8. 9. Least Qualified with the Most Challenges <ul><li>Paraeducators often provide a high level of instruction. </li></ul><ul><li>Paraeducators self-report having to “fend for themselves.” </li></ul><ul><li>Paraeducators report receiving little or no training to perform instructional roles. </li></ul><ul><li>Would it be acceptable for students in general education programs to receive instruction from staff members with little or no training? </li></ul>
  9. 10. Inadvertent Detrimental Effects
  10. 11. Detrimental Effects Cont’d <ul><li>Limited access to competent instruction (paraeducators lack necessary skills or knowledge base) </li></ul><ul><li>Interference with teacher engagement (teacher assumes student is already receiving individual attention) </li></ul><ul><li>Loss of personal control (paraeducators do for students vs. allowing student to make choices) </li></ul><ul><li>Loss of gender identity (e.g., a male student taken to a female bathroom because the paraeducator is female) </li></ul><ul><li>May provoke problem behaviors (some students express their dislike of paraeducator support by displaying inappropriate behaviors) </li></ul><ul><li>(Giangreco et. al., 2005) </li></ul>
  11. 12. Why Paraeducators Assume Responsibility? <ul><li>Ensuring that the student is not being a “bother” to the teacher. </li></ul><ul><li>To meet student’s immediate academic needs. </li></ul><ul><li>They are perceived as the “hub” or the “expert.” </li></ul><ul><li>They are the face of “inclusion.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Marks et. al., 1999) </li></ul>
  12. 14. How to avoid the negative outcomes… <ul><li>By implementing effective and proven protocols designed to help IEP teams determine whether paraeducator support is necessary for a student’s success. </li></ul>
  13. 15. Paraeducator Increases: Effects at a Local Level <ul><li>Lack of time & ability to provide necessary supervision </li></ul><ul><li>Decrease in communication between general & special educators (paraeducator = mediator) </li></ul><ul><li>Increased dependency on paraeducators (Ele. to MS to HS) </li></ul><ul><li>Paraeducator seen as a “band aid” </li></ul><ul><li>Decrease in natural and peer supports </li></ul><ul><li>Increase in parental requests for paraeducator support </li></ul><ul><li>Paraeducator role confusion: tutor vs. change agent facilitating peer and adult interactions </li></ul><ul><li>Paraeducator increase = cost increase </li></ul>
  14. 16. Planning Process Instruments (Mueller & Murphy) <ul><li>Intensive Needs Checklist: provides an overview of student’s needs in relation to the classroom environment. </li></ul><ul><li>Student’s Abilities & Assistance Needs Matrix: focuses on what the student can/can’t do and the extent of assistance needed. </li></ul><ul><li>Plan for Paraeducator Assistance: identifies where, when and how para will provide support and encourage independence. </li></ul>
  15. 17. July/August 2001 Article
  16. 18. Benefits and Effects (Mueller & Murphy) <ul><li>Overwhelming support from special & general educators. </li></ul><ul><li>Intentional focus on the student’s needs (e.g., promoting independence, enhancing peer relations). </li></ul><ul><li>Increased awareness of the roles of those involved with the student (general & special educators, peers, paraeducators, family members). </li></ul><ul><li>Explicitly shows when & where paraeducator support is necessary. </li></ul><ul><li>Process and instruments helped to clarify the roles & responsibilities of paraeducators. </li></ul><ul><li>Result was increased accountability & the budget spiral ended. </li></ul>
  17. 19. Caliso Planning Process <ul><li>Data based assessment tool for initial decision-making; used by multi-disciplinary team. </li></ul><ul><li>Typically used with students who have mild disabilities whose parents are requesting paraeducator support. </li></ul><ul><li>Process includes observations of student’s self-regulatory skills measured by attending to task. </li></ul><ul><li>Published product includes manual, observation instrument and a case illustration. </li></ul>
  18. 20. Anecdotal Results (Caliso) <ul><li>In approximately 20 cases, teams decided either not to provide paraeducator support or a part-time paraeducator was recommended where “the data pointed to the need.” </li></ul><ul><li>Process has deterred hiring of full-time paraeducators in many cases, especially in with Pre-K students transitioning from Part C to Part B where parents were requesting paraeducator support. </li></ul><ul><li>For more information contact: John Caliso at: [email_address] . </li></ul>
  19. 21. LA Unified School District (2004) <ul><li>One to one assistants are called Temporary Support Assistants (TSA). </li></ul><ul><li>Statistics: 86,000 students with disabilities, 8,000 paraeducators, 4,000 TSAs. </li></ul><ul><li>Increase in TSAs was not correlated with an increase in students in general education classrooms. </li></ul><ul><li>Increased demand for TSAs from special educators to provide behavioral support in special classes. </li></ul><ul><li>Increase in demand for TSAs from schools to boost numbers, parents and general educators. </li></ul>
  20. 22. LAUSD Guidelines for Determining TSA <ul><li>IEP team completes a “Supplementary Services Review for TSA” form. </li></ul><ul><li>Form includes decision-making flowcharts for Health, Behavior and Academic Concerns. </li></ul><ul><li>If the need for TSA support is documented using the flowcharts, the team develops goals to increase independence. </li></ul><ul><li>The IEP includes criteria to judge the effectiveness of continuing the TSA at the end of 3 months. </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasis is on the level of support needed vs. the needs of the teachers or parents. </li></ul>
  21. 23. LAUSD Guidelines (2008) <ul><li>No longer called TSAs, now is called AA (Adult Assistance). </li></ul><ul><li>“ ‘ Adult Assistance’ is not an assistant/trainee position assigned to a student.” </li></ul><ul><li>Support provided in behavior & health. Flow charts are no longer used. </li></ul><ul><li>FBA is completed for student needing behavioral support. Analysis of school’s resources may be conducted by LRE Specialist. </li></ul><ul><li>School nurse provides student level of performance for health care support. </li></ul><ul><li>Schools maintain matrix of all AAs & assignments. </li></ul>
  22. 25. Activities to Encourage Independence
  23. 26. Levels of Support <ul><li>Transitional: Support is only needed on a temporary basis. </li></ul><ul><li>Low: Support is always available, but not needed on a regular basis. </li></ul><ul><li>Medium: Support is necessary on a regular basis. </li></ul><ul><li>High: Support is absolutely necessary for the student to learn and must be provided consistently. </li></ul>
  24. 27. Norman Kunc <ul><li>Credo for Support </li></ul>
  25. 28. Key References & Resources <ul><li>Caliso, J. Personal Communication (3/23/09). </li></ul><ul><li>Giangreco, M. F., Yuan, S., McKenzie, B., Cameron, P., & Fialka, J. (2005). “Be careful what you wish for….”: Five reasons to be concerned about the assignment of individual paraprofessionals. Teaching Exceptional Children, 37 (5), 28-34 . </li></ul><ul><li>Marks, S. U., Schrader, C., & Levine, M. (1999). Paraeducator experiences in inclusive settings: Helping, hovering, or holding their own? Exceptional Children, 65, 315–328. </li></ul><ul><li>  Mueller, P.H. & Murphy, F.V. (2001). Determining when a student requires paraeducator support. Teaching Exceptional Children, 33 , (6 ), 22-27. </li></ul><ul><li>Weintraub, F. & Jacque-Anton, D. (2004, April. ). Determining Temporary Support Assistance. Paper presented at the annual Council for Exceptional Children Conference, New Orleans, LA. </li></ul>
  26. 29. Contact Information <ul><li>To Access the Power Point: </li></ul><ul><li>www.eecvt.com : NRCP Presentation 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>Patricia H. Mueller, Ed.D. </li></ul><ul><li> Evergreen Educational Consulting, LLC </li></ul><ul><li> 16 Bradley Bow Rd. </li></ul><ul><li>Jericho, VT 05465 </li></ul><ul><li> [email_address] (802) 434-5607 </li></ul>