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Determining Paraprofessional Support for a Student Post 1-8

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

Every school within the United States is required to provide a full continuum of placement options for students with identified disabilities who are receiving special education services. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and its regulations describe a continuum of placements such as instruction in regular classes, special classes, special schools, home instruction, and instruction in hospitals and institutions (CFR 300.551 (b) (1)).

The IDEA also defines related services as the utilization of aids, services, and other supports provided in regular education classes or different education-related settings to enable children with disabilities to be educated with non-disabled children to the maximum extent appropriate. This applies to any general education program or special education program in which the student may participate (34 CFR Part 300.550-300.556). There may be special circumstances when a student may need additional support to succeed in their educational placement.

A goal for any student with special needs is to encourage, promote, and maximize independence. The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team is responsible for developing and implementing a program that supports that independence. Natural support and existing staff support should be used whenever possible.

If the IEP team is considering a paraprofessional as a support for the classroom staff, the team must determine:

1. Natural supports and/or existing staff supports are not adequate for the student to participate and progress in the general education program;

2. Additional support is necessary to assist classroom staff in facilitating the student in the:

  • Advancing appropriately toward the annual goals and/or;

  • Involvement in and progress in the general curriculum and/or;

  • Participation in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities and/or;

  • Participation with other disabled and non-disabled students.

3. How quickly it anticipates the support can be faded and develops a systematic evaluation method toward independence and more natural support.

If the IEP team recommends a paraprofessional, the team is also responsible for monitoring so that additional support may be faded as soon as possible. Additional instructional aide support can unintentionally foster dependence if not monitored and evaluated regularly.

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