Title page for ETD etd-82597-22506

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Cramer, Margaret M. Jr.
Author's Email Address mcramer@vt.edu
URN etd-82597-22506
Title Factors Influencing The Tasks Performed By Paraprofessionals In Elementary Inclusive Classrooms
Degree PhD
Department Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
McGrady, Harold J. Committee Chair
Carlton, Patrick W. Committee Member
Dawson, Christina M. Committee Member
Fortune, Jimmie C. Committee Member
McGrady, Harold J. Committee Member
Radcliffe, Patricia Committee Member
  • Paraprofessionals
  • Inclusion
  • Tasks
  • Training Implications
Date of Defense 1997-08-29
Availability restricted
Factors Influencing The Tasks Performed By Paraprofessionals

In Elementary Inclusive Classrooms


Margaret M. Cramer

Dr. Harold McGrady and Dr. Christina M. Dawson, Co-Chairs

Administration and Supervision of Special Education


Although there has been a phenomenal growth in the

utilization of paraprofessionals in inclusive classrooms in

recent years, few researchers have addressed key issues

surrounding role changes. A review of the literature

indicated a need for additional research in the areas of

efficacy of utilization, identification of task assignments,

and development of training programs for teachers and


Often special education and general education teachers

are given the responsibility of determining what tasks will

be performed by paraprofessionals without receiving guidelines

or supervisory training. The purposes of this project were

to determine what factors influenced the decisions made about

task assignments for paraprofessionals and to ascertain what

training programs would be appropriate and helpful.

Subjects included in this study were the special

education teachers, general education teachers, and

paraprofessionals serving students in five, elementary

inclusive classes in three school divisions in Virginia. Two

observations were conducted in each class to identify the

tasks performed by paraprofessionals. The general education

teachers, the special education teachers, and the

paraprofessionals working in each selected class were

interviewed for information about their perceptions of

paraprofessional task assignments. Other characteristics

that might influence decision-making were examined by

collecting demographic information on background, education,

and training. Tasks performed by paraprofessionals were

categorized by using a competency level checklist adapted

from a list developed by Pickett (1994). Competency levels

were : Level I (Teacher Aide), Level II (Instructional

Assistant), and Level III (Assistant Teacher).

Observations conducted in the three school divisions

revealed that paraprofessionals usually performed Level II

tasks. These tasks involved providing assistance with mobility

issues, self-help needs, on task behavior, and assisting with

individual programs of study. During the interviews

paraprofessionals stated that they did not receive credit for

their abilities nor did they receive personal respect. Both

teachers and paraprofessionals expressed a desire for more

collaborative planning time; paraprofessionals desired more

specific training, especially on medical and legal issues.

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