Paraprofessionals support teachers and students in the classroom. Their roles and responsibilities vary; however, their goal is always to improve student achievement. The purpose of the study was to fill a gap in the literature related to special education paraprofessionals’ perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs on the support and trainings they receive prior to and during their job as a paraprofessional for students in a special education setting. Generic qualitative methodology was used to capture the thoughts, experience, and perceptions of 42 paraprofessionals across the United States. Data collection included an eight-question online questionnaire. Results of the study revealed five patterns including (a) paraprofessionals are coming in with some training, (b) their ongoing training is not always consistent, (c) the biggest areas of struggle are addressing challenging behavior, (d) their education does not always prepare them for the responsibilities in the classroom, and (e) further support is needed for them to fulfil their responsibilities. After further analysis and synthesis, the five patterns were then condensed into two overarching themes which included paraprofessional training deficits and need for behavior support training. These findings are significant to school leaders and educators in order to properly support paraprofessionals in their roles of ensuring student learning and success.


paraprofessional, special education, autism, qualitative research design, generic qualitative research, education

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Chana S. Max is an instructional leader, professor of psychology, faculty-led researcher, and course designer at Capella University. Her passion and drive for evidence- based practices encourages her ongoing pursuit of research to expand knowledge in the field of education and psychology. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to shiffyjay@gmail.com.

Dr. Keisha McCoy-Dailey is a dynamic leader in the field of education. As a leader of a school for students with disabilities for over 13 years, she has seen students go from struggling academically to receiving awards and achieving mastery levels. Dr. McCoy-Dailey is also a professor of education at Brooklyn College, where she shares her expertise and experiences in the field with her students. Please direct correspondence to keeshee34@gmail.com

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.