The Comprehensive Training Opportunities for Paraeducator (Co-TOP) Model

Session Title

The Comprehensive Training Opportunities for Paraeducator (Co-TOP) Model




To conform to the new ideology of inclusion and rapidly changing societal and legal priorities and demands, the role of the paraeducator has expanded to provide direct services that include monitoring of behavior as well as individual and small group instruction (Chopra, Sandoval-Lucero, French, 2011;Chopra, 2009; Chopra & French, 2004; Davis, Kotecki, Harvey, & Oliver, 2007; Giangreco, Edelman, Broer & Doyle, 2001;; French and Pickett, 1997; Wadsworth & Knight, 1996). Most paraeducators have had little or no formal preparation for their duties. Some paraeducators receive effective supervision, guidance and mentoring; others do not. The issue of paraeducators being assigned roles for which they are not trained is further accentuated when the paraeducators work with teachers who are reluctant to supervise them and or are unprepared to work effectively with them (Chopra, Sandoval-Lucero, French, 2011; French & Chopra, 2006, Chopra & French, 2004; French and Pickett, 1997). Berceuse paraeducators are increasingly becoming an integral part of the instructional process (Chopra, Banerjee, DiPalma, Ferguson, & Merrill, 2013; Kellegrew, Pacifico-Banta, & Stewart, 2008), IDEA (2004) has required and the literature has documented that paraeducators must be adequately and appropriately trained and supervised (Bingham, Hall-Kenyon, & Culatta, 2010; Chopra, 2009; Hughes & Valle-Riestra, 2008). However quality training opportunism for paraeducators to be effective in their instructional role and for teachers to be effective in their role as supervisors are limited or non-existent (Uitto & Chopra, 2015) The presenter will share the CO-TOP model which is a coherent system for providing inservice training to currently employed but previously untrained paraeducators. The model specifically enhances the capacity of the districts to provide training to the paraeducators locally and also enhances the capacity of the licensed professionals (teachers, related service providers etc.) to become effective supervisors and trainers for the paraeducators. It first provides training for teachers and related service providers to supervise paraeducators. Then it selects school professionals to become trainers of paraeducators. Trainers provide specially designed and field-tested curricula to paraeducators in local districts. Districts maintain control over the frequency, type and amount of training provided, determine dates and locations, and recruit paraeducators to participate in training as well as other logistics. The session will also provide data that show that COTOP training leads to: • More effective performance at job by paraeducators • Increased confidence in paraeducator skills • Increased confidence among school professionals to supervise paraeducators • Assurance among all stakeholders that students are being served by qualified personnel • Retention of paraeducators • Improved teamwork and collaboration among paraeducators and teachers The session will provide an opportunity to the participants to discuss how the model works and can be adopted by others: