The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

James Johnson

Second Advisor

John Eller

Third Advisor

David Lund

Fourth Advisor

Heidi Hahn

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Paraprofessionals, Special Education, Inclusive, Minnesota, Special Education Students, Preparedness


The first study conducted on the use of paraprofessionals was done by a man name Cruickshank in 1957. According to Cruickshank in 1957 the classroom paraprofessional (teacher assistant) role was defined as; assisting with tasks that were of non-teaching duties to relieve the teacher, so the teacher could assist the students more in-depth (Cruickshank, [c1957], p. 9). Then in 2010 Giangreco stated that “over the past several decades, the number of special education paraprofessional’s has steadily grown and their roles have become increasingly instructional” (Giangreco, 2010, p. 2).

In examining the role of paraprofessionals Giangreco et al found that “Paraprofessionals continue to engage in a broad range of role, many of which they are under trained or insufficiently trained to perform” (Giangreco et al., 2001, p. 53). Brock and Carter (2013) found that when paraprofessionals are given the opportunity for training on evidence-based practices, they can follow through with the information and help provide positive outcomes for students with disabilities (p. 217). According to Brock and Carter (2015) a concern for the work of paraprofessionals is that, more often than not, paraprofessionals are provided with stand-alone training on special education topics, of which many paraprofessionals receiving this training have no prior training (p. 48). “Descriptive studies suggest that without strong training, paraprofessionals support does not appear to improve the learning outcomes of students with disabilities and may hinder them” (Brock & Carter, 2015, p. 40).

Many of the researchers discuss what the roles of paraprofessionals are, that they have received inadequate training, but do not have the perspective from those who are actually working in these roles. The purpose of this study is to solicit the level of preparedness, job responsibilities, training received and best practices of paraprofessionals to work in an inclusive setting with special education students. Inclusive or inclusion means that a student who qualifies for special education has a certain amount of time that is spent in the general education classroom. Paraprofessionals may be assigned to a student or a specific class to help support the needs of special education students to successfully participate in the general education classroom. Some paraprofessionals may come into their roles with some educational background, often they may only have a high school diploma. The only training, they may receive when entering the field is the training provided by the school district.



This doctoral journey has been one that has been trying at times, but so rewarding to know what I am able to push through and overcome. I would not have gotten this far if it were not for the support of so many people along the way.

I want to thank my professors and committee members for the support throughout my coursework. Your time and feedback have been appreciated. More specifically, a thank you to my committee chair and advisor Dr. James Johnson. Without your push, guidance, and reassurance I would not have completed as much as I have. You not only supported my growth through the writing process, you also rode along with me in my emotional roller coaster, and for that I am so thankful to have had your support.

I also want to thank all of my classmates in cohort 10. We bonded so well and always lifted each other up. You provided the motivation to keep moving and to continue on the timeline that I had established.

A thank you to my family and friends for supporting me, and having an understanding of the times when I have had to say no to events or gatherings, and for always having my back. A special thank you to my Aunt Marcia for getting me started in my college journey, and being my advisor through my early college days.

Finally, my most grateful appreciation goes to my husband Corey. I would not have taken this next step in my education if it was not for your support and dedication. You helped me work through all of the difficult processes and never stopped believing in me. Your love and support of me is the reason I am where I am at today.

Lauren_Whiteford_Dissertation.docx (587 kB)
Approved Copy without personal information



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.