2023 Pennsylvania Department of Education (In-Person) Conference

36. Didactic Instruction and Performance Feedback: How Should We Be Training Our Paraeducators?

Hershey Lodge and Convention Center Google Maps

Session Dates

Thursday March 02, 2023 2:15 PM - 3:15 PM - Hershey Lodge and Convention Center


With the expanding role of paraeducators, educational legislation mandates that paraeducators participate in some form of training (ESSA, 2015; NCLB, 2002), yet the parameters of such training are not specified. Further, training is generally unavailable or limited in content. Most paraeducators are the least trained individuals in the school setting, yet they work with the most difficult student population. As more school districts look to more inclusive practices, thus removing the direct supervision of the special education teacher, the impetus for highly qualified paraeducators becomes of even more importance. Additionally, with a lack of experimental research, it is unclear what guidance the research base provides on training paraeducators who support students with disabilities in inclusive settings. Research has shown that didactic instruction alone is not enough to maintain newly acquired skills, and that training packages that include performance feedback have shown promising effects. However, didactic instruction still has a strong presence within the training practices of school districts. With the overwhelmed schedules of staff in special education and with paraeducator training often overlooked, identifying which training approach is most effective may help school leaders plan professional development for paraeducators that is both meaningful and efficient. By targeting foundational positive behavior support strategies, as opposed to student-specific skills, paraeducators are better equipped to address the behavioral needs of students with a variety of disabilities. In this session, participants will learn about these prominent training approaches, the rationale for the more effective approach, and the steps for implementation.

Target Audience

General education and special education administrators and teachers, paraprofessionals, school psychologists, professional development staff, and families of students with disabilities are encouraged to attend.

Topics Covered: Special Education Law

Reasonable efforts will be made to accommodate individuals who have special needs as addressed by the Americans with Disabilities Act and who need assistance at this event. Contact: Debra Jordan at (610) 878-7224 or djordan@pattan.net.

Event Info

Event Type:



Emily Sobeck Ph.D.

Event Contact:

Content Contact:

Barbara Gilligan
(800) 441-3215 ext. 7247

Additional Info

By registering for the PDE Conference, you authorize PDE/BSE/PaTTAN to record and edit into the program and related materials your name, likeness, image, voice and participation in and performance on film, tape or otherwise for use in the above program or parts thereof. You agree that the Program may be edited and otherwise altered at the sole discretion of the producer and used in whole or in part for any and all broadcasting, non-broadcasting, audio/visual, and/or exhibition purposes in any manner or media, in perpetuity.

Inclement Weather: The conference will take place rain or shine, regardless of weather conditions.