Para-Impact: Professional Development with Teacher-as-Coach for Paraeducators of Elementary Students with Moderate-to-Severe Developmental Disabilities

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The purpose of this project is to develop Para-Impact, a professional development package to train supervising teachers to utilize practice-based coaching (PBC) to improve paraprofessionals' implementation of systematic instruction for elementary students with moderate to severe developmental disabilities (MSDD).

Students with MSDD — including those with autism, significant intellectual disabilities, and multiple disabilities — typically require frequent and intense exposure to evidence-based practices delivered with a high degree of fidelity. However, the paraprofessionals that often serve these students receive little to no formal training in implementing evidence-based practices, such as systematic instruction, and the special education teachers with whom they work have limited experience supervising and training paraprofessionals to implement such practices.

The current project will develop Para-Impact to address this research-to-practice gap, and provide a mechanism to support teachers in training and supervising paraprofessionals in the implementation of systematic instruction for students with MSDD, with the ultimate aim of improving classroom climate and students' active engagement, academic responding, on-task behavior, and progress on individualized educational goals.

Project Details

  • Primary Investigator: Howard Wills

  • Co-Principal Investigator: Dwight Irvin

  • Co-Principal Investigator: Alana Schnitz

  • Project Start Date: 08/15/2018

  • Project Finish Date: 08/14/2021



  • Institute of Education Sciences

  • Award Number : R324A180186


Howard WillsProfessional developmentAutism and other developmental disabilitiesDwight IrvinAlana Schnitzprojects