Demand for highly effective, qualified teachers grew as legislation such as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) raised the requirements for teachers and paraprofessionals. One suggestion for meeting this demand for teachers who can bring about the required classroom outcomes is to encourage paraprofessionals to become certified teachers—with the expectation that paraprofessionals' prior experience in the school environment will make them likely to excel as teachers. This study examined whether Brigham Young University Special Education teacher candidates with paraprofessional experience differed from candidates without paraprofessional experience in terms of performance scores during a mentored teaching practicum. The teaching skills of classroom and behavior management, teacher competency and knowledge, and professionalism and organization were measured through the scores earned by 37 candidates on their behavior management plans, math and reading lesson plans, and professionalism evaluations. Results indicated no significant difference between candidates with and without prior paraprofessional experience. However, a significant difference was found between the scores in the areas of reading and math lesson plans of the students who were and were not paraprofessionals prior to entering the program. The variance in the scores of the paraprofessionals was significant, meaning some students with paraprofessional background scored low and others scored high in these two areas.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





paraprofessional educators, teacher training, Special Education, teaching skills