1 on 1 Paraprofessional {making the call}

Categories: Interventions | Resources

To 1 on 1 or not to 1 on 1… that is the question. I have received a few emails lately inquiring about the difference and decision making behind a dedicated paraprofessional. This is a tricky grey area situation and something I am dealing with right now. There are a lot of a things to consider when deciding if a dedicated paraprofessional is the right decision and then (depending on your district) you may need to go out and do some heavy duty advocating.

Things to consider regarding a dedicated paraprofessional:

Frequency of Negative Behaviors: First off – how often are negative behaviors occurring that would require the support of a dedicated aide? Take frequency data.

Magnitude of Negative Behaviors: How dangerous are these behaviors? Has the student, others students, or staff been injured? Document all injuries in a thorough way. Use any required forms by your district. How many staff members does it take to deal with these negative behaviors? How long does it take for the student to calm down/rejoin class? These are important to consider because you want to consider who staff’s time allocation is effecting the other students in the class. Are other students missing out on academic/IEP related work?

Interventions that have worked: What interventions have had success (even minor or temporary)? It helps to show that you have some idea of how to use the dedicated paraprofessional if you were to get it.

Skill Acquisition: Although with behavior interventions, be prepared to  detail how a dedicated aide would advance the learning of this students. How would the aide assist in running IEP related programs, generalize mastered skills, or increase communication opportunities?

Classroom Size: Unfortunately class size greatly effects this decision. Whether right or wrong – there are some behaviors that are far more manageable in a class of 6 versus a class of 13.

Current Classroom Dynamic: Do you have other high needs students? Do you have students that are a trigger for this student? I am currently struggling with one student because we also have a student who is not toilet trained and dealing with the high frequency aggression combined with toileting a 14 year is become unmanageable. My other students are really missing out on instructional time. 

Plan for Fading: This is what most people forget about. I know it’s crazy but put your super optimistic hat on figure out what criteria would the student need to meet to no longer require a dedicated aide.

Parent Opinion/Involvement: Hate to say it but usually a parent’s voice is louder than the teacher’s. What are the parent’s opinions on a dedicated aide? Can they assist in advocating for their child?


… okay so you have made the decision that you think a one on one paraprofessional is the way to go. Now it’s time to use all that data you’ve been taking! Make that data talk and have it prove your case! Every school district is different and process, difficulty, and paperwork is going to vary greatly among each of your classes. The thing that remains constant is the data. Data will be important everywhere is a concrete way to illustrate your level of need. Regardless of your district – data will help you prove what is best for this student.

Here are some samples of types data I have utilized in this process: 

Data on aggression, dropping, and elopment. This data was also charting together on an additional graph and that graph was compared with interventions that had been utilized, student’s menstruation cycle, and amount of staff attention on each day.


List of each intervention utilized; organized by data of implementation. The results of each intervention are explained and relevant data that occurred following intervention implementation is listed as well.


I have also included things such as staff schedules (including all schedule revisions to illustrate the need for extension accommodation for the student), other student data (if there are decreases in other students IEP data or to show changes in frequency of IEP skill programming for other students), and sometimes anecdotal accounts from a variety of staff members. In general, I steer away from anecdotal because it’s much more subjective but sometimes it can be useful.



  1. I hate to sound stupid but what is dropping? Is it dropping onto the floor? This is a very informative article; thank you!

  2. was this published anywhere besides this site? In a journal?

  3. My 8 year old has had the same aide for 3 years and they have an incredible bond. He’s made amazing progress. This year the school moved her out of the special needs room because they “normally change assignments every 2 years.” I worry that his progress is going to be slowed and that although he can’t stay with her forever, his development is going to suffer over an arbitrary policy. Do you think it’s important for him to learn to make this transition or that their bond and familiarity is important in his progress?

  4. I see both sides! I think sometimes kids get too reliant on a specific aide and it’s good for them to learn to work with other people and generalize their skills. On the other hand, the aide he has had already knows him really well and can likely teach him new skills more quickly because she is very familiar with this learning styles. It definitely sounds like an arbitrary policy but may actually help your child in the long run if he learns to work with more people. I would be asking a lot of questions about how the new aide will be trained, what the transition plan is for switching aides, and how you can keep tabs on his data and skill progression with the new aide to make sure he is maintaining progress. Hope this helps!


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