The ParaPro Assessment: Paraprofessional Certification

Overview of the ParaPro Assessment

Paraprofessional educators satisfy a crucial role in supporting both students and teachers from inside and outside of the classroom environment. A paraprofessional’s responsibilities tend to vary depending on the state, school district, and students within a school. Example responsibilities for a paraprofessional include the following: assisting students with physical or learning disabilities, assisting with the classroom curriculum, or providing administrative support for teachers. In many cases, they may provide one-on-one assistance for students, who require extra support comprehending material. They are an essential part of the educational team, either by providing individualized services or helping an entire classroom.

Due to the complex and involved nature of the position, many jurisdictions require that educational paraprofessionals be highly qualified for the role. Many prospective and practicing paraprofessionals take the ParaPro assessment, which measures the essential skills necessary to function and work as a paraprofessional.

The ParaPro assessment includes reading, writing, and math, while also assessing the individuals ability to apply these skills when helping with classroom instruction. The exam was intended to satisfy the requirements of the No  Child Left Behind Act of 2002. Further, it is required that paraprofessionals have one of three qualifications:

  • An associate of arts degree
  • Two (2) years of college
  • A passing score on the district’s choice of assessment that demonstrates that the individual has the knowledge to assist in teaching reading, writing, and mathematics

 

Completing the ParaPro assessment is critical in showcasing the skill-sets necessary to work in the school setting. More importantly, it demonstrates to your employer that you are qualified for work as a paraprofessional. Due to the competitive nature of this field, it may help to distinguish an individual among many other candidates. Both schools, as well as parents, want to feel confident that they are hiring the most qualified individuals to be working with their students. Included below is a table of a few different areas of focus for paraprofessionals and their salaries. It is important to note that the salary is dependent upon the school system, as well as the state salary scales. These values are from the 2019 year.

CareerNational AverageAnnual High
Paraprofessional$31,977$53,500
Special Education Paraprofessional$29,073$35,500
Substitute Paraprofessional$23,811$27,500

What Can I Expect to See on the ParaPro Exam?

Many of you may be wondering who is eligible to complete the ParaPro assessment. Individuals of all ages and educational backgrounds can complete the assessment exam. There is a $55 fee to take the exam. Still, it is important to recognize that the individual’s local school system may require additional employment qualifications. The ParaPro assessment is a timed test and usually takes 2.5 hours to complete. You will be presented with multiple questions on a computer.

Below are other possible question types that may be encountered:

  • Multiple-choice, in which you choose more then one answer
  • Questions that require numeric answer to be typed into a box
  • Questions that require clicking on sentences in a reading passage
  • Questions that require you to drag answers from one spot to another
  • Questions that require you to choose the answer from a drop-down menu

 

The exam is composed of three parts which include reading, writing and mathematics. Each section is made up of 30 questions, for a total of 90 questions. Close to one-third of the questions in each section require the test-taker to apply the tested skills knowledge to a classroom scenario. There is no penalty for wrong answers, so individuals are encouraged to choose an answer for each question. Below is a chart of the three sections that will be covered on the exam, as well as the number of questions included in each battery.

Test SectionsSkilla Covered# of Questions
ReadingReading knowledge, applications of reading skills in classroom instruction, identifying supporting ideas, organization, context, as well as interpretation of charts, diagrams, graphs, and tables30 Questions
MathematicsMathematical knowledge, mathematical skills, application of math skills in classroom instruction, number sense, basic algebra, geometry and measurement, and data analysis30 Questions
WritingWriting knowledge, application of writing skills in classroom instruction, recognizing error in word usage, punctuation, parts of speech, as well as identifying and using appropriate reference materials30 Questions

Method of Scoring

When interpreting your test score, it is important to realize that passing scores for the ParaPro assessment are dependent upon state requirements. This can be done on the ETS ParaPro website, under “State and School District Requirements.”

When your score report is returned, the applicant will receive several pieces of information. This includes the following:

  • Your name
  • Your score(s)
  • Pass/no pass information for recipients designated on your registration
  • Background information
  • Educational information
  • Detailed content category performance

 

When it comes time to interpreting your score, it is important to realize that test questions are organized and grouped into content categories. As a result, the applicant can better recognize areas in which they need to improve. The score report presents the “raw points,” which is the number of questions answered correctly in each category. Additionally, the report shows the number of raw points that are possible in each category, as well as the range of points earned by the middle 50 percent of individuals completing the test.

Methods of Preparing for the ParaPro Assessment

While preparing for the exam, it is crucial that test-takers really familiarize themselves with the full extent of the test materials.. Through recognizing the different content areas, the individual will be more aware of the skill sets and content knowledge in which they already are experts, and those areas with which they may need further help.

Organization and detailed planning is another key component when it comes to preparing for the ParaPro assessment. It is important that you begin to map out your study time, and organize your study periods by the sections that you wish to cover. Try to give yourself enough study time so that you do not feel the need to cram before the day of the exam. Try and pick a testing day far enough in advance, so that you have plenty of time to prepare. Test dates can be found at https://www.ets.org/parapro/state_requirements/. Do not be afraid to map out your study schedule, while allowing yourself to have breaks in between. These breaks are critical in ensuring that you are not “overstudying,” but that you are allowing yourself time to fully absorb the material.

If you wish to collaborate with others who are also studying for the ParaPro assessment, try forming a study group! Study groups allow individuals to collaborate with others, ask questions, and receive detailed answers. Because each member most likely has distinct strengths, it is helpful to work alongside people who can supplement your knowledge of topics that are considerably weaker. Additionally, study groups may cultivate a sense of motivation, emotional support, and the feeling that others are experiencing the same hurdles or challenges alongside you. There are several other helpful tips that you should keep in mind on the day of the exam. These include being well rested, wearing comfortable clothes, eating a good meal, and bringing a valid form of photo identification. Additionally, it is required that you bring a pen or pencil to use on the scratch paper that you are provided with. Remember to stay calm, confident, and sure of yourself throughout the exam. It is important to recognize that you have put a solid amount of time and effort into the study process. Recognizing your efforts should give you a real sense of motivation when going into the exam.