Paraprofessional Behavior Support Coaching Project

The Rutgers Paraprofessional Coaching Project provides job-embedded professional development supports to enhance Elementary Grades K-5 Paraprofessionals’ work with students that have challenging behavioral issues in the classroom. Over the course of the school year, we offer collaborative coaching sessions focused on helping paraprofessional classroom aides implement evidence-based behavioral interventions for students. By helping improve paraprofessionals’ skills in managing challenging behaviors, we aim to improve students’ learning and social behavior in the classroom, and ultimately promote their success in schools. 

How Paraprofessionals, Teachers, and Students Benefit

Each coach teaches paraprofessionals and their classroom teachers how to choose evidence-based interventions that match the function of student behaviors and systematically support paraprofessionals’ intervention fidelity. Increasing paraprofessional skills are the main priority and coaching aims to increase paraprofessional skills in the following areas: 

  1. Understanding of positive reinforcement through labeled-specific praise

  1. Determining the antecedent, behavior, and consequences (ABCs) of behavior

  1. Using ABCs to figure out the function of the student’s behavior

  1. Matching interventions to the behavior’s function 

  1. Following implementation protocols for evidence-based interventions to provide best practices when addressing externalizing behaviors



Although paraprofessionals maintain a substantial role in providing classroom-based behavioral interventions for students, they often receive very little training or job-embedded support in behavior management. Given the challenges of providing adequate support to students with externalizing behavior disorders and their risk for negative outcomes (e.g., poor academic performance, drop-out, juvenile delinquency), there is a significant need to identify effective models for supporting these students and the professionals who work with them. Thus, the purpose of the Rutgers’ Paraprofessional Coaching Project is to test the efficacy of a behavior support coaching model for improving (a) paraprofessional’s classroom intervention practices and (b) behavioral and academic outcomes for elementary school students with or at risk for externalizing behavior disorders. 

The Rutgers Paraprofessional Coaching Project is sponsored research by the US Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences (Award #R324A170069) under the NCSER-Professional Development for Educators and School Based Service Providers program. The project is led by Drs. Linda A. Reddy and Todd A. Glover of the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP) at Rutgers University. 

With multiple cohorts over the course of four years, Drs. Reddy and Glover will conduct a randomized control trial to test the impact of the behavior support coaching. The research will investigate the impact of the coaching model on paraprofessional and student outcomes as well as the potential moderating effects of coaching fidelity, the paraprofessional-teacher relationship, and coaching acceptability on the relationship between coaching and behavior intervention implementation.  The mediating effects of paraprofessionals’ intervention implementation on the relationship between coaching and student outcomes will also be examined.