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The ParaPro Assessment is a test developed by Educational Testing Service (ETS) to test the knowledge and skills of education paraprofessionals. Many people are unfamiliar with this term, but it's simply another name for teacher's aides, teacher's assistants, instructional assistant, etc. Sometimes the terms "parapro" or "paraeducator" are used. All these terms are interchangeable, and passing the exam is one way of qualifying for employment in this field. Every year more and more federal regulations are passed that have an impact on local and state school districts, and practices that used to be widespread and acceptable are now forbidden by law.

The regulation of education paraprofessionals is an example of that. It used to be the case throughout most of the US that each school could set its own standards for hiring what most people used to call teacher's aides. Actually, in many cases, teacher's aides weren't even employees; they were volunteers. Whether they were getting paid or volunteering, there generally weren't a lot of criteria they had to meet. They usually didn't need a college education, for example. Instead, teachers and administrators looked for classroom aides who enjoyed working with children, were good at it, and got along well with teachers and other colleagues. In many cases the teacher's aide was the mother of one of the students in the classroom.

Those days are long gone. Now, due to federal rules, an education paraprofessional must either have an accredited associate's degree, or a total of 60 or more credit hours from an accredited college or university, or they must pass a state approved certification test. One of the most common tests used for this purpose is the Para Pro Assessment. The test is given in two formats; it can be taken with paper and pencil or over the internet. The pencil and paper version is given three times a year, but the internet version can be taken at any time, in most districts that use it. The fee to take the ParaPro exam is currently $45, which is non-refundable.

The exam is a test of basic skills and knowledge. There are 90 questions on the test, and all of them are multiple choice. The three subject areas are reading, writing and math, and approximately 60 of the questions test for knowledge in these areas, while the remaining questions focus on using those skills in a classroom to education children. There is no single standard for a passing score, as each state or school district establishes its own guidelines. Those who take the test over the internet will receive their scores immediately after the test is finished, but people taking the pencil and paper version will have to wait three to four weeks for their scores to be mailed.

ParaPro test breakdown

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Last Updated: 04/08/2014

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