Many standardized tests are geared toward what used to be called the 3 Rs. This phrase is of course intended to be humorous, since only one of the “3 Rs” (reading) actually begins with an “R.” The ParaPro Test, aimed at measuring the skill levels of paraprofessionals, expects test takers to be proficient in reading, writing, and arithmetic.
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The classic definition of a paraprofessional is “a trained assistant to a professional person.” Currently, the term applies to a host of people who work alone or in a group with other paraprofessionals under the direction of a professional. The paraprofessional may assist the professional, as is often the case with teacher assistants, but is often expected to perform assigned duties with minimal oversight. Today’s paraprofessionals are required to be familiar with technological language used by professionals in a variety of fields. They must be proficient in applied mathematics, and they must read and comprehend a variety of materials designed to keep them abreast of developments in their fields of work and study.
In the teaching field, the ParaPro exam was developed for the specific purpose of providing support to the federal No Child Left Behind Act of Congress. It requires passage of a two and one-half hour test in the three chief school content areas: reading, writing, and mathematics. In addition to passing the test, the typical school district paraprofessional will possess an Associate of Arts degree or have completed the equivalent two years of college. This is a minimum qualification for the paraprofessional position.
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The ParaPro test consists of 90 multiple-choice questions. Of those 90 questions, 60 are directed toward math, reading comprehension, and language arts. The ParaPro test for teaching also has 30 questions devoted to the application of classroom management skills. The ParaPro exam is administered in both paper and electronic formats. The test taker can expect questions on basic algebra, fractions, percentages, bar and line chart graphs, and other common practical mathematics applications.
Language skills assessed by the exam include reading comprehension, vocabulary, and writing. Advance registration is required for the paper test, but the internet-based test is administered directly by participating school districts and does not require pre-registration. Another advantage of taking the internet-based test is that it is given continuously and at the discretion of participating school districts. The paper-based test, on the other hand, is offered only four times a year at scheduled times and locations.