Approximately one out of every nine elementary (PreK to grade 5) students within the United States is classified as an English Language Learner (ELL), with numbers expected to reach as high as one in four by 2025 (Ortiz &Pagan, 2009). More than 75% of these students speak Spanish as their native language. Native Spanish-speaking students who are classified as (ELL) have a high probability of being referred for special education services under the labels of "Learning Disability" or "Cognitive Disability," especially if they are instructed solely in English (Artiles , Rueda, Salazar, &Higareda, 2005). Once referred for special education, students generally experience poorer academic and behavioral outcomes than their general education peers. In 2009, 18% of Latino students aged 16-24 had dropped out of school compared to 5% of their White peers (Aud, KewalRamani, &Frohlich, 2011). Research indicates that (a) bilingual instruction and (b) educator ability to differentiate between low performance due to a language barrier and low performance due to disability, and (c) access to a same-race teacher improves outcomes for ELL students. Artiles et al. (2005) found that ELL students placed into bilingual instructional programs, where native language support is provided by a paraprofessional, have a lower probability to be referred to special education (Artiles et al., 2005). Without access to bilingual educators, ELL students are often at risk of being misidentified for special education due to the language barrier mistaken for a disability, or are at risk of not receiving special education services due to a disability mistakn for the language barrier (Brown, 2004;Pickett, 1999). Access to a same-race teacher has been associated with improved student motivation and better academic and behavioral outcomes (Dee, 2005;Goldsmith, 2004). Unfortunately, the majority of ELL students are instructed by White teachers, most of whom do not speak Spanish, struggle to provide what has been identified as best practice, and heavily rely on paraprofessionals to provide assistance. Unfortunately, well-trained bilingual paraprofessionals (e.g., teacher aides, educational or instructional assistants, and paraeducators) able to assist with the instruction of ELL students and keep them in the general education classroom are scarce;many bilingual Latino/a paraprofessionals are insufficiently trained (Casteel, &Ballantyne, 2010;Flores, Keehn, &Perez, 2002;Miramontes, 1991). To address the lack of training of bilingual Latino/a paraprofessionals, and thereby ELL students'over- identification for special education and subsequent poor academic and social outcomes, we will develop prePARApro, an on-line training program that will provide bilingual (Spanish/English) Latino/a paraprofessionals with the training they need to help ELL students remain in the general education classroom. The primary goals of prePARApro will be to give bilingual Latino/a paraprofessionals the skills necessary to help ELL students succeed academically and behaviorally. Specifically, prePARApro will consist of 4 modules focusing on (1) being part of a team supporting ELL students (Brooks, Adams, &Morita-Mullaney, 2010;Edstam &Walker, 2009), (2) addressing the social-emotional needs of ELL students, (3) providing bilingual academic instruction, and (4) collecting data to monitor student performance (Martin &Copeland, 2010). PrePARApro will use dynamic interactive learning methods to deliver evidence-based and scientifically- valid training to bilingual Latino/a paraprofessionals who support ELL students in elementary schools. PrePARApro will be presented in a realistic bilingual format: English audio with Spanish subtitles will be used to illustrate situations where paraprofessionals will have to interact with English-speaking individuals (e.g. teachers, administrators), and Spanish audio with English subtitles will be used to illustrate situations where paraprofessionals will have to interact with Spanish-speaking individuals (e.g. students, parents). The skill- based training will rely on theory-driven instructional approaches and be delivered through interactive online technology. The complete program will comprise four instructional modules. Together these resources will help paraprofessionals master the skills necessary for effectively supporting elementary aged ELL students. During Phase I, we will develop and assess the feasibility of Modules 1. We will use a pre-post design with 44 paraprofessionals in order to determine changes in self-efficacy, knowledge and skill mastery as well as examine possible moderators and mediators of these changes. Additionally, post-test evaluation of consumer satisfaction and recommendations for modifications to the program will be collected. While not controlling for potential threats to internal validity, this design does allow for the evaluation of changes in self-efficacy, knowledge and skill mastery. Threats to internal validity will be addressed during the Phase II evaluation through a large-scale randomized controlled trial of the complete intervention.

Public Health Relevance

Approximately one out of every nine elementary (PreK to grade 5) students within the United States is classified as an English Language Learner (ELL), and more than 75% of these students speak Spanish as their native language. Native Spanish-speaking students who are classified as ELL have a high probability of being referred for special education services under the labels of Learning Disability or Cognitive Disability by their non Spanish-speaking teachers. Once referred for special education, students generally experience poorer academic outcomes than their general education peers;they fail academically and tend to engage in problem behavior that excludes them from the classroom. Exclusion from the classroom has potentially deleterious long-term consequences, including school drop-out, drug abuse, and delinquency. Our proposed project, prePARApro, is designed to train bilingual Latino/a paraprofessionals to support the academic, behavioral, and social-emotional well being of ELL elementary students, decrease unnecessary referrals to special education, and thereby increase ELL students'long term academic and social success.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)
Type
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase I (R43)
Project #
1R43MD008145-01
Application #
8524375
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BBBP-V (10))
Program Officer
Arora, Krishan
Project Start
2013-09-17
Project End
2014-03-31
Budget Start
2013-09-17
Budget End
2014-03-31
Support Year
1
Fiscal Year
2013
Total Cost
$149,972
Indirect Cost
Name
Iris Media, Inc.
Department
Type
DUNS #
072307593
City
Eugene
State
OR
Country
United States
Zip Code
97401