Information Regarding The ParaPro Assessment

Teaching has always been considered a very noble profession. A teacher influences the lives of his pupils not only by his knowledge but also by his teaching methodology, personality and conduct. In this profession, it is not only what a teacher knows that matters but also how he teaches it that does. A similar thing can be said about paraprofessional educators. Paraprofessional educators should be able to provide educational support and hence have to be highly qualified to do so. The level of qualification required is determined by state jurisdictions. For their assistance, Educational Testing Service has developed this assessment and administers it for estimating the capabilities of practicing and prospective paraprofessionals.

ETS is a not-for-profit organization that creates, administers and scores over 50 million tests in a year. The tests conducted by it are accurate and valid as numerous tests, checks and research are responsible for ensuring that the tests serve the purpose they are meant to. The credentials of this testing service give the required confidence to colleges and schools to trust the validity of its tests. This is one such assessment that state and district jurisdictions rely on for judging educational paraprofessionals. The assessment measures skills in reading, mathematics and writing and the ability to put those skills into practice in a classroom setting. These skills are essential for providing quality education to children.





Registration

The test is available in two formats: internet based testing and paper and pencil based testing.
The internet based test offers you more flexibility in terms of registration and testing dates. There is no need for pre-registration for the internet based test; you can take it throughout the year at a participating school district. The paper based test is conducted four times in a year at chosen test centers.

An information bulletin is available at the official website. This bulletin contains the registration form and a list of test centers. To register for the paper based test you need to obtain a copy of the registration form and mail the completed form to the given address. The test fee is $45.
You can opt for Monday testing if you are bound by your religious sentiments or are in the US armed forces. Moreover, you can register for PLNE (primary language not English) testing and shall be allotted 50% additional time for testing.

Note: You should register for the paper based test as soon as registrations open. It is offered only four times in a year and hence you might not be able to register at a test center of your choice if you do not initiate the process in time. This could mean either a delay in test taking or registering for a test center that leads to inconvenience.

Test Content

The questions are based on two aspects

  • fundamental skills and knowledge
  • application of those skills in a classroom environment

Roughly, two-thirds of the questions concentrate on the first aspect while one-third are related with the second aspect. The testing session shall last for 2 1/2hours and 90 multiple choice questions are administered in it.
The test content is divided into six portions. These are

  1. Reading Skills and Knowledge: There are 18 questions pertaining to this section and they contribute 20% towards the test content. The questions test your abilities to comprehend, examine and interpret written information. These abilities are tested through passages, graphs, charts and tables. The content is based on a wide range of subjects and real life scenarios.

  2. Application of Reading Skills and Knowledge to Classroom Instruction: 12 questions are based on this. The questions aim at estimating how well the test taker can assist a student in reading tasks. These involve fundamental skills involved in reading and tools of reading process. The questions are based on real life classroom situations in which the student is involved in reading related activities.

  3. Mathematics Skills and Knowledge: There are 18 questions constituting 20% of the exam questions based on this portion. These questions test the candidate’s understanding of mathematical concepts and his aptitude of applying them to abstract and real-life situations. Knowledge of advanced level of mathematics is not required for these questions. The main content areas covered in these questions are Number Sense and Basic Algebra, Geometry and Measurement and Data Analysis.

  4. Application of Mathematics Skills and Knowledge to Classroom Instruction: These questions judge your ability to apply your expertise in the three basic content areas tested in the Mathematics Skills and Knowledge section to a classroom setting. The mathematical skills required to support a teacher with teaching activities are tested in this section. There are 12 questions in the portion and they contribute 13% towards the total test items. 

  5. Writing Skills and Knowledge: These questions judge how well a teacher can recognize errors in usage of grammar, words, punctuation, parts of sentence, parts of speech and spellings. 18 testing items are based on this portion.

  6. Application of Writing Skills and Knowledge to Classroom Instruction: These questions check the ability of the candidate to assist in writing tasks undertaken by children in school. The ability of a candidate to provide assistance in understanding which type of writing is suitable for what purpose and in activities like prewriting, referring, drafting and editing is judged through the 12 questions in this section.

Note: From the above breakup it is amply clear that a test taker has to possess the ability to put into practice his skills in reading, mathematics and writing to a classroom setting. Without preparation for this aspect, it is not possible to score well.

Scoring

The internet based test is scored immediately and unofficial scores are displayed on the screen after you complete the test. You can get the scores printed but they do not serve any official purpose. The official scores are mailed after nearly two weeks of testing.

The paper-based test results are mailed nearly four weeks after testing. You can enquire about your scores through telephone as well on dates mentioned on the website for additional payment.
Each correct response is given one point. These points add up to form your raw scores. The raw scores are converted into scaled scores falling within a range of 420-480. Maximum students score between 458 and 475 for the paper based test and between 460 and 476 for the internet based test. There is no negative mark for an incorrect response.

  • The passing score is determined by states or districts separately. These are mentioned on your score report and accordingly your pass or fail status is mentioned as well.

  • You can send your score report to one recipient free of charge. For sending Additional Score Reports (ASRs) you shall have to make special requests and additional payments.

  • Your current scores as well as the highest score obtained in each test taken in the last ten years are reported in the score report.

  • You have the paid option of getting your scores verified within 4 months of testing. The corrected score reports, in case any difference exists, are sent to all recipients.

  • You can retake the test as many times as you please, provided your state so allows. There are no retesting limitations set by ETS, however some state authorities, associations and institutions might set a limit on it.  

Note: Since the passing score depends on your state jurisdiction, you should enquire about such details before you register for the exam and set aims for yourself accordingly. Knowledge about the scores that are required for making your attempt a success can be crucial to your preparation.

Preparation for ParaPro Assessment

If you are taking this test, you are obviously involved in the teaching profession. Thus, it should be easy for you to comprehend how preparation for an exam has a direct impact on your scores. There is free assistance provided by the testing service for preparing for the exam in the following forms and accessible at the website www.ets.org. These are

  • A PDF file containing an overview of the test, ‘ParaPro Assessment Test at a Glance’
  • An online tutorial that assists in gaining experience of navigation through the test and the testing items, ‘Internet-based Online Tutorial’
  • A test preparation booklet that helps control anxiety for ParaPro, ‘Reducing Test Anxiety’

Other eBooks published help in test preparation as well. These can be ordered on phone or online.

Note: Overlooking the test preparation materials made available by the testing service shall be a grave mistake. You cannot understand the test as well through any other source as you can through ParaPro Assessment Test at a Glance. Moreover, "Reducing Test Anxiety" contains some valuable tips that are based on studying factors responsible for increasing anxiety among the test takers. These guidelines shall help you get over nervousness that can mar your attempt.

Take the ParaPro Assessment

You could be a very capable and efficient paraprofessional and the requirement of taking this assessment might not strike as important to you. However, Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the "No Child Left Behind Act" makes the following mandatory for paraprofessionals. A paraprofessional must have

  • Finished two years of study at an institution of higher education; or
  • Acquired an associate’s or higher degree; or
  • Be able to demonstrate knowledge of and the ability to assist in instructing, reading, writing, and mathematics, through a formal state or local assessment.  

Hence, if you intend to make any success in this profession, you shall have to take this test to prove your mettle. Remember that the test only assists you in fulfilling your professional dreams and does not act as a hindrance in your way to success.