For Paraprofessionals


VCU-ACE provides professional development for paraprofessionals who serve students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the teachers with whom they work. Training, online courses, and other resources are designed to prepare paraprofessionals for the important work that they do, encourage collaboration within educational teams, and increase the learning of students with ASD.

The Role of a Paraprofessional

The prefix "para" means "alongside of." Therefore, it is correct to assume that a paraprofessional works alongside an educator. A paraprofessional is a school employee who works under the supervision of a licensed staff member to assist in providing instruction, behavioral support, and other services to students and their families (Adapted from A.L. Pickett, Director for the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals, City University of New York, 1997). Due to the increase in the population of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder throughout Virginia, a large number of paraprofessionals are performing a variety of roles. Services can be instructional or non-instructional in nature.

VCU-ACE, in collaboration with The Virginia Department of Education, recognizes the important role of paraprofessionals in supporting students, teachers, and the school and provides training and resources on a variety of topics designed to:

  • Enhance the knowledge of paraprofessionals related to the characteristics and learning needs of students with autism spectrum disorder
  • Build skills for paraprofessionals related to implementing teacher-directed instruction and behavioral support strategies
  • Assist local educational agencies in providing teachers and administrators with guidance on the supervisory relationship with paraprofessionals and promote collaboration among educational teams
  • Increase learning and opportunities to promote independence for students with ASD

House Bill 325 and Training Standards

In April 2012, the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 325 which requires training for paraprofessionals who work with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) within 60 days of assignment to such responsibility. Specifically, the bill reads:

Photo of an infographic

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

  1. That the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted by adding a section numbered 22.1-298.3 as follows:
    § 22.1-298.3. Students with autism spectrum disorders; training required of personnel. By September 1, 2014, each school board shall ensure that aides assigned to work with a teacher who has primary oversight of students with autism spectrum disorders receive training in student behavior management within 60 days of assignment to such responsibility. School boards may provide such training to other employees, including transportation employees. The Board of Education shall provide training standards that school divisions may use to fulfill the requirements of this section.
  2. That the Board of Education, in consultation with Virginia Commonwealth University, shall develop online training that school divisions may use to fulfill the requirements of § 22.1-298.3 of the Code of Virginia. Such training shall be made available to local school divisions free of charge.

In January 2013, the Virginia Board of Education approved Training Standards for Paraprofessionals Assigned to Work with a Teacher Who Has Primary Oversight of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (PDF) (Word) . These training standards were developed in collaboration with VCU-ACE and feedback was obtained from stakeholders throughout the Commonwealth. Because behavior management is complex, competencies to be demonstrated include those beyond basic fundamentals of behavior and include principles and strategies to reduce interfering behavior, build positive skills, enhance communication, and deliver individualized instruction.

School divisions may meet these standards through a variety of training methods. However, VCU-ACE provides an online course developed in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Education designed specifically to target these standards.

Online Course for Paraprofessionals:
Autism Spectrum Disorder for Paraprofessionals: Providing Effective Instruction and Supports

VCU-ACE is pleased to offer AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER FOR PARAPROFESSIONALS: PROVIDING EFFECTIVE INSTRUCTION AND SUPPORTS. This online course for paraprofessionals meets the requirements of HB 325 and the Training Standards from the Virginia Department of Education. Course materials are designed to provide paraprofessionals with the knowledge and skills needed to support students with ASD in the school setting. A range of formats is available to meet the needs of Virginia Public Schools including online and live training models.

  • Self-Paced Online Course

    This course consists of 6 modules that engage participants in the course materials through short videos, reading, and interactive knowledge checks that can be completed at the learners' own pace.

    Please see the course details page for more information and to register online.

  • Division-led Training Model

    Upon request, VCU-ACE will provide training of trainers for school division staff across Virginia on the implementation of division-led live training to meet the requirements of H.B. 325 for the paraprofessionals in their school divisions.

    Contact Teresa Cogar,, to learn more about the Division-led Training Model for paraprofessionals.

Other Resources for Paraprofessionals

The following are additional training opportunities and resources available to paraprofessionals or anyone who would like to receive information beyond the requirements of HB 325.

Icon with connecting dots MyACE Dashboard

Want an easy way to keep track of your trainings? Click here to access your personal dashboard where you can see what training options are available and track your progress! You'll need to create a free account and then you'll be able to access training opportunities by topics.

Calendar iconCourses

Click on Online Courses to see additional courses offered by VCU-ACE. After completing the ASD for Paraprofessionals course, if you are interested in taking additional courses, we recommend paraprofessionals take Foundations in Autism Spectrum Disorder course followed by Evidence-Based Practices to Teach Students with ASD and then Using Positive Behavior Supports to Promote the Functional Behavior Assessment Process.

***Please note, only the ASD for Paraprofessionals course will meet the requirements of HB 325.

5 minute icon How To Video Series

Our How To Video Series are short videos that lets you see how to implement some of the strategies you've learned about. These videos give brief explanations to remind you about important information and then provide video examples of the skill or practice.