What you need to know about the ParaPro Assessment

Student taking the ParaPro Assessment.

The ParaPro Assessment is one of the Praxis® tests for educational personnel. It measures the basic skills deemed necessary to function as a paraprofessional or teacher assistant/aide in a school setting. Beginning with the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002 and continuing with the Every Student Succeeds Act that replaced it, it is required that paraprofessionals have one of these three qualifications:

  • An associate of arts degree
  • Two (2) years of college
  • A passing score on the district’s choice of assessment that proves the candidate has the knowledge and skills to assist in the teaching of reading, writing, and mathematics

The ParaPro Assessment is the test chosen by some school districts to satisfy the third option above. Producers of this test say that the questions are approximately leveled for a student who has completed 2 years of post-high school study (college level). The reading level of the questions is no higher than the level a person would need to work with K-12 students.

This test is administered on computer with other options available for people who qualify for certain accommodations. The testing format is basically selected-response (mostly multiple-choice) and you may not use a calculator. Some questions may vary from the typical multiple-choice format where you select one answer from a list of four possible choices. Directions for each type of answer will be clearly given, so read carefully. Here are the other question types you may see:

  • Multiple-choice in which you choose more than one answer
  • Questions requiring numeric answers to be typed into a box
  • Questions requiring the use of the mouse to click on parts of a graphic stimulus
  • Questions requiring clicking on sentences in a reading passage
  • Questions requiring you to drag answers from one spot to another and drop them there
  • Questions requiring you to choose the answer from a drop-down menu and click on it

You can learn more about these question types and practice the procedures for answering them at this site.

The exam has three parts: Reading, Writing, and Mathematics. Each part contains 30 questions and is one-third of the examination. The questions in each section primarily address skills and knowledge in that particular area of study. About one-third of the questions in each section ask you to apply those skills and that knowledge to a classroom situation. There may be a few questions in any section that do not count toward your score, but you won’t know which ones these are. There is no penalty for wrong answers, so it is to your advantage to select an answer for every question.

What are the costs?

The basic fee for taking the ParaPro Assessment is $55.00. Some school systems may cover all or part of this cost for current or potential paras in their system. Other locations may charge an extra amount to offset the cost of using that location. Check with your testing facility about its policy and be aware that cash is generally not accepted for payment.

What should I bring?

The main thing you’ll need to remember to bring on test day is a photo ID. Other verification procedures may be used for security by your testing facility, such as fingerprinting and videotaping.There are many items that are not allowed in the testing facility during this test, so check out the complete regulations here ahead of time. There may or may not be storage facilities for banned personal items, so you’ll need to plan accordingly.

How is it scored?

You will get an unofficial score at the end of the testing session and 2 to 3 weeks later, an official score will be sent to you and the district and/or state you designate at registration. Score reports will include a total score, scores on the three content categories, and information about interpreting your scores.

The required passing score on the ParaPro is determined by the state or district requiring the test. State and some local requirements may be viewed here. Contact personnel at your local system to verify their currently required passing score(s).

What kind of job can I get?

A paraprofessional can be instrumental in delivering quality education to students in the classroom and other areas of a school. Whether the position is termed “para,” “teacher assistant,” or “teacher’s aide,” the person filling it assists with a variety of tasks. A para generally follows the teacher’s plans for instruction and helps by working with individuals or small groups. Some school systems also allow a percentage of a para’s time to be spent on clerical tasks and other duties that help a school run smoothly, such as supervising students on the playground or during lunch. Many school systems require a para to have completed at least 2 years of college, but most do not specify any particular field of collegiate study.

A para may be assigned to work with one or more classroom teachers. In the case of students with special needs, the use of a para to assist one student in class may be written into that student’s individual education plan. In this case, the para would stay with the student throughout a defined portion of the school day. Depending on state and local guidelines for para use, there are many other things you may be asked to do as a para.

Am I eligible?

Taking the ParaPro Assessment does not require any specific age, so, as long as you can cover the registration fee, you should be able to take the test. Your local school system may mandate additional employment qualifications, so check with them before registering to test. A certain score on this test does not necessarily guarantee you employment. If you do not achieve a passing score the first time, you may retake the test every 21 days until you do.

Why does it matter?

If the school system in which you work, or would like to work, requires the ParaPro for employment, it is attempting to determine whether your skills and knowledge qualify you for a position as a para. It’s important for you to show your best work, especially if there are multiple candidates for the job(s) available. Schools want to employ the most knowledgeable and skilled workers to interact with students.

What salary can I expect?

According the the Bureau of Labor Statistics, annual wages for a paraprofessional in an educational setting currently average $25,000. The actual salary is dependent on school system and state salary scales. Your school system may offer a greater or lesser salary range for para work.

When is it available?

The ParaPro Assessment is given at Prometric® Testing Centers and other locations, including some universities, colleges, and school district facilities. You can find out more about testing centers and dates by accessing this website and by contacting your local education agency.

Tips & Tricks

  • You may be more or less familiar with computer-delivered tests, but learning more about the format of the ParaPro Assessment is a good idea. You can view a tutorial about this here.

  • If you haven’t practiced the skills tested in a while or you’d like to have more support, creating a study group is a great idea. If several of your colleagues or friends are also preparing for the test, arrange to meet in a group regularly as you prepare. You can share study tips and information while providing encouragement for each other.

  • Don’t be discouraged by unfamiliar words in questions or answers on this test. Use the words around them (context clues) to help you figure out what they mean. Scan all of the answers. You may find that the unknown word is not even in the correct answer. Just use what you know to figure it out.

  • The questions on this test are not designed to be tricky. They are straightforward and just require you to make your best judgment, so don’t make the test harder by overthinking a question.

Time Allowed

The testing session for the ParaPro Assessment lasts for 2.5 hours, during which you will be presented with 90 questions. You will need to work rather quickly to answer all of the questions within this time limit, but it’s also important to proceed carefully and avoid careless errors.

Practice using our expertly crafted questions!