Date of Award

Summer 8-24-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Mark Jimenez, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

John D'Aguanno, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Juan Vives, Ed.D.


Special education assistants (SEAs) have been a vital source in the classroom since the early 1950s. When SEAs first began helping in the classroom, they were responsible for helping with clerical needs such as copying, filing, and data recording. However, those roles have evolved into more involved tasks well outside their job description and such as lesson planning and major delivery of classroom instruction. This phenomenological study delved into the training practices designed for SEAs in one Texas school district to determine if the current practices prepared SEAs to fulfil their state mandated job descriptions. The researcher also sought to learn what it took to facilitate the role of a SEA using their lived experiences. This study employed a qualitative design using two sources of data collection: survey and focus group. The population sample included 10 SEAs and 19 teachers who participated in the survey. Then three SEAs and three teachers who took part in the focus group. The major findings of this study implied that SEAs are not receiving the training they need as mandated by their job descriptions. Furthermore, most SEAs revealed to effectively facilitate their role, they require guidance from supervising teachers, and prior experience working with disabled children. Moreover, without these accommodations, coupled with the lack of training, SEAs reported having significant difficulty performing their job effectively. Recommendations for change are provided to address this ongoing and problematic issue.