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Effects of an Implementation Science Approach to Professional Development for Children and Youth with ASD

Thursday, 2 May 2013: 14:00-18:00
Banquet Hall (Kursaal Centre)
S. Odom1, A. W. Cox2 and M. Brock3, (1)University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, (2)Frank Porter Graham Institute, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, (3)Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Background:   Operating from an evidence-based practice and implementation science perspective, the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders (NPDC) in the United States has as its goal to promote the use of evidence-based practice in programs for students with ASD. This center model has been implemented in 12 states.

Objectives:  The objectives of this presentation will be to describe the evaluation of the NPDC system as it relates to teachers’ use of EBPs in their classrooms, the changes in program quality, students’ accomplishment of goals, and adoption of the NPDC model in states.

Methods: In this evaluation, the NPDC model was initially implemented at multiple public schools in 12 states in the United States.  Teachers and state technical assistance teams completed an online course and then participate in multiday intensive training with NPCD staff. Ongoing coaching was provided after the training.   In this evaluation design, the Autism Program Environmental Rating Scale (APERS), a 61 items assessment measure, was administered at the beginning of the implementation year in a school and again at the end.  At the beginning of the year, teachers and research staff created goal attainment scales (GAS) for prioritized learner goals.  The GAS is a behaviorally anchored rating scale that rates student progress toward prioritized goals on a five point continuum. Teachers also reported the EPBs they used in their classes at the beginning of the year and the end of the year.  Also, research staff collected fidelity data on teachers’ use of specific EPBs in their classrooms using a fidelity checklist established individually for different practices.  In addition, at the end of the work with the state programs, research staff collected information on the number of initially identified sites implementing the NPDC model, and the number of additional sites implementing the model that state personnel established independent of NPDC staff.

Results: Across the year, all subdomains and the total APERS scores increased significantly from fall to spring observations. The mean effect size was d= 1.10 and d= 1.28 for preschool elementary and middle school/high school sites, respectively.  Teachers reported using significantly more EBPs in their classrooms, with a pre-post effect size of d = 1.35.  Teacher fidelity of implementation increase across the year with patterns of “fast” (for 84% of the EPBs used) and “slow” (for 16% of the EBPs used) progresses toward the criterion leave of implementing with 80% fidelity.  Ninety-eight percent of the children made progress on their goals, with 78% of the targeted goals meeting or exceeding criteria.  At the end of the evaluation, NPDC staff and state personnel had administered the NPDC model in 58 schools, and the states had expanded the model to an additional 110 schools.

Conclusions: The NPDC model was associated with improvements in program quality, increased teacher use of EBPs, and increases in student goals.  The evidence for efficacy, while suggested, will require testing the model using a randomized control study, which is now being planning process.

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