Follow-up Study of Education Graduates Reveals Sustained Use of Evidence-Based Practices

Friday, May 16, 2014
Atrium Ballroom (Marriott Marquis Atlanta)
L. J. Hall1 and S. McDaniel2, (1)Special Education, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, (2)Joint Doctoral Program, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA

Training and sustaining the use of evidence-based strategies by special educators of students on the autism spectrum is a priority for the field because using effective practices with fidelity is related to better outcomes (Durlak & DuPre, 2008). Unfortunately, many special educators who are trained do not stay in the field and the turn over rate is increasing (McLeskey & Billingsley, 2008).  Even if they do remain in the field, special educators report using strategies supported by research with equal frequency to those that are not evidence-based (Burns & Ysseldyke, 2009) and survey results of educators working with children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) reveal that effective teaching practices are implemented at low levels (Hendricks, 2011; Hess, Morrier, Heflin & Ivey, 2008).


This poster will contain the results of a follow up study of the San Diego State University’s Masters degree program with a specialization in Autism. SDSU also has a mentor program where graduates received training in coaching and effective supervision and serve as mentors for current candidates. Multiple measures were used to determine the following research questions: Do graduates 1) remain in the field and 2) sustain their use of evidence-based practices (National Standards Project, 2009; Odom, Collet-Klingenberg, Rogers & Hatton, 2010).  


            Multiple measures that were used in this study included: a Qualtics survey sent to program graduates that included questions about current positions and use of evidence-based practices and progress monitoring systems as well as indication of factors that sustain practices. Video samples from a subset of graduates were used to score the fidelity of implementation of evidence-based practices by 2 inter-raters using the checklists from the NPDC on ASD. Interviews were conducted with a subset of graduates to obtain information about the program factors that facilitated the sustained use of evidence-based practices.


Results of a survey sent to 65 graduates reveal that 94% remain in the field 1 to 7 years following graduation and that they report using the 24 evidence-based practices identified by the NPDC on ASD often or very often. Video samples of the educators implementing select evidence-based practices obtained from 19 graduates were scored as being used with fidelity for a mean of 89% (range 78 – 100%) of strategy components. 98% of graduates report that they continue to collect data for student progress monitoring purposes.  100% reported that the program contributed to their capacity to use evidence-based practices and sustain these practices over time. The main program components that graduates stated effected sustained practices included: Support from peers in the cohort; knowledge about research based strategies used with individuals with ASD; opportunity to participate in field experiences & conferences; and opportunity to practice skills with a coach during practicum.


            The SDSU Masters Degree/Autism specialization program with an embedded BACB approved course sequence and a mentor program for graduates resulted in the creation of a strong community of practice that supported graduates who sustained their use of evidence-based practices and ongoing progress monitoring when educating learners with ASD.

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