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IES Grant

Title: Factors Associated with Positive Outcomes for Children and Youth with Autism: Secondary Analysis of Data from SEELS and NLTS2
Center: NCSER Year: 2012
Principal Investigator: Wagner, Mary Awardee: SRI International
Program: Autism Spectrum Disorders      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3/1/2012–2/28/2014 Award Amount: $699,947
Type: Exploration Award Number: R324A120012

Co-Principal Investigators: Xin Wei and Jennifer Yu

Purpose: The rapid growth in the number and diversity of children and youth served under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in the category of autism represents a significant challenge for educators across the country. There is still much to be learned about the types of school-related interventions (e.g., instructional programs and settings; learning supports; supplemental and related services; and accommodations and modifications) that can be used to improve school and post-secondary school outcomes for students with autism. This research team will use extant data from the Special Education Elementary Longitudinal Study (SEELS) and the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2) to determine what school-related interventions are associated with academic, social/behavioral, occupational, and independence outcomes for children and youth with autism throughout the school years and into early adulthood.

Project Activities: The research activities will take place sequentially within outcome domains. For each domain, the researchers will conduct exploratory, descriptive, and propensity score analyses. The domains will be analyzed in the following order: academic (SEELS & NLTS2), social/behavioral (SEELS & NLTS2), occupational (NLTS2), and independence outcomes (NLTS2).

Products: Products will include published articles and presentations on the types of school-related interventions associated with academic, social/behavioral, occupation, and independence outcomes for students with autism.

Structured Abstract

Setting: SEELS and NLTS2 include data from students across the United States.

Sample: SEELS and NLTS2 are nationally representative databases on students with disabilities. This study will use data from all three waves of SEELS for students with autism who were ages 6–12 years at the outset and 11–17 years at its conclusion, and from all five waves of NLTS2 for those who were ages 13–16 at the outset and 21–25 (up to 8 years post-high school) at its conclusion. The maximum analytic sample for participants who fit the research criteria (e.g., receiving special education services for autism) are 875 students for SEELS and 585 students for NLTS2.

Intervention: There is no specific intervention under investigation. This project will explore various school-related interventions in academic (e.g., tutoring, instructional accommodation, level of participation in general education), social/behavioral (e.g., behavior management plan, mental health services), occupational preparation (e.g., school-sponsored work study program, prevocational coursework), and independence (e.g., life skills or self-determination instruction) domains.

Research Design and Methods: The investigators will conduct secondary data analyses using propensity score matching with two nationally representative databases on school experiences and outcomes of students with disabilities (SEELS, NLTS2). A two-stage sampling process was used to obtain data for each database by first sampling local educational agencies and then sampling students within each LEA. For both SEELS and NTLS2, data were collected using youth and parent interviews and mail surveys, school data (rosters, surveys), and direct student assessments or functional ratings (depending on the student's ability). NLTS2 also includes school transcripts.

Control Condition: Due to the nature of the research design, there is no control condition.

Key Measures: Information about the types of interventions received by each student was obtained through a variety of sources, including a school program survey, transcripts (for NLTS2) and parent report. Key outcome measures in four domains will be investigated. Academic outcome measures for both studies include standardized test scores and grades; NLTS2 also includes high school completion and postsecondary education enrollment and completion. Social/behavioral outcome measures include social skill scales, disciplinary actions at school or with the criminal justice system, seeing friends, and participating in extracurricular groups. Occupational outcome measures include having employment experience during and post high school, wages earned, and stability of employment. Independence outcome measures include independent functioning in the community, living independently, and having driving privileges.

Data Analytic Strategy: After initial exploratory and descriptive analyses, the main analytic strategy will use propensity score matching within each dataset. Variables related to the student's demographics, family characteristics, disability and functioning, and school and social experiences before the intervention will be used to create propensity scores to match students with similar characteristics but different intervention participation. A meta-analysis will also be conducted to estimate the effect sizes across age groups for a given intervention in both the SEELS and NLTS2 datasets.


Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Roux, A. M., Shattuck, P. T., Rast, J. E., Rava, J. A., Edwards, A. D., Wei, X., McCracken, M. and Yu, J. (2015). Characteristics of Two-Year College Students on the Autism Spectrum and Their Support Services Experiences. Autism Research and Treatment. doi:10.1155/2015/391693 Full text

Shattuck, P.T., Steinberg, J. Yu, J., Wei, X., Cooper, B.P., Newman, L., and Roux, A.M. (2014). Disability Identification and Self-Efficacy Among College Students on the Autism Spectrum. Autism Research and Treatment, 2014. doi:10.1155/2014/924182 Full text

Wei, X., Christiano, E., Yu, J., Blackorby, J., Shattuck, P., & Newman, L. (2013). Postsecondary pathways and persistence for STEM versus Non-STEM majors among college students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders: 44 (5), 1159–67 doi: 10.1007/s10803–013–1978–5

Wei, X., Christiano, E.R, Yu, J.W., Wagner, M., and Spiker, D. (2014). Reading and Math Achievement Profiles and Longitudinal Growth Trajectories of Children With an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism. doi:10.1177/1362361313516549

Wei, X., Wagner, M. Christiano, E.R.A., Shattuck, P., and Yu, J.W. (2014). Special Education Services Received by Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders From Preschool Through High School. Journal of Special Education, 48(3): 167–179. doi:10.1177/0022466913483576

Wei, X., Wagner, M., Hudson, L., Yu, J.W., and Shattuck, P. (2015). Transition to Adulthood: Employment, Education, and Disengagement in Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorders . Emerging Adulthood, 3(1): 37–45. doi:10.1177/2167696814534417

Wei, X., Wagner, M., Yu, J.W., Hudson, L., and Javitz, H. (2016). The Effect of Transition Planning Participation and Goal-Setting on College Enrollment among Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Remedial and Special Education, 37(1): 3–14. doi:10.1177/0741932515581495

Wei, X., Yu, J. Shattuck, P., McCracken, M., and Blackorby, J. (2012). Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Participation Among College Students With an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43(7): 1539–1546. doi:10.1007/s10803–012–1700–z

Wei, X., Yu, J.W., Shattuck, P., and Blackorby, J. (2015). High School Math and Science Preparation and Postsecondary STEM Participation for Students With an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/1088357615588489