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IES Grant

Title: Promoting Positive Transition Outcomes for Students with Intellectual Disability: A Research Institution-SEA Partnership in Rhode Island
Center: NCSER Year: 2016
Principal Investigator: Shogren, Karrie Awardee: University of Kansas
Program: Low-Cost, Short-Duration Evaluation of Special Education Interventions      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (7/1/2016–6/30/2018) Award Amount: $250,000
Award Number: R324L160002

Co-Principal Investigators: Michael Wehmeyer (University of Kansas), J. David Sienko (Rhode Island Department of Education), and Anthony Antosh (Rhode Island College)

Partner Institutions: University of Kansas, Rhode Island Department of Education, and Rhode Island College

Purpose: The goal of this project is to compare the effect of a single self-determination intervention, Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction (SDLMI), to a combination of SDLMI with another intervention, Whose Future Is It Anyway (WFA), for middle and high school students with intellectual disability on self-determination and other functional, academic, and transition outcomes. The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) is implementing self-determination interventions statewide to address employment options for people with intellectual disabilities in accordance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Self-determination interventions were selected to remedy the lack of support these students receive, based on previous research indicating that these interventions promote positive post-school outcomes, including employment. Skills associated with self-determination (e.g., self-regulated problem solving, goal setting and attainment) are critical behavioral and social skills that promote positive postsecondary transition outcomes. Both interventions have been evaluated individually and were found to be effective in promoting self-determination and post-school outcomes. However, the effect of the SDLMI versus a combination of both interventions has never been rigorously evaluated to determine if there is a meaningful and practical effect above and beyond implementing the single intervention.

Project Activities: The partnership researchers will collaborate in conducting a randomized controlled trial in which 32 school districts will be randomly assigned to receive either the single self-determination intervention (SDLMI) or the combined self-determination interventions (SDLMI and WFA). The team will estimate the impact of the two-intervention condition above and beyond that of the one-intervention condition on self-determination outcomes as well as longer term academic and transition (e.g., employment) outcomes.

Products: The partnership team will disseminate the results of the project through a briefing for RIDE, a general policy brief, conference presentations, and peer-reviewed journal articles.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project will take place in middle and high schools in every school district in Rhode Island.

Population/Sample: The study will include approximately 112 middle and high school special education teachers and their students with an intellectual disability to be recruited from the population of school districts across Rhode Island (a total of 32 districts). These teachers work with approximately 700 students between ages 14 and 21 who are served under the IDEA category of intellectual disability.

Intervention: Each intervention has the goal of promoting self-determination and transition outcomes, but they target these outcomes in different and potentially complementary ways. This research is addressing the added value of the self-directed learning intervention (WPA) in addition to receiving teacher-delivered intervention (SDLMI).

The Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction (SDLMI) is an evidence-based model that helps teachers support student self-regulated problem solving to set and attain education goals and enhance self-determination. Teachers engage students in planning their education based on the goals they want to attain. In addition, teachers work to increase opportunities for students to direct their own learning through a three-phase instructional process during which students ask themselves the following questions: (1) what is my goal, (2) what is my plan, and (3) what have I learned? Teachers receive a 2-day professional development session in SDLMI and trained district coaches support teachers in their implementation of the intervention.

Whose Future Is It Anyway? (WFA) is an evidence-based process designed to help students with intellectual disability independently progress through a set of 36 sessions that promote their meaningful participation in transition planning. These students learn about various topics related to transition planning (e.g., decision making, goal setting, and effective communication strategies). WFA also helps students apply the learning principles acquired in each session. Students need varying levels of support from their teachers to complete the sessions. Teachers receive a 2-day professional development training to learn to coach students as they progress through the intervention.

Research Design and Methods: The research team will conduct a 1-year randomized controlled trial. Thirty-two school districts will be randomly assigned to either the combined intervention (SDLMI + WFA) or single intervention (SDLMI only) condition. RIDE will be collecting all of the data through surveys and a district-specific data collection system and providing it to the research team for analyses.

Control Condition: Students receiving the combined intervention will be compared to students in the control group receiving the SDLMI self-determination intervention alone.

Key Measures: Student outcomes include self-determination and other functional, academic, and transition outcomes. The Self-Determination Inventory: Self-Report and Teacher-Report, which includes the Arc's Self-Determination Scale, will be used to assess students' self-determination. Transition empowerment will be measured using the Transition Empowerment Scale. Student progress on transition goals will be assessed using the Goal Attainment Scaling process. In addition, RIDE developed the Vocational and Academic Course Completion and Achievement (VACCA) as a standardized survey used by districts to collect data on students' coursework, vocational experiences, course completion, achievement, and demographics (i.e., age, gender, race/ethnicity, and eligibility for free and reduced lunch). Students' post-school outcomes (e.g., engaging in post-school employment and other community outcomes) will be collected from students by the districts via a post-school survey. RIDE will also collect data on fidelity of implementation using observational tools and logs recently developed for these interventions.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will use multilevel modeling to (1) evaluate the impact of the individual versus the combined interventions on students' self-determination and other functional, transition, and academic outcomes and (2) explore moderating (e.g., student demographics, other secondary data normally collected by the district) and mediating (e.g., self-determination status when leaving high school, changes in teacher and student behavior, fidelity, and goal attainment) effects. The multilevel models will account for the nesting of students within teachers and teachers within schools within districts.