WWC review of this study

Efficacy of a School-Based Comprehensive Intervention Program for Adolescents with Autism

Hume, Kara; Odom, Samuel L.; Steinbrenner, Jessica R.; Smith DaWalt, Leann; Hall, Laura J.; Kraemer, Bonnie; Tomaszewski, Brianne; Brum, Christopher; Szidon, Kate; Bolt, Daniel M. (2022). Exceptional Children, v88 n2 p223-240 Jan 2022. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1323805

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    59
     Schools
    , grades
    9-12

Reviewed: December 2023

At least one finding shows promising evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
School Climate outcomes—Statistically significant positive effect found for the domain
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Autism Program Environment Rating Scale (APERS)

Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism (CSESA) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
59 schools

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
36
 
Show Supplemental Findings

Autism Program Environment Rating Scale (APERS): Instruction

Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism (CSESA) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
59 schools

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
32

Autism Program Environment Rating Scale (APERS): Assessment and IEP domain

Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism (CSESA) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
59 schools

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
29

Autism Program Environment Rating Scale (APERS): Transition composite score

Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism (CSESA) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
59 schools

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
29

Autism Program Environment Rating Scale (APERS): Social domain

Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism (CSESA) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
59 schools

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
26

Autism Program Environment Rating Scale (APERS): Teaming domain

Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism (CSESA) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
59 schools

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
23

Autism Program Environment Rating Scale (APERS): Communication domain

Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism (CSESA) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
59 schools

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
16

Autism Program Environment Rating Scale (APERS): Functional behavior domain

Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism (CSESA) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
59 schools

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
16


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 14%
    Male: 86%

  • Rural, Suburban, Town, Urban
    • B
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    California, North Carolina, Wisconsin
  • Race
    Asian
    4%
    Black
    13%
    Native American
    3%
    Other or unknown
    11%
    Two or more races
    7%
    White
    62%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    19%
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    75%
    Other or unknown    
    6%
  • Eligible for Free and Reduced Price Lunch
    Free or reduced price lunch (FRPL)    
    40%
    No FRPL    
    60%

Setting

The study took place in 60 public high schools across 24 districts. Districts were located in North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Southern California, and 20 schools from each state participated. Forty percent of districts were in urban areas, 45% in suburbs, and 15% in rural areas. Slightly over half of participating schools (55%) were Title I eligible. All participating schools enrolled students with and without disabilities. Schools ranged in size from 832 students to 3,079 students.

Study sample

The researchers randomly assigned 30 schools to the intervention group and 30 schools to the comparison group. A total of 547 high school students (303 intervention and 244 comparison) were initially enrolled in the study. To be eligible for the study, students had to have a primary or secondary classification of autism, be expected to be in the school for two school years, and must not have a severe uncorrected visual or hearing impairment. All students in the sample were classified with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and had individualized education programs. Approximately 86% of participating students were male and an average of 40% of students at each study school were eligible for free and reduced-price lunch. Sixty-two percent of the students were White, 13% were Black, 11% had an unknown race, and less than 10% were in each of the following racial groups: Asian, Native American, or two or more races. Three-quarters of participating students were non-Hispanic, 19% were Hispanic, and 6% did not report ethnicity.

Intervention Group

The Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism (CSESA) model is a comprehensive program for high school students with autism. CSESA is designed to support academics, peer relationships and social competence, independence and behavior, transitions, and families. It consists of multiple school staff who are trained to implement the model (called the “A-team”), including one or more special education teacher(s), general education teacher(s), other services personnel, and a school administrator. The A-team assessed their school’s strengths and weaknesses in supporting students with autism, assessed the needs of students, and developed a plan to improve specific school practices to better support students with autism. Each component was implemented for at least one semester with each student and the CSESA model was implemented over two years.

Comparison Group

Comparison group schools did not offer the full CSESA model, but CSESA coaches provided some support to school staff. CSESA coaches helped comparison schools form an A-team at the beginning of the school year and provided a schoolwide workshop on autism. Additionally, they conducted training on goal setting, and provided resources such as websites and informational handouts, and baseline information on the school’s strengths and weaknesses in supporting students with autism. However, comparison schools did not receive any support or guidance from CSESA coaches on which school practices to improve or how to improve them.

Support for implementation

All intervention schools received training and implementation support from CSESA coaches, who were professionals with expertise in education and autism. Coaches helped intervention schools form the A-team at the beginning of the school year and they helped the A-team plan the intervention components based on data on school quality and student needs. Coaches provided an initial 3-hour training, which introduced them to both the CSESA model and the research study, and a schoolwide orientation to autism. Coaches also provided 1 to 3 hour workshops and follow-up coaching throughout the 2-year implementation period. Overall, intervention schools received an average of 16 hours of workshop training and 123 hours of coaching.

 

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