WWC review of this study

Employing Evidence-Based Practices for Children with Autism in Elementary Schools

Sam, Ann M.; Odom, Samuel L.; Tomaszewski, Brianne; Perkins, Yolanda; Cox, Ann W. (2020). Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED609046

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    465
     Students
    , grades
    K-5

Reviewed: January 2023

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

Academic Performance Rating Scale (APRS): Academic success

National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (NPDC) comprehensive program model—Sam et al. (2020) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
465 students

19.00

18.60

No

--
More Outcomes

Social Skill Improvement System-Rating Scale (SSiS-RS) teacher version: academic competence

National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (NPDC) comprehensive program model—Sam et al. (2020) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
465 students

88.20

89.30

No

--
Expressive Communication outcomes—Indeterminate effect found for the domain
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Social Communication Questionnaire-Lifetime (parent-reported)

National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (NPDC) comprehensive program model—Sam et al. (2020) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
465 students

20.50

22.60

No

--
More Outcomes

Children's Communication Checklist-2 (CCC2): General communication composite

National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (NPDC) comprehensive program model—Sam et al. (2020) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
465 students

78.20

77.50

No

--

Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale-II (VABS-II): Communication

National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (NPDC) comprehensive program model—Sam et al. (2020) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
465 students

72.90

72.40

No

--
Functional Skills outcomes—Indeterminate effect found for the domain
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale-II (VABS-II): Daily Living Skills

National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (NPDC) comprehensive program model—Sam et al. (2020) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
465 students

73.30

73.60

No

--
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 Assessment Rating Scale for preschool/elementary students (APERS-PE)

National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (NPDC) comprehensive program model—Sam et al. (2020) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
59 schools

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
29
 
Student Behavior outcomes—Statistically significant positive effect found for the domain
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Psychometric Equivalence Tested-Goal Attainment Scale (PET-GAS): total score

National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (NPDC) comprehensive program model—Sam et al. (2020) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
465 students

2.70

2.07

Yes

 
 
26
 
More Outcomes

Academic Performance Rating Scale (APRS): Academic productivity

National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (NPDC) comprehensive program model—Sam et al. (2020) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
465 students

36.50

35.50

No

--

Academic Performance Rating Scale (APRS): Impulse control

National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (NPDC) comprehensive program model—Sam et al. (2020) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
465 students

8.50

8.30

No

--

Social Skills Improvement System-Rating Scale (SSIS-RS): Social Skills Scale

National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (NPDC) comprehensive program model—Sam et al. (2020) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
465 students

79.40

79.20

No

--

Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale-II (VABS-II): Socialization

National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (NPDC) comprehensive program model—Sam et al. (2020) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
465 students

72.40

73.80

No

--

Social Skills Improvement System-Rating Scale (SSIS-RS): Problem Behaviors

National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (NPDC) comprehensive program model—Sam et al. (2020) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
465 students

112.70

111.60

No

--

Repetitive Behavior Scale - Revised (RBSR)

National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (NPDC) comprehensive program model—Sam et al. (2020) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
465 students

0.50

0.60

No

--


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: 21%
    Male: 79%

  • Rural, Suburban, Urban
  • Race
    Asian
    6%
    Black
    26%
    Other or unknown
    9%
    White
    59%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    18%
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    83%
  • Eligible for Free and Reduced Price Lunch
    Free or reduced price lunch (FRPL)    
    54%
    Other or unknown    
    46%

Setting

This study took place in 59 public elementary schools in a Southeastern state. The elementary schools were located in urban, suburban and rural areas. The study took place with students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in special education and inclusive programs. In these settings, students with ASD spent the majority of the day in a special education classroom and were provided opportunities to participate with general education students at certain times throughout the day.

Study sample

A total of 465 students in kindergarten through grade 5 were included in the study. The 465 students were in 59 elementary schools. All students recruited for the study had a diagnosis of ASD and qualified for special education under state guidelines. Approximately 79% of the students were male and 54% were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Fifty-nine percent of students were White, 26% were Black, 6% were Asian, and 9% did not specify a race or identified as multiracial. Eighteen percent were Hispanic or Latino and 83% were non-Hispanic or Latino. The researchers randomly assigned 40 elementary schools to the intervention group and 20 elementary schools to the comparison group and one intervention school left the study before it could be completed.

Intervention Group

Intervention schools had a National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (NPDC) coach who spent 6 hours per week at each school. A measure of school climate was administered within the first 10 weeks of the intervention, and the research team used the results to develop a plan with two areas of need for improving school climate. The NPDC coach and Autism team ("A-team"), consisting of the school principal and three school staff, met 4 times per year to address progress on the school plan. NPDC coaches worked with the A-team and other school personnel to identify three Goal Achievement Scale (GAS) goals per student (goals focused on academics, social skills, communication, school readiness or other areas) and selected an evidence-based practice (EBP) from a list of 27 EBPs that Wong et al. (2015) identified as effective that would address these goals. NPDC coaches conducted pre-observation meetings, observations, and post-observation debriefs to coach teachers on selected EBPs.

Comparison Group

Comparison schools also had an NPDC coach assigned but received less support. Specifically, after pre-test data were collected the coach checked in via email two or three times to answer questions from school staff. A-team staff at comparison schools received a basic orientation and access to optional learning modules. A measure of school climate was conducted, but unlike the intervention group, the research team did not assist the comparison group with developing a plan based on the results.

Support for implementation

NPDC coaches received extensive training on the program model before initiating work with a school and had frequent supervision from research staff. The A-team at each intervention school received an orientation to the program model, a review of EBPs, an Introduction to Autism overview, and a session on using the GAS to set measurable goals for students. Comparison group A-teams received a half day of orientation including using the GAS and received access to trainings required of the intervention group. The orientation and trainings for the comparison group were optional. The research staff checked in approximately 2-3 times per year through email with the A-team at each comparison school.

 

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