Skip Navigation

Autism Spectrum Disorders


- OR -


- OR -


- OR -

FY Awards

- OR -

Modular Approach for Autism Programs in Schools (MAAPS)

Year: 2020
Name of Institution:
May Institute
Goal: Efficacy
Principal Investigator:
Anderson, Cynthia
Award Amount: $3,299,999
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2020 – 06/30/2024)
Award Number: R324A200154


Co-Principal Investigator: Iadarola, Suzannah; Iovannone, Rose

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to test the efficacy of an individualized, comprehensive modular intervention system, the Modular Approach for Autism Programs in Schools (MAAPS). MAAPS integrates evidence-based strategies to address core and associated features of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to enhance the success of elementary students with ASD in schools. The primary aim is to evaluate whether, compared to services as usual, MAAPS improves teacher/instructional personnel outcomes and subsequent student educational outcomes.

Project Activities: In Years 1 and 4, the researchers will recruit 12 schools each year (4 schools per site for May Institute, University of Rochester Medical Center, and University of South in Massachusetts, New York, and Florida respectively). In Years 2 and 3 the researchers will recruit 18 schools (6 schools per site) for a total of 60 schools across all four years. Recruitment will occur each summer; in the fall, researchers will screen and enroll eligible teachers (approximately two per school) and students with ASD who work with each participating teacher (approximately 1 student with ASD per teacher) for a total of 120 teachers and 120 students. Schools will be randomly assigned to participating in the MAAPS intervention or to be in a waitlist control group. Research staff will serve as coaches who will train and provide ongoing consultation to the school personnel implementing MAAPS over the course of one academic year. Researchers will also assess outcomes for students and school personnel. Waitlist control schools will receive MAAPS interventions in the next school year.

Products: Products include information about the efficacy of MAAPS for students with ASD when implemented by personnel in elementary public schools, as well as peer-reviewed publications and presentations and a final dataset. Researchers will also provide project information on a project website and provide access to the MAAPS materials upon request; they will also disseminate information through other relevant websites for educators and parents of students with ASD. A summary infographic on study results will be developed to disseminate within the respective communities.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in public elementary schools in New York, Massachusetts, and Florida with varying demographics.

Sample: The sample will include 120 teachers and 120 students with ASD.

Intervention: The Modular Approach for Autism Programs in Schools (MAAPS) provides a collaborative framework for setting individualized intervention goals, selecting modular interventions that best address the goals, developing intervention steps that are feasible for teachers, and using active coaching to support teachers as they implement the selected interventions. MAAPS was fully developed with a prior development grant from IES (R324A150032) and was vetted by national experts and stakeholders (teachers, administrators, parents), and shown to be feasible and have promise for improving student outcomes.

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will use a cluster randomized controlled trial with schools as the unit of randomization to test the efficacy of MAAPS. Schools will be randomized in equal numbers to either MAAPS or a waitlist control group that will receive MAAPS at the start of the subsequent school year. At the beginning of each school year, sites will screen and enroll eligible teachers and students with ASD to participate in the study.

Control Condition: A wait-list control group will be services as usual (typical practices teachers use to teach and support students with ASD).

Key Measures: An independent evaluator (who is not part of the research project) will measure overall student functioning using the Developmental Disabilities modification of the Children's Global Assessment Scale (DD-CGAS) and the evaluator will be masked to student assignment condition. Goal Attainment Scaling measure will be used to assess individual student progress towards goals. The Social Skills Improvement System will be used to assess social communication and interaction and the Children's Communication Checklistwill be used to measure communication skills. The Children's Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scales-ASD will be used to assess restricted and repetitive behavior, interests, and activities. Teacher ratings and independent observation data will be collected of core and associated features of ASD. Teacher buy-in and social validity will be assessed using the Usage Rating Profile-Intervention (Revised). Researcher developed teacher implementation measures will be used to assess coach and teacher fidelity of implementation of the MAAPS approach. Data will also be collected on costs of MAAPS in order to understand cost-effectiveness of MAAPS.

Data Analytic Strategy: The researchers will use latent growth curve modeling to compare growth rates of the two groups (MAAPS and control) across the year. Teachers and students who work with the same coach will be considered a cluster for the purposes of the analyses. Researchers will analyze costs using an ingredients methodology by identifying the amounts of the program inputs and then assigning prices to those inputs to estimate cost. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) will be calculated to determine cost effectiveness.

Related IES Projects: Development and Pilot Testing of the Students with Autism Accessing General Education (SAAGE) Model R324A150032