Improving Educational Identification in Rural Communities
University of Colorado, Denver
Global Autism Public Health
The overall goal of this research project is to test the effectiveness of a distance learning model to improve educational identification of autism in rural and underserved areas. Building on a 10-year training collaboration with the Colorado Department of Education, the investigators will provide three levels of professional development and support to school districts across the state. These levels are: (1) web-based modules on screening/assessment for autism in school settings; (2) supported implementation of a teacher nomination strategy to screen children for ASD school-wide; and (3) case consultation to school teams via secure/confidential videoconferencing. To measure the impact of this approach, the investigators will collect data on the number of schools and educators who agree to participate, the number of children nominated (i.e., deemed "at risk" for possible ASD) per school, the number who participate in an assessment, and the number who are identified as having an ASD. The investigators plan to document the amount of personnel time required to implement the screening protocol and follow-up case consultations, as well as gather data on feasibility and acceptability from educational team members and parents in participating districts. The overall effectiveness of this approach will be assessed by examining objective Child Count data collected through Part B, with the goal of increasing the number of students with autism who receive the appropriate and timely educational eligibility by 30% (above data reported for school year 2009, which will be available in July, 2011). Implementation and program evaluation are the final steps of the program of technical assistance in educational identification. This project is endorsed by the Colorado Department of Education Autism Task Force, the Colorado Autism Commission, and several special education directors in districts around the state.