An Efficacy Study of the School-based National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders Model (NPDC)

Project: Research project


Title: An Efficacy Study of the School-based National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders Model (NPDC)
Topic and Goal: Professional Development for Teachers and Related Services Providers, Efficacy (Goal 3)
Purpose: To document the efficacy of a widely used professional development model that promotes program quality, teachers’ use of evidence-based practices (EBPs), and outcomes for elementary school-age children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The study will respond to a national need to prepare teachers to design effective, research based educational programs for children with ASD.
Setting: The study will take place in 60 elementary schools in North Carolina. These schools will be distributed across urban, suburban, and rural areas.
Sample: School staff (e.g., teachers, related service providers, administrators, etc.) will participate in the NPDC professional development. A minimum of 10 students with ASD in each school will also participate (n = 600). Students will be enrolled in inclusive and non-inclusive program options. Approximately 50% of the participants will come from minority families (i.e., primarily Black/African American, Latino).
Intervention: The professional development model serving as the “treatment” variable in this study was developing by the NPDC, has been used with agencies in 12 states, and is currently being used to train hundreds of teachers in the U. S. and other countries. The model consists of forming a team at the building level, taking an online course, participating in an intensive summer workshop, assessing program quality, using program quality information for program improvement, developing measureable student goals, linking goals to EBPs, and implementing EBPs to achieve student goals. A significant feature of this model will be the coaching and feedback provided by research staff and local district personnel.
Control Condition: Schools in the control condition we will receive awareness training about ASD, develop measureable student goals, receive information about program quality, and otherwise will provide “services as usual.”
Research Design and Method: A cluster randomized controlled trial design will be employed in which schools are randomly assigned to treatment and control conditions.
Key Measures: The Autism Program Quality Rating Scale, Teacher Inventory of Evidence –Based Practices, and assessment of fidelity of EBP use will be the service provider measures employed. The proximal student measure will be the PET-GAS, and distal student measures will consist of a battery of standardized assessment that measure social, communication, academic, and challenging behavior. An implementation index will track implementation of the model in NPDC and SAU schools.
Data Analytic Strategy: A multilevel HLM model will be used to determine differences on school-level and student level variables. A mediational analysis will determine the relative association of quality and EBP use to student outcomes. A correlational analysis will explore the association of systems variables with implementation of the model.
Effective start/end date7/1/156/30/19


  • US Department of Education (DOED)


service provider
development model
research planning
elementary school
rating scale
educational program
research method
rural area