Evaluating IEPs of Elementary School Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Virginia Tech


The prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has increased 54.7% from 2000 to 2016 nationally (CDC, 2016), and comparably, 52.38% in the district where this program evaluation was conducted. This increase, paired with legislative requirements through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and recommendations from the National Research Council on educating students with ASD, has challenged school districts to develop programming targeting specific impairments characteristic of students with ASD. The purpose of this study was to evaluate programming through the evaluation of individualized education plans (IEPs) of students with ASD in kindergarten through third grade for the presence of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requirements and National Research Council recommendations. Additionally, 13 special education teachers providing services to one or more students in the category of ASD completed a 30 item self-report questionnaire on their confidence in developing IEPs and programming for students with ASD. Sixty-three IEPs were evaluated in the study for IDEA and NRC indicator proficiency levels and cross-referenced with teacher confidence levels on developing IEPs and programming for students with ASD. The study concluded data analysis of IEPs and special education teacher confidence levels resulted in the identification of programming strengths and weakness that can be used by the district in this study to develop a structured plan for improvements in the development of IEPs specific to the identified areas of impairments for students with ASD (behavior, communication, socialization). Specific to the district in this study is a recommended focus on the development of IEP goals based on individual student needs and NRC recommendations for students with ASD, descriptions of student motivational systems when appropriate, specially designed instruction, educational placement and the relationship of teacher knowledge and confidence about ASD to IEP and program development.



autism, ASD, IEP