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Archived News: Across Virginia
October 2013

Exciting Things to Report from Newport News Public Schools!

Summer has ended with anticipation of new learning and exciting challenges in the Newport News School Division! In response to the Virginia General Assembly Bill 325, Newport News has encouraged all Instructional Assistants to take the VCU-ACE online course, Autism Spectrum Disorders for Paraprofessionals: Providing Effective Instruction and Supports. In August, Instructional Assistants, who work in the self-contained classrooms for students with autism and had already taken the ACE online training, participated in a 2-day training on evidence-based practices presented by Wendy Clayton (NNPS) and Charlene Wentland (VCU-ACE). This training was developed to bridge the ACE online training to classroom practice. The goal for the training was to provide support for implementation of the strategies learned into the classroom environment. The next steps in this process will be for coaches to provide modeling and fidelity checks on practice in the classrooms this fall.

In August, self-contained teachers and SLPs participated in a workshop presented by Taryn Goodwin, ACE Training Associate, to review the VB-MAPP assessment tool and to prepare for an upcoming training in October. Teachers are expected to have 3 assessments completed by the October training date in preparation for further instruction on developing IEP goals, data collection, and VB-MAPP goals and objectives. Communication programming is a priority goal in Newport News!

All self-contained ASD classroom teams in Newport News are working on the goals set based on results from the APERS (Autism Program Environment Rating Scale – National Professional Development Center on ASD) assessment completed last school year. Two Professional Learning Communities were formed in the spring as a result of the APERS assessment goals. Secondary teachers have been studying Social Skills instruction through their Professional Learning Community. At Warwick High School and Denbigh High School the students with ASD are involved in social skills groups this fall as a result of the professional learning community work of their teachers. Both of these groups include students with ASD and neurotypical students. Elementary teachers have been working on developing, individualizing, and using visual supports for their students. The Professional Learning Communities will begin meeting again in October.

Newport News is now working in collaboration with the New Horizons Regional Special Education Program on training and administration of the APERS. This collaboration will benefit both programs in being able to administer and utilize this great assessment tool! The Autism Service Improvement Team (ASIT) in Newport News has worked hard to establish higher expectations for programming for students with autism spectrum disorders and continues to set the bar at the next level so that student outcomes will continue to improve. Go Prairie Dogs!!


News from the VA ABA Consortium!

VCU has recently received notification from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc. ® that they are now officially able to offer an Approved Course Sequence that, with other requirements, will lead students to be eligible to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Examination®. Applicants will have to meet additional supervised experience and degree requirements to qualify to take the exam. VCU continues to partner with the Virginia ABA Consortium, a four university collaboration that also includes George Mason University, Lynchburg College, and Old Dominion University. The first cohort of this consortium is currently finishing their final course and the second cohort is well under way. The third cohort will begin in the Fall semester of 2014 and applications will be available soon! For more information about the program, please visit the VCU-ACE website or contact Dr. Selena Layden at


Great News for VA in the Area of Early Screening and Diagnosis of ASD!

The Partnership for People with Disabilities at Virginia Commonwealth University recently received funding for a project titled "Autism Spectrum Disorder Screening and Diagnosis: Early Systematic Training in Effective Practices (ASD Early STEP)." The grant project is a collaborative effort with the Partnership, VCU-ACE, and Commonwealth Autism Service. The project provides three years of funding to train professionals who serve young children, including early interventionists, pediatricians, and others, in three state locales. Family members of children suspected of having ASD will also receive training and support. VCU-ACE is excited be a part of this grant opportunity!


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