December 10, 2014

Are You a School Administrator...?

One challenge many administrators face is how to evaluate teachers to ensure they are using evidence-based practices in the classroom. Another struggle is how to determine professional development needs of educators. Through the VCU-ACE Administrator Support goal, a tool was developed to help administrators support teachers working with students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The ASD Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria document provides standards aligned with the Virginia Department of Education’s Uniform Performance Standards. Indicators for each standard of performance are included on evidence-based practices for supporting students with ASD. Additionally, a Companion Rubric has been created to provide objective measures for each indicator.

Two seminars provide details of the seven standards and indicators included in the ASD Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria as well as the Companion Rubric. Video examples of many of the indicators are included as well as descriptions of what to look for in classrooms that effectively support students with ASD.

Click here to view these informative seminars.

Hendricks Presents at OCALI Conference

Dawn Hendricks, Director of Training, presented at the OCALI conference in November. OCALI stands for the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence. The conference is a national conference that pulls educators and state leaders from all over the United States. Several presentations highlighting the work of VCU-ACE were on the conference agenda, including: The Paraprofessionals in Autism Resource and Achievement Project; Building Capacity: Statewide Professional Development and Enhancing Communication Skills in Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Expecting More!

Register Soon for January ADOS Training

On Monday and Tuesday, January 26-27, 2015 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Norm Geller will present a Level 1 Workshop on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule 2 (ADOS-2). The ADOS-2 is an instrument for diagnosing and assessing autism spectrum disorder. ADOS-2 is a semi-structured, standardized assessment of communication, social interaction, play, and restricted and repetitive behaviors. It presents various activities that elicit behaviors directly related to a diagnosis of ASD. By observing and coding these behaviors, you can obtain information that informs diagnosis, treatment planning, and educational placement. Workshop attendees are typically professionals who will be qualified to use the ADOS-2 in practice - that is, professionals who, prior to the workshop, have education, background and experience in using individually administered test batteries and who have background and experience in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder. Some examples of clinicians include clinical and school psychologists, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, and speech and hearing professionals. In some cases, schools and clinics will send additional staff to a workshop with a view that a better understanding of the instrument will help their teachers, counselors, special educators, or other program staff make better use of reports based on ADOS-2 results.

The training will be held at the Welcome Center in Bedford, Virginia. The cost of the training is $200 for early birds (registering by December 19th) and $225 after that date. Participants in this training are required to have access to an ADOS manual which can be purchased from WPS (link to for $99.

For more information and to register for either of these workshops, please visit the VCU-ACE website Live Training page or contact Wendy Kulpa, VCU-ACE Adminstrative Coordinator, at or 855-711-6987. Please note, space is very limited for this workshop so register early if interested.

Virginia ABA Consortium

In January 2015, the Virginia ABA Consortium will be accepting applications for the next cohort starting in September 2015! The Virginia ABA Consortium is a collaborative effort between four Universities; George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Lynchburg College, and Old Dominion University. This Consortium offers courses in Applied Behavior Analysis as well as supervised experience designed to prepare participants to apply to sit for the BCBA examination.
The coursework is provided by each of the universities and students are able to attend classes at George Mason University, Lynchburg College, Old Dominion University, or Virginia Commonwealth University. The professor for each course will teach class from any one of the four locations. Courses will be offered using interactive videoconferencing and web conferencing technology so all sites may see, participate, and interact with the professor and fellow students. Students will attend a class each week at one of the four University locations.

Students interested in the program will be in a cohort which is limited to 32 students. The students will complete the courses as a group. A new cohort is scheduled to begin during the Fall 2015 semester. Courses would be taken across six total semesters (Fall, Spring, Summer, Fall, Spring, Summer). Each course is 12 weeks and will occur on Monday evenings from 7:30pm to 10pm. Students with master’s degrees in Education, Psychology, or Behavior Analysis will be given preference for admission.

You must apply and be admitted to the VA ABA Consortium in order to participate. The online application can be found on the Consortium website or by following this link: If you are accepted to the Consortium, you will be instructed on how to apply to your chosen university. Applications will be accepted using rolling admission but preference will be given to individuals who apply prior to April 1.

For more information on the Virginia ABA Consortium, please visit our website.

Talking to the Board VCU ACE Presents at the Virginia School Board AssociationTalking to the Board: VCU-ACE Presents at the Virginia School Board Association

As we have worked with school divisions in Virginia to improve services for children and youth with ASD, we have had the opportunity to meet with everyone from paraprofessionals to teachers to administrators to superintendents. One group with whom we at ACE technical assistance have had little interaction is school board members. That changed in late November when VCU Technical Assistance Director, Dr. Carol Schall had the wonderful opportunity to talk about building school division capacity at the annual Virginia School Board Association Conference in Williamsburg.

Carol presented on the ACE training and technical assistance model and the progress and challenges that ACE’s cohort 1 schools experienced. The attendees represented school boards from across the state and were most interested in how they could learn more about the “bottom up/ top down” model of systems change that ACE uses when working with school divisions in Virginia. More specifically, she described the “bottom up” intervention as those supports that teachers and paraprofessionals can implement in the classroom to improve outcomes for children and youth with ASD. Those intervention outcomes are measured by the Autism Program Improvement Rating Scale in these 11 domains:

• Learning environment,
• Positive classroom climate,
• Assessment and IEP development,
• Curriculum and instruction,
• Communication,
• Social competence,
• Personal independence,
• Functional behavior,
• Family involvement,
• Teaming

She described the “top down” phase of the model to include both division wide project and increasing administrator knowledge of educational methods for children and youth with ASD. The school board members who attended this session were most interested in the successes achieved by the first cohort of school divisions in the project. Carol spoke highly of the group and enjoyed the opportunity to share this information with this unique group of participants.

Register for the VCU-ACE Webcast Series

VCU-ACE has a number of different webcasts which will air in the coming months. The topics for these webcasts were chosen in response to the needs of educators, parents, and individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Register for the entire series at once so you don’t miss a single webcast.

Upcoming webcasts include:
Cool Tools for School Success
In Their Own Words: The Career Planning Experiences of College Students with ASD
3 R’s To Bullying Prevention for Students with Disabilities: Recognize, Respond, and Report
Teaching Social Communication Skills to Young Children with Autism Using Naturalistic Developmental Behavioral Interventions (NDBIs)
Parent Coaching: Teaching Parents Strategies to Promote Their Child's Development

Have a Very Happy and Safe Holiday Season!