Increasing Number of Students with Autism
In the 10-year span from 2004 to 2014, the number of students served under IDEA Part B with a disability category of autism rose by 202% (U.S. Department of Education, 2018). With the continued rise in the number of students with autism, more teachers are faced with the challenge of meeting the unique needs of these students.
To support teachers and provide meaningful professional development, administrators need to be familiar with key components of successful classrooms for students with autism. Using fidelity checklists, such as the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities Classroom Fidelity Checklist or the VCU-ACE Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria Rubric for Special Education Teachers can be an effective means of establishing division, school, or classroom training needs and goals.
Professional development opportunities can, then, be structured to meet the specific goals relevant to your team. When considering how to best meet the professional development needs of teachers, administrators should look beyond the traditional lecture style trainings. Research has shown that when professional development opportunities include active learning opportunities, practice, and collaboration, teachers are more likely to improve their practice (Sparks & Loucks-Horsley, 1989; Lieberman, 1996).
To Learn More
For more information on building professional learning communities in your school, the following books are available in the T-TAC ODU Lending Library:
- Schools as Professional Learning Communities: Collaborative Activities and Strategies for Professional Development
- Learning By Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work
- Professional Learning Communities by Design: Putting the Learning Back into PLCs
If you would like assistance with using fidelity checklists; establishing classroom, school, or division goals related to meeting the needs of your students with autism; developing professional development opportunities; or addressing other autism related needs, contact T-TAC ODU’s Autism Specialist, Teresa Crowson.
Lieberman, A. (Ed.). (1996). Practices that support teacher development: Transforming conceptions of professional learning. In M. W. McLaughlin & I. Oberman (Eds.), Teacher learning: New policies, new practices (pp. 185–201)
Sparks, D., & Loucks-Horsley, S. (1989). Five models of staff development for teachers. Journal of Staff Development, 10(4), 40–57.
U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2018). Digest of Education Statistics, 2016 (NCES 2017-094), Chapter 2.