Expert Answer :Article Summary


Solved by verified expert:Instructions: Find and article and write a one page summary for each of the articles identifying three main points. Ex. the research question, interesting facts and the finding. Topic: Individual Education Plan (IEP) How are schools implementing IEP? AND What outcomes are anticipated with an IEP?Topic: Self Esteem How can you help build Self Esteem in Children? AND How can you help build Self Esteem in Adolescents?Topic: Family Involvement What role do you play in helping student’s with grief, separation and a family loss? AND What resources outside of school are available for these students?Topic: Family Involvement (Community Resources) Identify resources (National, State Wide, and Local) that are available for families? AND Identify agencies (National, State Wide, and Local) that are available for families? Attached are the articles.


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J Autism Dev Disord (2010) 40:1459–1470
DOI 10.1007/s10803-010-1003-1
Examining the Quality of IEPs for Young Children with Autism
Lisa A. Ruble • John McGrew • Nancy Dalrymple
Lee Ann Jung

Published online: 6 April 2010
Ó Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010
Abstract The purpose of this study was to develop an
Individual Education Program (IEP) evaluation tool based
on Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
requirements and National Research Council recommendations for children with autism; determine the tool’s
reliability; test the tool on a pilot sample of IEPs of young
children; and examine associations between IEP quality
and school, teacher, and child characteristics. IEPs for 35
students with autism (Mage = 6.1 years; SD = 1.6) from
35 different classrooms were examined. The IEP tool had
adequate interrater reliability (ICC = .70). Results identified no statistically significant association between demographics and IEP quality, and IEPs contained relatively
clear descriptions of present levels of performance.
Weaknesses of IEPs were described and recommendations
Keywords Individual education programs 
National research council  IDEA  IEP quality 
IEP objectives  Educating children with autism
L. A. Ruble (&)  N. Dalrymple
Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology, University of
Kentucky, 237 Dickey Hall, Lexington, KY 40506-0017, USA
J. McGrew  N. Dalrymple
Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis,
Indianapolis, IN, USA
L. A. Jung
Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling,
University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA
The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a multidisciplinary, team-developed plan required for every child
receiving special education services under Part B of the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004). The
IEP is the educational map for children with disabilities. As
described in Public Law 108–144, legally required components of the IEP include (a) the child’s present level of performance; (b) measurable annual goals; (c) how the child’s
progress toward meeting the annual goals will be measured
and when periodic reports on the progress the child is making
toward meeting the annual goals will be provided; (d) the
special education (i.e., specially designed instruction) and
related services and supplementary aids and services, based on
peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable, to be provided to the child; (e) program modifications or supports for
school personnel that will be provided for the child; (f) the
extent to which the child will not participate with nondisabled
children in the regular classroom; and (g) individual appropriate accommodations that are necessary to measure the
academic achievement and functional performance of the
child on state and districtwide assessments (PL 108-446
2004). As shown above, in the recently amended version of
IDEA (2004), emphasis has been placed on accurate and
objective measurement of student progress. Although IDEA
delineates broad, minimum required components of the IEP,
the law allows states to determine any additional requirements, specific procedures, and format for the IEP. Thus, IEPs
may take on many different forms and styles.
The special education literature provides additional
information that is helpful in implementing the requirements of IDEA for developing IEPs and complement the
IDEA requirements. For example, IEPs should address
students’ individual strengths and needs, and include a
timeline (Jung et al. 2008) for meeting objectives that are
specific (Jung 2007), measurable (Jung 2007), observable,
and easily connected to classroom activities (Smith and
Slattery 1993). Unfortunately, research indicates that many
IEPs may be lacking in their consistency with recommended practice. In particular, IEPs have tended to include
inadequate descriptions of present performance (Gartin and
Murdick 2005), goals that were neither specific nor measurable (Michnowicz et al. 1995), and expectations that
were unrealistic and misaligned with children’s abilities
(Johns et al. 2002). Further, many contained placement
recommendations that appeared to be based upon eligibility
criteria rather than performance (Johns et al. 2002).
The issues that arise from these shortcomings in IEP
development have been the source of numerous legal battles for the specific disability category of autism (Etscheidt
2003). For the population of children with autism, disputes
arising from IEPs have increased in recent years and are
characterized as the fastest growing and most expensive
area of educational litigation (Etscheidt 2003). Contributing to the growth in IEP litigation for students with autism
is the startling increase in identified students. Schools
served almost 260,000 children with autism in 2006 (IDEA
2006), which although small relative to the total number of
US students, represents a more than 500% increase within
this eligibility category in the last decade (GAO 2005;
Safran 2008). Common concerns from parents about the
IEP process include difficulties in (a) being viewed as
equals in making educational decisions regarding their
children; (b) IEP objectives’ being properly followed in the
classroom; (c) being fully informed about special education
law and their rights, and (d) classroom practices, such as
ineffective discipline programs and inappropriate placement decisions (Fisher and Meyer 2002).
Despite the drastic increase in numbers of students who
have autism, and the growing base of IEP litigation for this
population, reliable information on the content, effectiveness, and outcomes of IEPs for students with autism is
missing from the literature (Wilczynski et al. 2007). An
examination of the IEPs of children with autism in the
context of IDEA requirements and nationally-recommended practice is needed to begin to describe the particular strengths and weaknesses of IEPs for this
population. Furthermore, understanding possible factors
that are associated with the quality and content of IEPs may
help to identify teacher and student variables important to
target in preservice training, professional development, and
school district and state monitoring and accountability.
Accordingly, the aims of the current study were to (a)
develop an IEP evaluation tool, (b) determine whether the
tool could be administered with adequate reliability, (c) test
the tool on a pilot sample of IEPs written for young children diagnosed with autism, and (d) examine potential
J Autism Dev Disord (2010) 40:1459–1470
associations between IEP quality and various teacher and
child characteristics important for future research. Because
there is little to no information on the relations between
IEP quality and teacher and school factors, no directional
hypotheses were proposed.
Thirty-five teachers of students with autism between the
ages of 3 and 9 years were recruited from one midwestern
and one southern state as part of a larger randomized
controlled study on teacher consultation and coaching for
young children with autism (Ruble et al. 2008). Initially,
school systems were approached at the district level, and
special education directors were asked to participate. A
total of 79 teacher/child pairs were screened; 4 did not
meet eligibility requirements, 15 declined to participate,
and 21 refused for other reasons. Although we did not
systematically collect data on refusers, there was no evidence of sampling bias at either the district or school level
in terms of numbers or proportion participating. Once
permission was obtained, a list of names of all teachers of
students with autism was provided and teachers were
contacted directly by the research team. After agreeing to
participate, the researchers asked teachers to submit the
initials of all the students with autism on her caseload or in
her classroom. To qualify for the study, students had to be
receiving special services according to the IDEA category
of autism and meet the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
definition of Autistic Disorder (DSM-IV-TR; APA 2004)
which was confirmed by an evaluation conducted by the
research team. From the list of initials provided by the
teacher, the research team randomly selected one student.
The teacher requested permission from the parent/guardian’s of the student to be contacted directly by the
Two of the school systems were located in large cities
and 14 were in small cities or in rural areas. A total of 15
teachers/students from urban schools (in cities with populations greater than 300,000 people) participated. The
remaining 20 teachers/student participants were from rural
or small city schools. Both teachers and parents or caregivers provided informed consent to participate. The mean
age of the students was 6.1 years (SD = 1.7); 83% of the
students were male, 74% of the students were Caucasian,
23% were African American, and 3% were bi-racial (see
Table 1). Twenty-eight percent of household incomes of
the students was less than $24,999; 36% fell between
$25,000 and $49,999; and 36% was above $50,000
(income was not provided by eight caregivers).
J Autism Dev Disord (2010) 40:1459–1470
Table 1 Description of teacher, student, and IEP variables
Total number years working with students with autism
Total number students with autism
Adaptive behavior (SS)
Language level (SS)
Cognitive level (CGA)
Autism severity
Number of goals
Number of objectives
Speech therapy (N = 33; min/week)b
Occupational therapy (N = 31; min/week)c
Physical therapy (N = 4; min/week)
This includes all types of school based activities—teaching, assessment, intervention, consultation, and training
Amount of tie for services was missing for three students
Amount of time for service was missing for three students
Amount of time for service was missing for two students
Ninety-four percent of the teachers were female
(N = 33). The teachers’ average class/caseload size was
12.8 students (SD = 7.9). Ninety-four percent (N = 33) of
the teachers reported that they had formal autism training
such as coursework, supervised field work, workshops, and
in-services. Thirty-four percent of the teachers reported
that in addition to teaching, they also possessed assessment
skills for students with autism. Another 25% of teachers
reported that they had also served as a consultant or trainer
to other teachers.
For this study, a measure of IEP Quality for Students with
Autism (see Appendix) was constructed using both (a)
IDEA requirements for IEPs (e.g., measurability) and (b)
National Research Council (2001) recommendations for
educating children with autism.
IDEA-Related Indicators
There were eight indicators included on the tool which
were based on IDEA requirements for IEPs of all students
with disabilities, not only those with autism. The first item,
scored dichotomously (0 = no; 2 = yes), measured the
overall quality of the description of the student’s present
levels of performance and asked if the child’s performance
was described relative to the general or developmental
curriculum clearly enough to establish well-written
objectives. The remaining seven items were treated as a
separate set of items and were based on the quality of the
written descriptions of IEP objectives: (a) the student’s
present level of performance for the specific objective; (b)
a description of the association between the IEP objective
and the general and/or developmental curriculum; (c) the
measurable and behavioral description of the objective; (d)
the conditions under which the behavior is to occur; (e) the
inclusion of specific criteria and a timeline for goal
attainment for each objective (i.e., not just the implied
timeline from the IEP as a whole); (f) a method of goal
measurement; and (g) the description of specially designed
instruction (SDI) that is individualized for the goal/objective. This last indicator comes from IDEA’s (2004)
requirement that a statement of the child’s special education be provided in the IEP; IDEA (2004) defines special
education as ‘‘specially designed instruction’’ (IDEA 2004,
p. 11). In all of the IEPs reviewed, which came from one
midwestern and one southern state, a statement of SDI was
provided and the corresponding response format allowed
either open ended or forced choice answers. Because this
information appears to be indicated by IDEA and was
subsequently provided in the IEPs, we included it as part of
the overall quality analysis of the IDEA indicators, recognizing that some states may have chosen a different
format and interpretation of this requirement. Each of the
items were rated using a 3-point Likert scale (0 = no/not at
all; 1 = somewhat; 2 = yes/clearly evident) as applied to a
subsample of specific IEP objectives.
Objectives chosen for scoring were selected to represent
each of the three primary domains of need specific to
autism: (a) a social objective; (b) a communication
objective; and (c) a learning or work skill objective (NRC
2001). However, if an objective addressing one of the three
domains could not be identified within the IEP, then a
behavioral objective, academic objective or other objective
was substituted for coding. A total of 105 IEP objectives
(35 students 9 3 objectives) were selected and coded. To
verify the accuracy of the classification of IEP objectives
into learning domains a two-step process was applied. First,
all of the IEP objectives were written on 3 9 5 cards and
categorized into one of the domains (social, communication, learning/work skills, academic, motor/sensory,
behavioral) by two independent raters. Second, the raters
compared their results and reconciled differences. Raters
agreed on the categorization of over 90% of the objectives
after step one. Overall, 22 social objectives, 33 communication objectives, 29 learning/work skill objectives, 12
academic objectives, five motor objectives, and five
behavioral objectives were evaluated. The mean score
across the three objectives was used as the score for the
IDEA quality indicator. The scores for items 2 though 8
were then summed and a mean score was calculated. For
items to be considered optimal in meeting the recommendations, the item had to be scored a 2.
The total score for the IDEA related items was based on
the mean of two subscores: (1) the score for item one,
which measures the present levels of performance and (2)
the overall mean score of items 2–8, which measures the
quality of the written objectives. Thus, item one contributed half of the weighting to the total scoring for the IDEA
items, and items 2 through 8 contributed the remainder.
Item one was weighed heavily because it set the stage for
whether objectives could be written that were related to
present levels of performance. Total scores ranged from
zero to two.
NRC Quality Indicators
There were nine NRC quality indicators included on the
tool plus two additional items—one that measured extended school year and another that measured the degree to
which specific objectives were individualized from state
academic content standards. The areas selected for analysis
were based on the best practices outlined by the NRC
(2001) and included assessment of the presence of
descriptions of: (a) parental concerns, (b) social skills to
improve involvement in daily activities, (c) expressive,
receptive and non-verbal communication skills, (d) a
symbolic functional communication system, if appropriate,
(e) engagement in tasks or play that are developmentally
appropriate, including an appropriate motivational system,
J Autism Dev Disord (2010) 40:1459–1470
(f) fine and gross motor skills for engaging in age appropriate activities, (g) basic cognitive and academic thinking
skills, (h) replacement of problem behaviors with appropriate behaviors, (i) organizational skills and other behaviors needed for success in a general education classroom,
and (j) full-year programming. Adaptive behavior skills are
assumed to be embedded within the domains of learning
described above.
A 3-point Likert scale (0 = no/not at all; 1 = somewhat; 2 = yes/clearly evident) was used to rate the degree
to which the IEP was consistent with the nine NRC indicators. To be considered adequate in meeting the recommendations, the item had to be scored a 2. Although the
NRC does not specifically recommend extended school
year (ESY) for every child, it does recommend consideration of full year programming relative to the needs of the
child. Therefore, ESY was included as an item: a score of
zero was coded if ESY was not addressed, one if ESY was
addressed, and two if ESY was not only addressed, but also
recommended as a service. NRC guidelines recognize that
in some cases a child may not need ESY. However,
because this is considered to be unusual and to simplify
scoring, the current scoring approach was used, even
though it has the potential to penalize IEPs that discuss
ESY but do not recommend it. A mean overall score was
calculated across all 10 items. Scoring for the NRC indicators included all objectives on the IEP, and was not
limited to the three objectives selected above for IDEA
To establish inter-rater reliability of the IEP Evaluation
Tool, sample IEPs not used in the study were coded separately by two evaluators. Differences in coding were
discussed and revisions made to the IEP Evaluation Tool
until an interrater exact agreement rate of .80 or higher was
established for the entire IEP Evaluation Tool (not for each
item). Three separate 2-h training sessions were required to
develop the final revisions for the coding scheme for the
tool. To verify the reliability of the coding scheme when
applied to the study sample, twenty percent of the IEPs
were randomly selected and coded separately by two raters.
Inter-rater agreement was calculated using intraclass
Teacher Variables
Variables collected included number of years teaching
students with autism and total number of students taught
with autism. Teacher’s perceived knowledge of autism was
assessed using a 15-item self-report measure developed for
the study as part of the teacher training conducted by the
first author (e.g., how knowledgeable are you concerning
the characteristics of autism and their implications for
intervention?). Internal consistency (alpha) was 0.91.
J Autism Dev Disord (2010) 40:1459–1470
School Variable
Geographic location was classified as: (a) rural/small city
(less than 300,000 people) or (b) large city (more than
300,000 people).
Student Variables
Variables examined included degree of autism severity,
cognitive impairment, adaptive behavior level, externalizing behavior, and diagnosis. Autism severity was measured
using the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS; Schopler
et al. 1980), a 15-item observational scale. Example items
include social relatedness, resistance to change, communication, and body use. Items are scored using a 4-point
scale (1 = no evidence of abnormality, 4 = severely
abnormal). In the normative sample, test–retest reliability
for the total score was .88 and the correlation between the
CARS and clinical ratings of autism was .84.
Cognitive impairment was measured using the General
Conceptual Ability (GCA) subscale score from the Differential Abilities Scale (DAS; Elliot 1990). The internal
consistency and test–retest reliability of the GCA exceeds
.89 for all age levels.
Adaptive behavior was measured with the Classroom Edition of the Vineland Ada …
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