Adapted Cognitive Assessment Laboratory (ACAL)

Educational Liaison Program (ELP)

The Educational Liaison Program was funded by the Mildred Swanson Foundation

In 2008, we conducted a pilot research project to examine the efficacy of an Educational Liaison Program (ELP) to translate adapted cognitive assessment findings into Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) recommendations that would, in turn, improve children’s special education programs. Twenty-one children diagnosed with cerebral palsy, ages 6-16, were recruited to participate in the ELP. Recommendations were generated and incorporated into school plans. Ratings and comments about the ELP were very positive.

 Participant Grade Level 

 

Grade

 

Frequency

 

Percent

 

Second grade

 

5

 

23.8

 

Third grade

 

4

 

19.0

 

Fourth grade

 

1

 

4.8

 

Fifth grade

 

1

 

4.8

 

Sixth grade

 

2

 

9.5

 

Seventh grade

 

2

 

9.5

 

Eighth grade

 

2

 

9.5

 

Eleventh grade

 

1

 

4.8

 

Other

 

3

 

14.3

 

Total

 

21

 

100.0

 

Participant Special Education Category

 

Category

 

Valid Percent

 

POHI

 

16.7

 

OHI

 

16.7

 

SXI

 

11.1

 

LD

 

5.6

 

AI

 

22.2

 

More than one category

 

11.1

 

Other

 

11.1

 

CI

 

5.6

 

Total

 

100.0

 

 

  Pre-ACAL IEP ratings

 

 

Minimum

 

Maximum

 

Mean

 

Std. Deviation

 

IEP document contains detailed descriptions of student abilities

 

-2.00

 

2.00

 

.0000

 

1.00000

 

IEP document contains specific and detailed accommodations

 

-2.00

 

1.00

 

.0909

 

.83121

 

IEP document contains specific and detailed curriculum modifications

 

 

.00

 

 

2.00

 

 

.8333

 

 

.75277

 

 

IEP document contains specific reference to progress in the general education curriculum

 

-3.00

 

3.00

 

-.2000

 

1.47573

 

IEP document contains specific reference to assistive technology

 

 

-2.00

 

 

3.00

 

 

.6000

 

 

1.42984

 

 

IEP document clearly portrays a specific and individualized overall education plan

 

-3.00

 

1.00

 

-.0909

 

1.04447

 

 

 

STUDY RESULTS:

Each family participated in an intake process which included a structured interview. Overall, parents reported that they were not satisfied with their child’s current (pre ELP) IEP Goals and Objectives in three specific areas: Access to curriculum; Least restricted environment (LRE); and, Assistive technology (AT).

The table below shows perceptions of improvements in the extent to which IEPs, held with ELP participation, contained specific and detailed curriculum modifications and specific reference to assistive technology.

 Change in IEP ratings after ACAL Participation

 

 

Minimum

 

Maximum

 

Mean

 

Std. Deviation

 

IEP document contains detailed descriptions of student abilities

 

-2.00

 

2.00

 

.0000

 

1.00000

 

IEP document contains specific and detailed accommodations

 

-2.00

 

1.00

 

.0909

 

.83121

 

IEP document contains specific and detailed curriculum modifications

 

 

.00

 

 

2.00

 

 

.8333

 

 

.75277

 

 

IEP document contains specific reference to progress in the general education curriculum

 

-3.00

 

3.00

 

-.2000

 

1.47573

 

IEP document contains specific reference to assistive technology

 

 

-2.00

 

 

3.00

 

 

.6000

 

 

1.42984

 

 

IEP document clearly portrays a specific and individualized overall education plan

 

-3.00

 

1.00

 

-.0909

 

1.04447

 

           Note: Ratings are the ratings from ELP IEPs minus the ratings from IEPs held prior to ELP participation.

 

 63% of parents agreed that ELP recommendations were implemented into their child’s final IEP document. 85% of these participants felt that the decision to incorporate ELP recommendations was voluntarily accepted by the IEP team. For example, 100% of parents reported that AT was discussed during the ELP IEP meeting and were reflected in the final document. Finally, parents were asked to rate the extent to which they felt that having an ELP member present at the IEP meeting was helpful. Ratings were positive (table below).

  
Helpfulness of having an ELP Team Member Present

 

 

Valid Percent

 

Very helpful

 

80.0

 

Pretty helpful

 

20.0

 

Fairly

 

0.0

 

Somewhat

 

0.0

 

Not at all

 

0.0

 

Total

 

100.0

 

 

In the table below, parent ratings of IEPs held with ELP participation show generally positive perceptions of the meeting and of the final IEP document. Ratings of ‘3’ and ‘4’ reflect agreement with statements. Lower agreement was noted in the extent to which the IEP document provided information about the child’s interests and the parents’ sense that they had learned something new about their child in the course of the IEP meeting.

Parent Ratings of IEP meeting with ELP Participation

 

 

Minimum

 

Maximum

 

Mean

 

Std. Deviation

 

IEP meeting accurately portrayed child's strengths in academics

 

3.00

 

4.00

 

3.7500

 

.45227

 

IEP accurately portrayed child's academic needs

 

2.00

 

4.00

 

3.7500

 

.62158

 

IEP meeting accurately portrayed child's strengths in daily living skills

 

1.00

 

4.00

 

3.5000

 

.90453

 

Meeting accurately portrayed child's strengths in social skills

 

2.00

 

4.00

 

3.6667

 

.65134

 

Meeting provided information about child's current interests

 

 

1.00

 

 

4.00

 

 

2.8333

 

 

1.19342

 

 

Meeting provided information about child's future goals

 

1.00

 

4.00

 

3.2500

 

.96531

 

Parent learned something new about child in IEP meeting

 

 

1.00

 

 

4.00

 

 

2.6667

 

 

1.07309

 

 

IEP meeting changed parent ideas about appropriate curriculum choices

 

1.00

 

4.00

 

3.0000

 

.95346

 

IEP meeting changed parent ideas about appropriate accommodations

 

1.00

 

4.00

 

3.0000

 

.95346

 

IEP meeting changed parent ideas about appropriate transition plans

 

1.00

 

4.00

 

3.0000

 

.92582

 

Parent left meeting with new ideas for working with child

 

1.00

 

4.00

 

3.5000

 

.90453

 

Parent was satisfied with child's IEP

 

3.00

 

4.00

 

3.9167

 

.28868

 

    Note: 1=strongly disagree; 2=disagree slightly; 3=agree slightly; 4=strongly agree

 

COMMENTS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS: 

These pilot data suggest relatively positive views of the effects of ELP IEP participation including specific benefits in the areas of curriculum modifications and assistive technology accommodations. Families reported that ELP involvement was very helpful and, in some cases, transformative.

Clearly, there is room for further improvement. A key issue that came up repeatedly, stemmed from the distinction between the ELP mission to translate lab/clinic findings into recommendations and the family’s needs for more general special education advocacy that at times went beyond the scope of the ELP mission. There also remains the general issue of educating families about special education rights and resources.