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Archived News: What's New
October 2013

Planning for Change in the VCU-ACE Cohort 1 Technical Assistance Divisions!

-- Staci Carr, VCU-ACE Technical Assistance Coordinator

It is hard to believe that the VCU-ACE Technical Assistance project has started its third year with the Cohort 1 divisions. These eight public school divisions and one regional program have made a lot of progress in a little time! As we look back at their progress, much of which has been chronicled here in our E-news, we are reminded of the saying by anthropologist, Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” All of the divisions from this first cohort have lived up to that quote. They have embraced systems change and coaching as a way of changing practice within their divisions. As we enter our “wind-down” year and begin the move from intensive in-division support to the follow-along phase, the divisions have proven to be fully invested in maintaining the goals developed and charging forward to address additional division-wide initiatives to meet the educational needs of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Realizing the importance of scaffolding and providing ongoing support to these divisions, VCU-ACE has developed a plan to do just that. In year three, every division will engage in a collaborative assessment process and establish plans to continue their work on goals and systems change as the VCU-ACE Technical Assistance Associates (TAAs) fade from their direct work in divisions. VCU-ACE will also provide guided follow-along in years 4 and 5 of the model. In year four, VCU-ACE TAAs will continue to provide guidance to division staff who oversee the project within the division, and will assist in completing fidelity checks and helping the division maintain their efforts to improve services for youth with ASD. By year 5, VCU-ACE TAAs will provide faded support and encouragement to Cohort 1 divisions.

After year 5, these first divisions that were accepted into the VCU-ACE Technical Assistance program become part of a community that will be available for support and problem solving on an ongoing basis. As new cohorts join this community we hope to spread collaboration and consistency across the state.

(VCU-ACE Cohort 1 school divisions are: Arlington, Botetourt, Greensville, Hampton, Henrico, Newport News, Richmond City, Wise County, and the Northern Neck Regional Special Education Program)

Coming Up in the November ENews – Information on Applications for Cohort 2!!


An Update on the PARAPro Project at VCU-ACE!

VCU-ACE had a busy summer training paraprofessionals -- almost 1,000 people went through the online course Autism Spectrum Disorder for Paraprofessionals: Providing Effective Instruction and Supports in June, July, and August! This course was launched in April, 2012, and to date, VCU-ACE has trained over 3,500 people through both online and live training. The online course is offered each month and consists of five modules. The modules cover the characteristics of ASD, a brief history of ASD, dignity and respect, the IEP process, the roles of the paraprofessional, instructional strategies and supports, environmental supports, social and communication instruction, and behavior supports. An activity book allows participants to apply the knowledge and skills they learn to both case studies and their own jobs. As a reminder, the VCU-ACE course for paraprofessionals does meet the requirements of H.B. 325. If you have any questions about the VCU-ACE course for paraprofessionals, please contact Dr. Selena Layden at

***Please note – due to the holiday break for public school divisions, the Autism Spectrum Disorder for Paraprofessionals: Providing Effective Instruction and Supports course will not be offered in the month of December. Registration for the January and February sessions is now open.


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