Virginia Skill Competencies
ACE uses the Skill Competencies for Professionals and Paraprofessionals in Virginia Supporting Individuals with Autism Across the Lifespan, identified and developed by the Virginia Autism Council, to guide all training efforts. The Council has also released the Skill Competencies for Professionals and Direct Support Staff in Virginia Supporting Adolescents and Adults with Autism. Both skill competencies have a number of intended uses. Specifically, they are intended to (a) assist service providers in identifying areas of need for professional development; (b) influence the development of coursework and certificate programs in institutes of higher education; (c) provide information to incorporate into existing courses and programs in institutes of higher education; and (d) guide the organization of staff development initiatives and selection of training topics.
The Competencies are designed to guide best practice in supporting individuals with autism across the Commonwealth of VA. They are based on evidence-based strategies that have been identified through research to be effective for the treatment, education, and support of individuals with autism in school and community-based settings. Eight competency areas have been identified, to include both knowledge-based and specialized skills for use in practical settings. The statements address essential competencies at four different skill and experiential levels: Paraprofessional/Direct Service Staff, Professional/Direct Service Staff, Master Professional/Direct Service Staff, and Advanced Degree/Program Developer/Specialist.
In conjunction, a Skill Competencies Tracker and Summary / Guide document have been designed to align with the competencies, and to document professional development activities as well as the level of proficiency for each of the Virginia Skill Competencies. A separate Skill Competency Tracker for Paraprofessionals has also been created. The Trackers can be used to document when professional development activities/training have been completed and to record the level of proficiency achieved based on these three levels:
1. Knowledge and Skills Attainment (Beginning) - are developed through learning experiences and training activities. It is in this phase the person is able to identify and explain the content and procedures involved in the Skill Competency and is beginning to apply it in practice.
2. Capacity Building (Intermediate) - is the integration of learning experiences in which knowledge and skills interact and are applied. It is at this level where direct teaching and coaching result in demonstrated abilities. It is in this phase the person is able to demonstrate the skill in practice and is beginning to perform the skill independently and with fidelity. The person is able to ask questions to improve performance and gain clarity.
3. Proficient - is the consistent and accurate application of knowledge, skills and abilities. It is recommended for a person to be considered proficient that his or her performance is assessed by someone who is skilled and knowledgeable in the content (e.g. supervisor, lead professional, specialist). It is in this phase the person is able to demonstrate the competency with fidelity and can integrate content in the context of a classroom within a team framework.
How to Use the Tracker
The Skill Competencies Tracker can be used in three different ways:
- it is designed to be used by an individual as a self-monitoring device;
- it can be used by an outside observer or supervisor to document areas of professional development; and
- it may be used by organizers of professional development activities to document training and development activities provided to professionals and paraprofessionals.
The VA Autism Council has developed a short video to introduce the Skill Competencies and to explain the importance of using them when working with students with ASD. On this 7 minute video, members of VAC answer the following questions:
- What are the Skill Competencies?
- How were the competencies developed?
- What are the 2 types of competencies?
- What areas are covered by the competencies?
- Who can use the competencies?
- In what ways can the competencies be used?
- What is the Tracker document?
- How can this supplemental document be used?