The Center on Secondary Education for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders (CSESA) is a multisite research and development center funded by the U.S. Department of Education that focuses on developing, adapting, and studying a comprehensive school- and community-based education program for high school students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
Research and analysis are ongoing.
The CSESA comprehensive model includes five components—(1) Foundations; (2) Academics; (3) Social Competence; (4) Transition and Families; and (5) Personal Responsibility, Independence, and Self-Management (PRISM)—that focus on developing, adapting, and studying a comprehensive school- and community-based education program for high school students with ASD. These components work together to best meet the needs of students, school staff members, community partners, and families. The components recognize and build on student strengths, address a wide range of student needs, and help to prepare students for varied postsecondary options.
Across 5 years, researchers from six universities collaborate with schools, businesses, families, and adolescents with ASD to build and study a high school program that supports optimal outcomes for students in high school and after graduation.
The CSESA project consists of two phases: a development phase (years 1–2) and an efficacy phase (years 3–5). In the development phase, CSESA teams adapt existing instructional strategies, interventions, curricula, and procedures in the specific component areas for use with adolescents with ASD. By the end of this phase, each component will be manualized and integrated into the central CSESA model, and a plan for assessing implementation and professional development to promote implementation will be established. In the efficacy phase, high schools will be randomly assigned to a CSESA or a business-as-usual condition, implementation will be assessed in both conditions, and student performance will be analyzed. The high schools, students, and families will participate in the study for 2 years, with 1 year of follow-up (for one cohort).
In addition to this program of research, investigators will conduct supplemental studies that address important questions related to secondary education of students with ASD (to be determined in collaboration with the funding agency). CSESA will also provide national leadership through national summits, papers, journal publications and special issues, conference presentations, an interactive website, and other activities to be determined in collaboration with the funding agency.
The MCPER research team will adapt Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR) to meet the needs of high school students with ASD during study years 1–2. Researchers will investigate the reading, behavioral, and social outcomes of implementing an adapted version of CSR (CSR-HS) for adolescents with ASD.