Encouraging Research Partnerships Between Universities and Schools
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Published on Aug 15, 2012
Claudia Dunaway, MA, CCC-SLP, and Emily Rubin, MS, CCC-SLP, discuss the benefits of research partnerships between universities and schools.
"The partnership between San Diego Unified School District and Florida State University [FSU]was many years in the making, and there were several primary reasons. I think the most important one is that we have a very innovative staff that adheres to best practices. And the second was that the District moved to a more inclusive model for students with autism spectrum. And so many speech pathologists knew about the work of Barry Prizant and Amy Wetherby and Amy Laurent and Emily Rubin. And we were looking for a tool that would help us make the shift in practice, and we knew that the SCERTS Model would be important, so we invited Emily Rubin to come down and be a consultant for us. And she came, and out of that relationship when FSU got the grant, it naturally turned to San Diego Unified to see if we would be interested in participating."
"With respect to this research grant and how it looks in schools, it's called the Classroom SCERTS Intervention and it's being led by my colleagues, Dr. Amy Wetherby and Dr. Linda Morgan at Florida State University. It's a $3 million grant that was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education and their Institute of Educational Sciences. The districts that are participating in this grant are San Diego Unified School District as well as a number of districts from Calhoun, Leon, and Volusia County, Florida. The current project is focused on kindergarten-aged students through about second grade, and the participating schools are going to be randomly assigned into two treatment groups. One is obviously the treatment group where the educational model is implemented, and others are the controlled condition. The SCERTS Model that is being tested is a comprehensive educational framework, which differs from more focused approaches that are looking at particular symptoms or particular skills. The comprehensive educational framework targets the core challenges of children with autism spectrum and those that are most predictive of positive outcomes in the longer term. Those participating in this particular study are going to be provided with initial training, as well as ongoing mentoring and follow-up and coaching provided by Florida State University's grant with the hope and the impetus that we're building a sustainable model for a public school system that can be implemented for years beyond the influence of this particular grant."
"I think it's critical that school districts and universities form partnerships for research. It's part of our professional responsibility, and proximity really doesn't matter. San Diego Unified School District has research relationships with universities across the country, and both groups have so much to gain. Universities have access to diverse, large populations of students, and they have very competent speech pathologists who can collect the data for them. And then school districts can determine what methods really work in an education setting, and there's also a lot of financial benefit that comes from the research funding."
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