From Staff Reports

Corsicana ISD has been awarded nearly $1.7 million through the TEA’s Innovative Services for Students with Autism Grant Award Program.  

The grant is designed to instill evidence-based practices (EBP) for students with autism, build capacity for all educators and parents of students with autism, and cultivate a professional network within the region that can serve as a vehicle for continued and sustained innovation, collaboration and resource sharing.

Project TRIBES (Texans in Rural and Inclusive settings, accessing Behavioral and Educational Supports) has created a collaborative effort between Corsicana ISD and the nine districts served by the Freestone-Navarro Bi-County Coop, and department of special education staff at Texas A&M Commerce. Corsicana ISD has been leading the way to offer a more inclusive environment for students with special needs to ensure they feel welcomed, supported, and understood. 

“We are excited to lead and serve as a model for other districts through the replicable programs and systems created through this innovative grant,” said Dr. Diane Frost, CISD Superintendent. 

This innovative grant was written by Shana Owen, Director of Special Programs, and Dr. Kelly Carrero, Texas A&M University at Commerce Associate Professor. 

The grant includes the following elements:  

  •  Create and implement a tiered-logic approach for assessing, categorizing and treating children with ASD based on their present levels of performance in areas of academics, adaptive behavior (including, sensory and emotion regulation) and social-emotional and mental wellness.  
  • Build capacity of educators (i.e., general and special education teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators and related service providers) and parents of students with autism to use EBPs to promote progress and support for students with autism in the areas of skill acquisition, social communication, social interaction, managing restricted and repetitive behaviors, sensory regulation and adaptive behaviors both within and across instructional settings (this includes community-based instruction). A summer Autism Academy and periodic staff and parent training are planned to cover these topics.   
  • CISD and Bi-County Coop teachers will collaborate as a community of practice and create an online cloud-based repository that will host materials and resources that will be accessible to all educators included in the grant.   
  • Purchase, training and implementation of curriculum specially designed to use with students with autism.  
  • Support classroom teachers using innovative bug-in-the-ear technology to allow for live coaching by a behavioral specialist.  
  • Use innovative virtual reality applications to explicitly teach social skills to students with autism. 

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