Building Statewide Capacity through the Autism Cadre

A Partnership Between the Kentucky Autism Training Center, Kentucky Department of Education, Special Education Cooperatives and Local School Districts

In spring of 2009 the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) and the Kentucky Autism Training Center (KATC) partnered to establish a statewide autism cadre of approximately 750 members to forward the following goals:

  • Provide ongoing training to district level staff on evidence-based practices for students with ASD so that they could provide training at the district level.
  • Establish networks of support between professionals from different districts and special education cooperative regions.
  • Establish local problem solving teams at the district level across Kentucky.

Coop group standing


Kentucky is divided into 9 special education cooperative regions. Complex needs consultants provide technical assistance in each region. KATC works with the complex needs consultants to drive the ASD cadre; the consultants already met several times a year to drive other state initiatives (e.g., alternative assessment, new teacher training). At the district level, representatives from 95% of local districts were identified by the director of special education based on an application process developed by KDE. Participants were selected based on their ability to translate cadre training material back to the local district. Cadre members represent a myriad of roles within a school district: SLPs, OTs, General Education Teachers, Special Education Teachers, Directors of Special Educations, Early Childhood Diagnosticians, Psychologists, Autism Specialists, Consultants, and Pre-school Teachers.

Rob Pennington collaborating


KATC develops quarterly training materials to be given to the special education coop consultants. Consultants were grouped into super clusters, containing three to four coop regions. Super clusters met to clarify content and share resources for training; in some instances consultants provided cross cooperative trainings. KATC attended these meetings in-person or via Skype to clarify training materials upon request. After review of the materials the cooperative consultants delivered a 6-hour training to the district level professionals. Participants received 4 trainings each year for a total of 24 hours of professional development.

Kentucky Department of Education logo


In the fall of 2011 the KATC disseminated a survey to cadre members. 218 members responded.

97% of the participants indicated that the cadre training have positively impacted their professional practice

The cadre has unified our teachers and staff (paraprofessionals) affording the same level of understanding in effective practices and instructional techniques. My greatest learning as a director has been in the area of the 24 research based practices and the utilization of the various checklists and other information that assists our programs and our teachers and staff to be more effective with intentional plans for every aspect of the IEP needs for each student.

69% of the participants reported being prepared to be effective problem solvers in ASD

These trainings have increased my knowledge base significantly. I feel much more comfortable in implementing research based practices into my daily routines and I also much more confident and comfortable in talking with others about ASD in general and also modeling things I have learned and how to use them.

District Highlights

Several districts have reported that cadre members have conducted trainings at the local district level.

Districts have reported developing local problem solving teams and using cadre members to address district challenges associated with meeting the needs of students with ASD.

Map of Kentucky Counties with Special Education Cooperatives