Leadership profiles associated with the implementation of behavioral health evidence-based practices for autism spectrum disorder in schools
Implementation of evidence-based practice (EBP) for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the education system is a public health priority. Leadership is a critical driver of EBP implementation but little is known about the types of leadership behaviors exhibited by school leaders and how this influences the context of EBP implementation, particularly for students with ASD. The objectives of this study were to determine (1) the leadership profiles of principals involved in EBP implementation for students with ASD and (2) how these leadership profiles related to school characteristics and implementation climate. The Exploration, Preparation, Implementation, Sustainment (EPIS) framework was used to guide the design and analysis of this study. Participants (n = 296) included principals, teachers, and classroom support staff. They provided demographic information and completed the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire and Implementation Climate Scale. Using latent profile analysis, a three-pattern solution was identified: Disengaged (6% of sample), Undifferentiated (23% of sample), and Optimal (71% of sample). Principals in schools with higher proportions of students with an individualized education program were more likely to be classified as Undifferentiated than Optimal. The Optimal group was associated with more positive implementation climate than the Undifferentiated or Disengaged groups. Findings suggest that leadership behaviors rated by principals and their staff involved in implementation of common autism EBPs can be meaningfully clustered into three discernible profiles that are shaped by organizational context and linked to strategic implementation climate. Our study findings have implications for leadership training and service delivery in schools by underscoring the critical nature of school leadership during implementation of EBPs for children with autism and the interplay between specific leadership behaviors and strategic implementation climate.
Stadnick, N. A., Meza, R. D., Suhrheinrich, J., Aarons, G. A., Brookman-Frazee, L., Lyon, A. R., . . . Locke, J. (2019). Leadership profiles associated with the implementation of behavioral health evidence-based practices for autism spectrum disorder in schools. Autism, 1362361319834398. doi:10.1177/1362361319834398