Project Summary

PCORI implementation projects promote the use of findings from PCORI-funded studies in real-world healthcare and other settings. These projects build toward broad use of evidence to inform healthcare decisions.

This PCORI-funded implementation project is expanding the use of a school-based program shown to improve executive functioning and classroom behaviors for students with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

ASD and ADHD are health conditions that affect how people learn and relate to others. Children with ASD and ADHD often have problems with executive functioning. Issues with executive functioning can lead to long-term problems with education, independent living, and quality of life.

What is the goal of this implementation project?

Children with ASD and ADHD often need support with executive functioning skills such as planning and flexibility. Clinics offer services to support these skills. But many children with ASD and ADHD, especially those with low incomes, don’t have access to clinic services.

A PCORI-funded study found that a school-based program called Unstuck and On Target, or UOT, improved executive functioning and classroom behaviors for students with symptoms of ASD and ADHD. Students maintained these gains one year later.

This project will expand the use of UOT to more than 200 schools to improve executive functioning among students with ASD and ADHD.

What will this project do?

In UOT, school staff actively teach students how to plan, set goals, and be flexible. The project team will make the in-person UOT training for school staff an online training so that any school with internet access can offer UOT. The project team will

  • Work with schools, parents, and other education leaders to figure out how to offer UOT in a variety of school settings, including schools in rural areas
  • Transfer content from the in-person UOT training to an online platform
  • Train school staff through the online platform
  • Provide support to school staff who deliver UOT

What is the expected impact of this project?

This project will develop processes and then show what’s required to successfully deliver UOT with virtual training and remote support for school staff in a variety of school settings. In this project, up to 2,000 students in third to fifth grade who have ASD or ADHD will receive UOT; these students may not otherwise receive services to support executive functioning. The project evaluation will confirm that UOT is working as intended to improve students’ executive function.

School districts have expressed a commitment to expanding the program after this project ends. The project team will create materials to support rollout to other schools based on experience in this project.

More about this implementation project:

Stakeholders Involved in This Project

  • State Offices of Special Education
  • Institute for Innovation and Implementation’s Online Training Center, University of Maryland, Baltimore
  • School districts across Colorado and Virginia

Implementation Strategies

  • Adapt in-person school staff training by transferring existing content to an online platform.
  • Adapt the UOT program to work with schools’ existing resources and workflows.
  • Provide educational materials to parents through online portal, as handbook and series of videos.
  • Train school staff to deliver the UOT program through online modules.
  • Identify and prepare state-level champions from participating school systems.
  • Provide technical assistance to schools, including coaching support.

Evaluation Outcomes

To document implementation:

  • Number of students receiving the program
  • Number of school staff receiving training
  • Number and description of staff delivering the program
  • Additional measures of fidelity of program delivery and sustainability
  • Implementation barriers and facilitators

To assess health outcomes:

  • Improvements in executive function via classroom observations and parent reports

Project Information

Laura G. Anthony, PhD
University of Colorado Denver

Key Dates

March 2020
May 2023

Initial PCORI-Funded Research Study

This implementation project focuses on putting findings into practice from this completed PCORI-funded research study: Improving Classroom Behaviors among Students with Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder


Health Conditions Health Conditions These are the broad terms we use to categorize our funded research studies; specific diseases or conditions are included within the appropriate larger category. Note: not all of our funded projects focus on a single disease or condition; some touch on multiple diseases or conditions, research methods, or broader health system interventions. Such projects won’t be listed by a primary disease/condition and so won’t appear if you use this filter tool to find them. View Glossary
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Project Details Type
Last updated: December 5, 2022