Relationships Matter: The Association between Parent-Teacher Alliance, Parent Stress, and Student Outcomes

Poster Presentation
Saturday, May 4, 2019: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Room: 710 (Palais des congres de Montreal)
M. Adams1, Y. Yu2, K. Pinkman3, J. H. McGrew4 and L. A. Ruble1, (1)University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, (2)Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN, (3)Department of Educational School and Counseling Psychology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, (4)Psychology, Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN

Positive parent-teacher relationships are critical for student success generally (Garbacz, McIntyre, & Santiago, 2016) and are paramount for students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) who require coordinated plans that promote generalization of skills across home and school (National Research Council, 2001). Parents and teachers agree that collaboration and communication are critical for the education of students with ASD (Syriopoulou-Delli, Cassimos, & Polychronopoulou, 2016). Furthermore, stronger parent-teacher alliance has also been associated with lower stress for parents of younger children with ASD (Krakovich, et al., 2016). For transition age youth (TAY) with ASD, collaboration and coordination may be especially important given their poor outcomes (e.g., employment, friendships, community engagement) compared to peers with other disabilities (Anderson, et al., 2014) and the increased parental demands when navigating new systems. Thus, successful interventions for TAY may work in part through establishing and leveraging a stronger parent-teacher alliance. Accordingly, as part of a randomized controlled trial of an adaption of Collaborative Model for Promoting Competence and Success (COMPASS) for transition age youth with ASD we examined intervention impacts on alliance and the association between alliance and student and parent outcomes. COMPASS is a student-centered, teacher coaching intervention that results in improved IEP outcomes (Ruble et al., 2018) and encourages collaboration by bringing together the student’s parent and teacher.


The goals were to examine the relationships between parent-teacher alliance and IEP goal achievement and parenting stress respectively and to examine whether COMPASS results in measurable improvements in parent-teacher alliance.


Participants included 20 students with ASD (nfemale = 18, nmale = 2), their parent/caregiver (nfemale = 18, nmale = 2), and their primary special education teacher. The mean age of students was 18.2 years (SD = 1.1; range: 17-20 years). Seventy percent of students were White. Participants completed baseline assessments before random assignment to one of two groups: COMPASS intervention (N = 11) or placebo control (N = 9). The Parent Teacher Alliance Questionnaire (PTAQ) and the Parenting Stress Index – Fourth Edition Short Form (PSI-4 SF) were completed by the parents/caregivers to measure parent-teacher alliance and parenting stress, respectively. Parents also completed a brief questionnaire about student’s progress on IEP goals.


Based on parental reports, stronger parent-teacher alliance was related to higher IEP goal achievement (r = -.62, p < .01) and decreased parenting stress (r = .50, p < .05). A one-way analysis of covariance (controlling for baseline alliance scores) indicated a trend toward significance between the two groups on post-intervention alliance [F(1,14) = 2.87, p = .11], with a medium effect size (η2 = .17). Also at a trending level, the level of alliance improved from Time 1 (M = 41.44, SD = 13.36) to Time 2 (M = 35.56, SD = 9.32) for the intervention group, t(8) = 1.94, p = .088.


Stronger parent-teacher alliance is associated with greater student improvements and lower stress as perceived by parents. The findings also suggest that COMPASS may improve parent-teacher alliance. Further research with larger samples is necessary.