Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


32nd Annual Convention; Atlanta, GA; 2006

Event Details

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Symposium #380
CE Offered: BACB
Evidence-Based Practice and Special Education: An Analysis of Cultural Contingencies
Monday, May 29, 2006
3:00 PM–4:20 PM
Area: EDC; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: John E. States (Wing Institute)
Discussant: Timothy A. Slocum (Utah State University)
CE Instructor: Ronnie Detrich, M.S.

The purpose of this symposium is to examine the characteristics of culture within special education, analyze how these characteristics either facilitate or obstruct a movement toward evidence-based practices. We focus on special education because it has largely been ignored in the education reform efforts and, in many ways, it is a separate system from general education. Specifically, we will examine the role of formal and informal contingencies and how they relate to evidence-based practice in special education. Those contingencies operate at several levels. We propose an expanded model of an evidence-based education approach that requires both a demonstration of efficacy in controlled research conditions but also demonstrations of effectiveness once practices are taken to scale and implemented under usual conditions; a continuum of rigor that allows decision makers when the best available evidence does not meet the most rigorous standards of research. Finally, we propose a set of steps that can be taken to build an evidence-based culture within special education.

An Expanded Model of Evidence-based Practice in Special Education.
RONNIE DETRICH (Wing Institute), Randy Keyworth (Wing Institute), John E. States (Wing Institute)
Abstract: The movement toward evidence-based education requires that we define what is a necessary and sufficient demonstration for evidence. It is the perspective of this paper that the necessary demonstration of evidence is not only a demonstration that an intervention is efficacious (producing results in a controlled research setting) but it is also necessary to demonstrate that the intervention is effective (producing results when taken to scale). A demonstration that a procedure is efficacious is an important step but it is critical as evidence based procedures are applied more broadly that consideration is given to the various social and political contingencies that may ultimately impact the effectiveness of an intervention. A simple example is that an intervention that is efficacious but is not acceptable to teachers expected to implement it is not likely to produce the expected results because the teachers are not likely to implement the intervention with sufficient integrity to produce the results. In addition to proposing a model of evidence-based practice that includes demonstrations of effectiveness, some of the common social and political contingencies that may negatively impact wide scale implementation will be described. Examples of successful and unsuccessful large-scale implementation will be considered for illustrative purposes.
The Evidence Based Practice Bandwagon: Should Behavior Analysts Jump On? Can We?
MARK D. SHRIVER (Munroe-Meyer Institute)
Abstract: Although behavior analysts have previously discussed the need to bridge the divide between basic and applied research and the need to more effectively disseminate behavior analytic technology and principles, it is apparent that behavior analysis techniques and principles are still not widely accepted or used. In the past decade, there has been an increasing emphasis in education, medicine, and psychology as well as federal policies and legislation on the identification and dissemination of evidence based practices (EBP). In essence, there is a bandwagon of support across professional and governmental groups for EBP. Fads come and go and typically it is best to stay off bandwagons. It can readily be argued; however, that applied behavior analysis (ABA) is all about EBP. Barriers to the dissemination of ABA technology and principles for EBP are obstructing ABA’s jump on this bandwagon. This paper presents on some of those barriers including definitional issues (i.e., what do we disseminate?), research to practice issues (i.e., ABA research is not practice) and issues in how we disseminate technology and principles (i.e., ABA as an organization does not have a strategy to disseminate research to practice or EBP). Possible solutions to overcoming these barriers are presented.
Getting There From Here: Creating an Evidence-based Culture within Special Education.
JOHN E. STATES (Wing Institute), Randy Keyworth (Wing Institute), Ronnie Detrich (Wing Institute)
Abstract: At each level in the special education culture there exist obstacles to implementing evidence-based practices. This paper will provide suggestions for each level within the special education culture. From a systems perspective, it is important that each level of the system has pieces in place that promote evidence-based practices. Failing to do so will result in the ultimate collapse of an evidence-based culture. One of the critical features of an evidence-based culture is that there is evidence for decision makers to evaluate. A second feature is that the decision makers routinely interact with the data. Curriculum based measurement shows great promise for bringing decision makers into regular contact with the relevant data. Other levels within the special education system also require attention if evidence-based practice is to become the primary working model for decision-making. As an example, the due process procedures built in as a safe-guard for parents has become so expensive for school districts that they often agree to settle disputes rather than proceed with a hearing to determine services. Problems arise when the settlement results in the adoption of unvalidated procedures.



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