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.


36th Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2010

Event Details

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Symposium #74
Teacher Preparation and Education Reform: A Behavioral Systems Perspective
Saturday, May 29, 2010
3:30 PM–4:50 PM
Texas Ballroom Salon D (Grand Hyatt)
Area: EDC/OBM; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Ronnie Detrich (Wing Institute)
Discussant: Charles L. Salzberg (Utah State University)
Abstract: Any educational reform effort ultimately depends on classroom teachers’ ability to carry out the reform agenda. This is certainly the case when teachers are required to implement scientifically based instructional practices to improve student literacy outcomes. In this symposium, we will address teacher preparation from a behavioral systems perspective and address issues of what do we know about the critical skills for teachers that impact student outcomes; how often do teacher preparation programs teach these skills and how well do they teach them; and finally, how well do universities and districts support teachers as they work in public school classrooms. Currently, teacher education could generously be characterized as lacking coherency. There is little agreement about what should be taught, how it should be taught, and little attention is given to effectively supporting teachers in their schools. A behavioral systems perspective helps us identify that effective teacher education requires that all three issues of what to teach, how to teach it, and how to support the newly acquired skills is necessary if successful, sustainable education reform is to be achieved.
What We Know About Effective Teaching
RONNIE DETRICH (Wing Institute)
Abstract: Effective teaching can only be determined by answering the question, effective at doing what? From a behavioral perspective that question is answered with improving student performance. Unfortunately, not all education professionals share this perspective. As a consequence, there is considerable variability about what are the critical skills for teachers. From a behavioral systems perspective, a coherent approach to education must start with clear specification of the important outcomes. Our bias is improved student performance. This bias is shared by current attempts at educational reform such as teacher accountability and efforts to identify highly qualified teachers. However, we can only hold teachers accountable if we have a system that assures that teachers have been given the skills to influence student outcomes. The current state of affairs in education would suggest that pre-service and professional development has failed this requirement. In this session, we will address what is known about the important teacher skills for that impact student performance. Knowing these critical skills allows for a more coherent design of teacher preparation and support. Failing to address these critical skills will result in many teachers being unsuccessful and students failing to make progress.
200 Years of Teacher Preparation: What Have We Learned?
JOHN E. STATES (The Wing Institute)
Abstract: Research strongly suggests the most powerful intervention we can select to improve student achievement is a quality teacher in every classroom. Although we have been training teachers in the United States for 200 years, only recently have we asked: What empirical evidence exists for what constitutes effective teacher training? Despite this vast practical knowledge base, educators do not agree on what comprises a list of critical teaching skills. Another serious gap in our knowledge is the lack of rigorous research linking teacher performance to student achievement. Without this information teacher preparation programs cannot develop effective curricula to maximize student outcomes. The available research comparing teacher preparation models currently suggest little difference between current methods. Recent efforts in Value-added research promise an approach capable of identifying which preparation programs produce the best teachers for improving student achievement. The purpose of this paper is to examine the available teacher preparation research, identify where behavior analysis can have the greatest impact, and recommend topics for further research.
Teacher Induction: Where the Rubber Meets the Road
RANDY KEYWORTH (The Wing Institute)
Abstract: The current educational infrastructure fails miserably in preparing new teachers for the demands of teaching in real world settings. Teacher preparation programs seldom focus on critical teaching skills and most schools do not provide support to help new teachers gain fluency in these skills. The result is an extraordinarily high teacher turnover rate for new teachers (46% will leave the field within five years) and a very low effectiveness rate (teacher experience is one of the critical indicators of teacher performance). The missing component all teachers is an on-the-job, ongoing system of coaching and performance feedback to improve skill acquisition, generalization and maintenance. In education this is called induction. In behavior analysis it is called performance management. Existing induction programs focus on providing teachers with mentoring and support during the first 1-2 years of their career, are narrowly focused, and are limited to few staff in a school setting. Effective performance management requires coaching and feedback across all levels of an organization (systems, policies, resources, values, and contingencies). Coaching and feedback become part of the evidence-based education process. The result is a system in which all teachers, administrators, and support staff continually learn new skills and improve their performance.



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