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June 16, 2009

Cook et al. 1

Cook, B. G., Tankersley, M., Cook, L., & Landrum, T. J. (2008). Evidence-based practices in special education: Some practical considerations. Intervention in School and Clinic, 44(2), 69-75.

Abstract by Authors:
A major tenet of both the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act is the identification and use of evidence-based practices, or those instructional techniques shown by research as most likely to improve student outcomes meaningfully. However, much confusion exists regarding the meaning and potential applications of evidence-based practices in special education. Evidence-based practices are traditionally supported by the findings of multiple, high-quality, experimental research studies. Rather than changing the nature of teaching or limiting teachers to following prescribed methods, prioritizing evidence-based practices will allow teachers to maximize the impact of their instructional efforts.

June 12, 2009

Eisenhart & Towne

Eisenhart, M., & Towne, L. (2003). Contestation and change in national policy on “scientifically based” education research. Educational Researcher, 32(7), 31-38.

Abstract by authors
In this article, we examine the definitions of “scientifically based research” in education that have appeared in recent national legislation and policy. These definitions, now written into law in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002, and the focus of the National Research Council’s 2002 publication, Scientific Research in Education, are being used to affect decisions about the future of education programs and the direction of education research. Perhaps because of the high stakes involved, there has been some tendency to lump together the definitions emanating from Washington sources. From our perspective as participants in some of this activity, we argue that there are important differences among these definitions and their purposes. Furthermore, we suggest that the various definitions, together with public input about them, can provide leverage for altering the meanings of scientifically based research and education research that are being operationalized in current public policy.

June 6, 2009

Kutash et al.

Kutash, K., Duchnowski, A. J., & Lynn, N. (in press). The use of evidence-based instructional strategies in special education settings in secondary schools: Development, implementation and outcomes. Teaching and Teacher Education.

The lack of effective training and an inability to maintain fidelity are two major barriers to implementing evidence-based practices in schools. This study examined the level of implementation of evidence-based practices by teachers after they participated in a unique training program aimed at enhancing the use of evidence-based practices. The results indicate that five months posttraining, 62% of the evidence-based strategies had been implemented and these levels were maintained 13-months posttraining. While the level of exposure to students of the evidence-based practices was low, significant longitudinal improvements in reading and levels of inclusion were documented.

June 5, 2009

Cook & Schirmer

Cook, B. G. & Schirmer, B. R. (2003). What is special about special education? Overview and analysis. Journal of Special Education, 37(3), 200-205.

Abstract by authors
In this topical issue of "The Journal of Special Education," leading scholars in special education reviewed the literature and investigated whether special education is, indeed, special by examining to what degree (a) effective techniques have been developed for students with disabilities, (b) these effective techniques are applied and implemented with fidelity, and (c) utilization of these techniques is unique to special education. In this article, the authors analyze findings from this special issue regarding what is special--effective, implemented, and unique--about special education. The authors found that effective, empirically supported practices have been developed for students with disabilities, that these techniques are used predominantly in special education, and that these effective practices are not implemented regularly or with fidelity. Recommendations to enhance the implementation of effective, research-based practices are offered.
Empirically-supported practices
-- mostly a clinical term used in psychology and school psychology

June 4, 2009

Pring & Thomas

Pring, R. & Thomas, G. (2004). Evidence-based practice in education: Conducting educational research. Berkshire, UK: Open University Press.

Abstract by ERIC
The book begins with an explication of evidence-based practice. Some of the ideas of its proponents are discussed, including the Campbell Collaboration, and the application to education of Cochrane-style reviews and meta-analyses. The thinking behind evidence-based practice has been the subject of much criticism, particularly in education, and this criticism is aired in the second part of the book. Questions have been raised about what is meant by evidence, about how particular kinds of evidence may be privileged over other kinds of evidence, about the transferability of research findings to practice, and about the consequences of a move to evidence-based practice for governance in education. Given that the origins of the interest in evidence-based practice come largely from its use in medicine, questions arise about the validity of the transposition, and contributors to the third part of the book address this transposition. Following an introduction, the chapters in the book are organized as follows: (1) Research Evidence Should, but Often Does Not, Inform the Development of Policy and Practice in Education; (2) Developing Evidence-Informed Policy and Practice; (3) Teacher Research Evidence; (4) American Perspectives through the Campbell Collaboration; (5) Cochrane Style Reviews, Syntheses and Meta-Analyses; (6) Challenges in the Process; (7) Some Questions about Evidence-Based Practice in Education; (8) What Is Evidence?; (9) The Relationship between Research, Policy and Practice; (10) Evidence-Based Practice, Action Research and the Professional Development of Teachers; (11) Educational Research, Philosophical Orthodoxy, and Unfulfilled Promises; (12) Using Action Research to Generate Knowledge about Educational Practice; (13) Practice-Based Evidence; and (14) Reflections from Medical Practice. Following a conclusion, an index is also provided.


Boscardin, M. L. (2005). The administrative role in transforming secondary schools to support inclusive evidence-based practices. American Secondary Education, 33(3), 21-32.

The role of secondary administrators, including but not limited to principals, guidance directors, curriculum supervisors, department chairs, and special education directors, is important to the success of students with disabilities. Administrators equipped with the knowledge and skills to support the implementation of evidence-based practices of teachers in inclusive and accessible instructional environments are poised to be effective advocates of improved educational outcomes of all students. In this paper, we examine two ways in which administrators facilitate the development, adoption, use, and evaluation of evidence-based educational interventions within secondary schools. One considers refocusing the administrator role from one of manager to one of effective instructional leader. The other focuses on key leadership strategies for improving the instructional practices of teachers and the educational outcomes of students with disabilities.

Duchnowski et al.

Duchnowski, A. J., Kutash, K., Sheffield, S., & Vaughn, B. (2006). Increasing the use of evidence-based strategies by special education teachers: A collaborative approach. Teaching & Teacher Education, 22(7), 838-847.

This article describes a process developed to increase the use of evidence-based instructional strategies by teachers of students in special education programs in a middle school and high school. The project developed a working partnership between university researchers and parents, teachers and administrators of students in special education programs. The partnership produced manuals for the teachers that outlined effective strategies for teaching reading, encouraging family involvement, providing academic feedback, and engaging in positive behavior support in the classroom. The results of assessing implementation fidelity, implications of the study, and future research issues are presented.


Fleischman, S. (2006). Moving to evidence-based professional practice. Educational Leadership, 63(6), 87-90.

Abstract by author:
Schools have recently begun to place increased emphasis on the use of rigorous research evidence in guiding instructional decisions. Turning education into an evidence-based field is easier to advocate than to achieve, particularly in an environment of competing claims about what works. In this article, the author discusses the factors which hamper research use by educators: (1) too few rigorous and relevant studies; (2) difficulty in locating and applying existing research; and (3) distrust of research. Moreover, the author presents some resources which can help educators bridge the gap between research and practice: (1) explore ways to strengthen the connection between research and practice; (2) decipher and apply research; (3) learn more about using scientific approaches to improve learning; and (4) consult credible, timely, and usable evidence reviews. Like all advances in education, moving to evidence-based professional practice requires the leadership and hard work of teachers, principals, central office administrators, superintendents, parents, and community members. But in the end, evidence-based professional practice will only become a reality when educators embrace the scientific spirit and seek out and apply programs and practices that truly demonstrate their effectiveness.


Kutash, K., & Duchnowski, A. J. (2006). Creating environments that work for all youth: Increasing the use of evidence-based strategies by special education teachers. [Research to Practice Brief. Volume 5, Issue 1.] Minneapolis, MN: National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET), University of Minnesota.

Abstract by authors:
With a goal of increasing the use of evidence-based practices in special education programs and improve student outcomes, a research demonstration project was developed through a unique partnership of special educators, parents, administrators, and investigators. This brief reports on the method, implementation, and initial findings from this project. It describes the process used to achieve the collaborative partnership, the identification of evidence-based strategies, the development of associated manuals to support implementation by special educations teachers, and the results of subsequent evaluation. A brief list of resources is also included.


National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. (2007). Child and adolescent development research and teacher education: Evidence-based pedagogy, policy, and practice. [Summary of Roundtable Meetings (December 1-2, 2005 and March 20-21, 2006)]. Washington, DC: Author.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) collaborated to produce a summary of two roundtable discussions on the critical relevance of child and adolescent development research to teacher preparation practices. The participants in the roundtable discussions were not formal advisors charged with making policy recommendations but rather a group of experts in teacher training and child and adolescent development research. Their discussions provided important guidance to the NICHD/NCATE collaborative effort. This summary report discusses major issues faced by teachers and schools and the resources needed to address them--such as translating child and adolescent development literature into a user-friendly format for delivery in courses and links to the accreditation process. The underlying premise guiding the roundtable discussions: If educators are to empower all individuals to learn, they must know and be able to apply information from human development and cognitive science within their own professional practice. The following are appended: (1) The Integration of Child/Adolescent Development in Teacher Preparation; and (2) Child and Adolescent Development Research and Teacher Education: Evidence-based Pedagogy, Policy, and Practice--Research Questionnaire.


National Board for Education Sciences. 2007 Annual Report. Washington, DC: Institute for Education Sciences.

Abstract by ERIC
The annual report reviews research priorities, major Institute of Education Sciences (IES) updates, and recent resolutions. National Board for Education Sciences (NBES) members conclude that the Institute has made important initial progress in transforming education into an evidence-based field in which decision-makers routinely seek out the best available research and data before adopting programs or practices that will affect significant numbers of students. Appropriate support from Congress and the American public for evidence-based education can help ensure improvements in academic achievement for all students.

June 3, 2009


Yates, Gregory C. R. (2008). Roadblocks to scientific thinking in educational decision making. Australasian Journal of Special Education, 32(1), 125-137.

Principles of scientific data accumulation and evidence-based practices are vehicles of professional enhancement. In this article, the author argues that a scientific knowledge base exists descriptive of the relationship between teachers' activities and student learning. This database appears barely recognised however, for reasons including (a) the scientific tradition may not be seen as an appropriate basis for humanistic decision making; (b) personal observations can override impersonal statistics; (c) alternative frames, such as postmodernism, may contribute towards an anti-science stance; (d) qualitative research may be viewed as representing a sampled universe; (e) educational theorising thrives upon dichotomisations which cannot be mapped against objectively-secured data; and (f) individuals are relatively unable to undertake the mental processes demanded of theory change. The author also discusses the distinction between scientific reasoning and everyday cognition, as illustrated by research findings into cognitive biases and heuristics.

Tankersley, Cook, & Cook

Tankersley, M., Cook, B. G., & Cook, L. (2008). A preliminary examination to identify the presence of quality indicators in single-subject research. Education and Treatment of Children, 31(4), 523-548.

Abstract by authors:
Scholars in the field of special education put forth a series of papers that proposed quality indicators for specific research designs that must be present for a study to be considered of high quality, as well as standards for evaluating a body of research to determine whether a practice is evidence-based. The purpose of this article was to pilot test the quality indicators proposed for single-subject research studies in order to identify points that may need clarification or revision. To do this, we examined the extent to which the proposed quality indicators were present in two single-subject studies, both examining the effects of teacher praise on specific behaviors of school-age children. Our application of the quality indicators indicated that neither study met the minimal acceptable criteria for single-subject research. We discuss the use of the quality indicators in relation to their clarity and applicability and suggest points for deliberation as the field moves forward in establishing evidence-based practices.

Honig & Coburn

Honig, M. I., & Coburn, C. (2008). Evidence-based decision making in school district central offices: Toward a policy and research agenda. Educational Policy, 22(4), 578-608.

District central office administrators increasingly face policy demands to use "evidence" in their decision making. These demands up the ante on education policy researchers and policy makers to better understand what evidence use in district central offices entails and the conditions that may support it. To that end, the authors conducted a comprehensive review of research literature on evidence use in district central offices, finding that the process of evidence use is complex, spanning multiple subactivities and requiring administrators to make sense of evidence and its implications for central office operations. These activities have significant political dimensions and involve the use of "local knowledge" as a key evidence source. Evidence use is shaped by features of the evidence itself and various organizational and institutional factors. Policy shapes evidence use, but other factors mediate its impact. The authors conclude with implications for future policy and research on central office evidence-based decision making.

Wentworth et al.

Wentworth, N., Erickson, L. B., Lawrence, B., Popham, J. A., & Korth, B. (2009). A paradigm shift toward evidence-based clinical practice: Developing a performance assessment. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 35(1), 16-20.

The Clinical Practice Assessment System (CPAS), developed in response to teacher preparation program accreditation requirements, represents a paradigm shift of one university toward data-based decision-making in teacher education programs. The new assessment system is a scale aligned with INTASC Standards, which allows for observation and evaluation of teacher candidate performance over time to show growth from novice to high level proficiency. This article describes the creation of the CPAS and examines results from its implementation in early childhood, elementary, and secondary programs in both early and capstone clinical experiences. Three years of implementation experiences have informed decisions on supervisory practices, program offerings and requirements, alignment of course outcomes, and understanding of strengths and weaknesses of individual licensure programs.

Tankersley et al.

Tankersley, M., Harjusola-Webb, S., & Landrum, T. J. (2008). Using single-subject research to establish the evidence base of special education. Intervention in School and Clinic, 44(2), 83-90.

Research in the field of special education often incorporates single-subject designs to investigate the effectiveness of educational practices for students with disabilities. As such, it is important that educators and educational professionals understand the characteristics of single-subject research methodologies and how those characteristics allow conclusions to be drawn about effectiveness of practices. Because conclusions about whether an intervention causes changes in student outcomes can be derived from single-subject research, it has much to offer to discussion of evidence-based practice and the ultimate identification of evidence-based practices for students with disabilities.
This article primarily describes the research approach, noting examples briefly
Describes single-subject research design:
Researcher gathers three or more observations or assessment data points of student performing in the baseline condition -- the number depends on the establishment of a reliable current pre-intervention performance. Researcher then administers the intervention, and gathers multiple instances of observed or test data of the student's performance.
Analysis focuses on determining whether there is a functional relationship between the dependent variable (the new performance data) and the independent variable (the instructional practice).
The single-subject research design is particularly aligned with special education's focus on individualized instruction. Makes point, in fact, that this type of data-gathering is consistent with everyday practices of special educators. Further, if a teacher gathers data for multiple students that can be compared pre- and post-intervention, generalizability can be achieved as well.
Important features of single-subject design:
Trustworthy measurement tools
Repeated data measurement of target behavior -- that is, what the student is to learn
Systematic repetition of the introduction and removal of the intervention, and variation in the frequency or intensity of the administration of the intervention
Notes that when there is a difference in performance, one can claim that it is an evidence-based practice.

June 2, 2009


Biesta, G. (2007). Why "What Works" won't work: Evidence-based practice and the democratic deficit in educational research. Educational Theory, 57(1), 1-22

In this essay, Gert Biesta provides a critical analysis of the idea of evidence-based practice and the ways in which it has been promoted and implemented in the field of education, focusing on the tension between scientific and democratic control over educational practice and research. Biesta examines three key assumptions of evidence-based education: first, the extent to which educational practice can be compared to the practice of medicine, the field in which evidence-based practice was first developed; second, the role of knowledge in professional actions, with special attention to what kind of epistemology is appropriate for professional practices that wish to be informed by the outcomes of research; and third, the expectations about the practical role of research implicit in the idea of evidence-based education. Biesta concludes that evidence-based practice provides a framework for understanding the role of research in educational practice that not only restricts the scope of decision making to questions about effectivity and effectiveness, but that also restricts the opportunities for participation in educational decision making. He argues that we must expand our views about the interrelations among research, policy, and practice to keep in view education as a thoroughly moral and political practice that requires continuous democratic contestation and deliberation.

L. Cook et al.

Cook, L., Cook, B. G., Landrum, T. J., Tankersley, M. (2008). Examining the role of group experimental research in establishing evidenced-based practices. Intervention in School and Clinic, 44(2), 76-82.

Using evidence-based practices, or those instructional techniques shown by research to improve student outcomes meaningfully, increases the performance of students with disabilities and should therefore be a priority for special educators. But how does a practice come to be considered evidence based? The unique characteristics of group experimental research (i.e., the use of a meaningful comparison group and the active manipulation of an intervention) allow research consumers to conclude whether an intervention causes desired changes in student outcomes. As such, group experimental research is one type of research that is well suited to determine evidence-based practices. Examples of group experimental research are provided from the contemporary special education literature.

Cook et al.

Cook, B. G., Tankersley, M., & Harjusola-Webb, S. (2008). Evidence-based special education and professional wisdom: Putting it all together. Intervention in School and Clinic, 44(2), 105-111.

Abstract by authors:
There has been an increasing focus on evidence-based practices in special education with efforts underway to authoritatively identify those practices that are evidence based. However, the identification of evidence-based practices is only the beginning of the process of implementing evidence-based special education. The professional wisdom of special educators will be necessary for evidence-based practices to be implemented effectively and result in improved outcomes for students with disabilities. Specifically, special educators will have to apply their professional wisdom in (a) selecting and adapting evidence-based practices to their students' learning needs and goals, their own teaching strengths, and the educational environments in which the practice will be implemented; (b) assessing the effects of evidence-based practices; and (c) integrating effective teaching techniques in the delivery of evidence-based practices.

June 1, 2009

Odom et al.

Odom, S. L., Brantlinger, E., Gersten, R., Horner, R. H., Thompson, B., Harris, K. R. (2005). Research in special education: Scientific methods and evidence-based practices. Exceptional Children, 71(2), 137-148.

Abstract by author:
This article sets the context for the development of research quality indicators and guidelines for evidence of effective practices provided by different methodologies. The current conceptualization of scientific research in education and the complexity of conducting research in special education settings underlie the development of quality indicators. Programs of research in special education may be viewed as occurring in stages: moving from initial descriptive research, to experimental causal research, to finally research that examines the processes that might affect wide-scale adoption and use of a practice. At each stage, different research questions are relevant, and different research methodologies to address the research questions are needed.
This special issue represents the Council for Exceptional Children's effort to establish guidelines for effective practices for teaching students with disabilities
advocates for multiple research methodologies
Indicates that special education research is complex, due to following factors:
1. variety of student participants, spanning 12 federal disability categories
2. breadth of special education contexts -- both chronologically from early childhood to young adulthood, as well as teaching approaches including separate settings as well as inclusive general education settings
The implications of this complexity include that one must specify the effectiveness of the instructional practice for which group of students in which context.
Provides a brief history of special education research, noting that experimental and quasi-experimental were routine, and that a more recent additional approach is single-subject designs.

Notes that a recent charge in the federal Department of Education has been to establish scientific research body in educational interventions, with the creation of the IES
-- Referenced: Whitehurst, G. J. (2003). The Institute of Education
Sciences: New wine, new bottles. Paper presented at the
annual conference of the American Educational Research
Association, Los Angeles. Retrieved September
20, 2004, from http//www.ed.gov/rschstar/research/
-- emphasises use of randomized clinical trials (RCT) with random assignment of participants to intervention or control groups

Points out that the research methodology depends on the question being asked

offer their "Quality Indicators of Research Methodology" (p. 141)
-- degree of quality is equated with degree to which researchers and readers have confidence in the findings, based in part on whether alternative explanations for the findings and researchers' conclusions have been refuted

Other models of quality research
-- developed by APA Division 16
-- developed by Society for the Study of School Psychology

Evidence Based Practice (p. 142)

"Following this [Cochrane] model, the Campbell Collaboration
(http://www.campbellcollaboration.org/FraAbout.html) was established in the United
States in 1999 to assist individuals in education and the social sciences to make informed decisions about what works based on high-quality research
and reviews" (p. 143).

[stopped taking notes on p. 144]


Justice, L. M. (2006). Evidence-based practice, response to intervention, and the prevention of reading difficulties. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 37(4), 284-297.

Abstract: by author:
Purpose: This article provides an evidence-based perspective on what school communities can do to lower the prevalence of reading difficulties among their pupils through preventive interventions. It also delineates the roles that speech-language pathologists (SLPs) might play in these interventions. Method: This article is organized to first provide a broad overview of current directions in research, practice, and policy in educational interventions, with an emphasis on how the three are increasingly integrated to respond to evidence showing that American school children are underperforming in reading. Next, the concept of response to intervention (RTI) is described. RTI is an educational policy and practice that is grounded in the accumulated literature that focuses on how schools might better organize themselves to deliver multitiered reading interventions to reduce children's risk for reading disability. Last, this article provides three organizational principles that school-based professionals, including SLPs, might follow to deliver RTI interventions. Implications: This article provides an important and timely description of key concepts in the prevention of reading difficulties through proactive multitiered interventions. SLPs can draw on the suggestions presented here to inform their local efforts in implementing preventive literacy programs that are consistent with an RTI paradigm.

Horner et al.

Horner, R. H., Carr, E. G., Halle, J., McGee, G., Odom, S., & Wolery, M. (2005). The use of single-subject research to identify evidence-based practice in special education. Exceptional Children, 71(2), 165-179.

Abstract: by authors
Single-subject research plays an important role in the development of evidence-based practice in special education. The defining features of single-subject research are presented, the contributions of single-subject research for special education are reviewed, and a specific proposal is offered for using single-subject research to document evidence-based practice. This article allows readers to determine if a specific study is a credible example of single-subject research and if a specific practice or procedure has been validated as "evidence-based" via single-subject research.


Gresham, F. M. (2004). Current status and future directions of school-based behavioral interventions. School Psychology Review, 33(3), 326-343.

Abstract by author:
This article describes current status and future directions for school-based behavioral interventions. The article is centered on four themes that are considered critical for future research and practice in school-based behavioral intervention work. First, the article argues for conceptualizing interventions based on intensity level and purpose (universal, selected, and target/intensive interventions). Second, response to intervention approach should be used as the basis for changing, modifying, or intensifying interventions. Third, evidence-based practices should be used for selecting and evaluating interventions. Fourth, social validation of behavioral interventions should be used to establish the clinical or applied significance of target behavior selection and to document the social importance of effects. Contributions of functional behavioral assessment in designing and implementing behavioral interventions are examined. Future directions for research and practice in behavioral interventions in schools are considered.

Gersten et al.

Gersten, R., Fuchs, L. S., Compton, D., Coyne, M., Greenwood, C., & Innocenti, M. S. (2005). Quality indicators for group experimental and quasi-experimental research in special education. Exceptional Children, 71(2), 149-164.

Abstract by authors:
This article presents quality indicators for experimental and quasi-experimental studies for special education. These indicators are intended not only to evaluate the merits of a completed research report or article but also to serve as an organizer of critical issues for consideration in research. We believe these indicators can be used widely, from assisting in the development of research plans to evaluating proposals. In this article, the framework and rationale is explained by providing brief descriptions of each indicator. Finally, we suggest a standard for determining whether a practice may be considered evidence-based. It is our intent that this standard for evidenced-based practice and the indicators be reviewed, revised as needed, and adopted by the field of special education.
Reference NRC report that indicates that experimental designs including randomization are not pursued as often as would be appropriate.
Distinguish this article to propose the benefit of multiple approaches in demonstrating quality instructional practices in special education
Presents a framework for ensuring quality, with the following essential factors:
the description of participants
intervention implementation factors and the description of comparison conditions outcome measures
data analysis techniques
They also list desirable factors, which are itemized in full sentences and difficult to summarize -- see Table 2, page 152

Browder & Cooper-Duffy

Browder, D. M., & Cooper-Duffy, K. (2003). Evidence-based practices for students with severe disabilities and the requirements for accountability in "No Child Left Behind". The Journal of Special Education, 37(3), 157-163.

Abstract by authors:
To define what is special about the education of students with severe disabilities, this article provides a snapshot of research-based practices that are relevant to the "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) focus on accountability. The NCLB requirement to assess all students in reading, math, and science is contrasted to the functional approach typical of skill acquisition research for this population. The concept of adequate yearly progress is addressed by reviewing the types of instructional strategies that would most likely yield progress. Information is also provided on the extent to which teachers use research based strategies. We conclude that prior research provides guidance for how to select and teach skills even though new applications for academics are needed.
In closing, the authors note that inclusion of students with significant cognitive disabilities in the general education environment may be more of a "values-based, rather than an evidence-based, policy" (p. 161).
Early in the article, the authors point out that teachers working with students with significant cognitive disabilities are accustomed to taking an individualized approach to teaching. They note that engaging students with significant cognitive disabilities in cooperative learning, including with their non-disabled peers, can assist with learning. Additionally, as generalization of new skills can be a learning goal, the general education environment can serve as an alternate setting in which to apply the skill practice.
They note also that both general educators and special educators have indicated in response to surveys that they do not often use evidence-based practices in the classroom.

Cook et al.

Cook, B. G., Tankersley, M., Landrum, T. J. (2009). Determining evidence-based practices in special education. Exceptional Children, 75(3), 365-383.

Abstract by authors:
Determining evidence-based practices is a complicated enterprise that requires analyzing the methodological quality and magnitude of the available research supporting specific practices. This article reviews criteria and procedures for identifying what works in the fields of clinical psychology, school psychology, and general education; and it compares these systems with proposed guidelines for determining evidence-based practices in special education. The authors then summarize and analyze the approaches and findings of the 5 reviews presented in this issue. In these reviews, prominent special education scholars applied the proposed quality indicators for high-quality research and standards for evidence-based practice to bodies of empirical literature. The article concludes by synthesizing these scholars' preliminary recommendations for refining the proposed quality indicators and standards for evidence-based practices in special education, as well as the process for applying them.

Robinson et al.

Robinson, D. H., Levin, J. R., Thomas, G. D., Pituch, K. A., & Vaughn, S. (2007). The incidence of "causal" statements in teaching-and-learning research journals. American Educational Research Journal, 44(2), 400-413.

Abstract by authors:
The authors examined the methodologies of articles in teaching-and-learning research journals, published in 1994 and in 2004, and classified them as either intervention (based on researcher-manipulated variables) or nonintervention. Consistent with the findings of Hsieh et al., intervention research articles declined from 45% in 1994 to 33% in 2004. For nonintervention articles, the authors recorded the incidence of "causal" statements (e.g., if teachers/schools/parents did X, then student/child outcome Y would likely result). Nonintervention research articles containing causal statements increased from 34% in 1994 to 43% in 2004. It appears that at the same time intervention studies are becoming less prevalent in the teaching-and-learning research literature, researchers are more inclined to include causal statements in nonintervention studies.


Raudenbush, S. W. (2008). Advancing educational policy by advancing research on instruction. American Educational Research Journal, 45(1), 206-230.

Understanding the impact of "instructional regimes" on student learning is central to advancing educational policy. Research on instructional regimes has parallels with clinical trials in medicine yet poses unique challenges because of the social nature of instruction: A child’s potential outcome under a given regime depends on peers and teachers, requiring the need for multilevel methods of causal inference. The author considers studies of the impact of intended versus experienced instructional regimes. Both are important; however, intended regimes are well measured and accessible to randomized trials, whereas experienced instruction is measured with error and not amenable to randomization. Multiyear sequences of experienced instruction are of central interest but pose special methodological challenges. A 2-year study of intensive mathematics instruction illustrates these ideas.