Just what constitutes ‘evidence-based practice’ is a widely discussed topic of conversation, particularly among educators who are determining which interventions, instructional strategies, and curricula to use with children and youth with disabilities. With federal laws mandating their use, educators need guidance when making these determinations.
That’s where CEC’s evidence-based practice resources come in.
For the last few years, CEC has been working with a group of special education researchers and practitioners to highlight and explain ‘evidence-based practice’ through two special editions of Exceptional Children, CEC’s premiere research journal, and through other initiatives.
In the meantime, CEC has urged the U.S. Department of Education to revise its definition of ‘evidence-based’ as proposed in the IDEA State Personnel Development Grant program. The proposed definition reads: “Evidence-based refers to practices for which there is strong evidence or moderate evidence of effectiveness.”
CEC – with the integral input of its members, particularly the Division for Research – has called this definition overly broad and vague. Among CEC’s many concerns is that the proposed definition would do little to improve instructional practice because the language referring to “moderate evidence of effectiveness” undermines the purpose of evidence-based practices, which is intended to set a high bar for practices supported by a trustworthy body of research.
While CEC’s work to define ‘evidence-based practice’ is still underway, and a more complete definition of evidence-based may emerge, the proposed definition must be strengthened to ensure the spirit of evidences is upheld in its implementation. CEC proposed to change the definition to:
“Evidence based refers to practices that are supported by a sufficient number of high quality studies that use research designs from which causality can be inferred and that demonstrate meaningful effects on student outcomes.”
CEC’s proposed definition originates from the work of numerous special education researchers, most directly from CEC’s Division for Research whitepaper, Thinking and Communicating Clearly About Evidence-Based Practices in Special Education by Bryan G. Cook and Sara Cothren Cook.
While the debate over defining ‘evidence-based’ promises to continue for some time, take a look at these helpful resources from CEC.
Read CEC’s Full Response to the State Personnel Development Grant Proposed Priorities and Definitions by clicking here.
Click here to read CEC’s Special Education Research Funding Issue Brief.