The field of special education and behavior analysis lost a great man last week. Stan Deno, Ph.D. served on faculty in the College of Education and Human Development at The University of Minnesota (commonly referred to as The U) from 1970 (or so) until he retired in 2009. During that time, Stan developed a framework for monitoring student progress towards their academic goals. His work in Curriculum Based Measurement (CBM) is the foundation for DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills; Good & Kiminski, 2002) which has been used in thousands of schools across the country.
Stan also trained many students including undergraduate, masters level, and doctoral level. Two of his students, Doug and Lynn Fuchs, have led the way in developing Response to Intervention (RTI) an evidence-based approach to identifying students with learning disabilities and behavior disorders.
If you don’t know Stan or haven’t read his work, you should make time to do so. Without a doubt, his work has influenced the way we monitor progress in schools and the way we address instruction for students with learning and behavioral needs.
I have many fond memories of Stan. I feel so lucky to have studied with him during my time at The U. He worked diligently to help me slow down when I spoke (I talk fast and southern and it was difficult for him to understand me). He also modeled for me the act of thinking carefully before speaking. If you know me, you know I still am working on this skill!
Stan trusted me to serve as his Teaching Assistant (TA) in the Intro to ABA class. He taught me how to teach adult learners and how to give meaningful feedback on their written work. During this time, he also taught me the importance of technology in the classroom to increase graduate student participation and responding. I am a much better teacher now because of Stan.
I took several classes from Stan. The most memorable included the course on Single Subject Design. In this course, Stan introduced me to the work of Alan Kazdin and he taught me to conduct experimentally sou
nd research studies as well as how to read research and interpret and apply it in my own work. His influence enabled me to write successful grants, publish my own science, and go on to teach my own students. Stan also served on my dissertation committee where he modeled for me how to help students improve their research ideas, study procedures, and how to interpret results accurately. I was so fortunate to learn so much from him.
In addition to our love of research, behavior analysis, and helping students learn, Stan and I both shared the diagnosis of cancer. I received my diagnosis in 2002 some time after he received his diagnosis and treatment. I stopped by the U to visit Stan while I was in town later that same year. We shared how hard living as a survivor can be and we shared how crushing the diagnosis can be. It was then that Stan shared with me the theory of the Sword of Damocles. It took some time for me to truly understand this concept as a new survivor. But oh do I understand it now, 14 years later.
My heart sank to my stomach last week when I learned of Stan’s passing. But, I have joy in knowing how much he taught me and how much he has taught the special education world. Stan will be missed.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers contributions be made in memory of Stanley Deno to: “Stan Deno CBM Research” fund #20003 at the University of Minnesota Foundation.
Online gifts can be made at: www.give.umn.edu/giveto/standeno
Or mail this giving form to:
University of Minnesota Foundation
P.O. Box 860266
Minneapolis, MN 55486-0266
Good, R.H., & Kkaminski, R.A. (2002). Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (6th ed.). Eugene, OR: Institute for the Development of Educational Achievement. Available: http://dibels.uoregon.edu.