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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 referreStan Denod 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

 

References

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.

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Hi all,

I am pleased to announce that I will be conducting a free webinar  for Cigna on March 10th at 1:00pm. We will be talking about IEPs and parental rights during the process.

Please join us!

For more information, visit the Cigna website.

For more information on this topic try these previous posts:

  1. Whey they say No.
  2. Requesting an IEE for an FBA.
  3. Clients First.Always.

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We recognize that many of our readers have already started school. However, up here in the East Coast, school starts today for some children, later this week for others, and next week for the remaining students. This has resulted in a great deal of anxiety among parents, students, and teachers. While no specific question came in on this topic, our emails have been flooded with back to school woes from:

  • my child is starting a new school after 7 years with the same teacher
  • my child is starting a new private school
  • my child is leaving special education and moving to general education
  • my child was separated from her two best friends
  • my child is with a teacher who is not trained in special education

The list goes on and on!

We have a few tips for you to get through this week.

  1. Take one step at a time.

    Just like everything else we do for our students, we must approach the first day of school in baby steps. We cannot do it all on the first day so prioritize and worry about the most important things first.

  2. Planning is effective.

    In order to know what is most important, make a plan. For one of our clients, we planned to meet with and train school staff so they would know what to expect from him and from us. For another, we planned to make visits to the new school to ensure a smooth transition. For yet another, we scheduled play dates over the summer with new students in the class to assist with friendship development. Planning will help everyone feel more prepared and less stressed.

  3. Visual supports help everyone.

    We have written about visual supports before: here, here, and here.

  4. Reinforce often.

    Yes, we know that we suggest the use of reinforcement but everyone benefits. Reinforce your child for engaging in appropriate behaviors. Reinforce the teachers for their hard work. And don’t forget to reinforce yourself! Can you say wine, pedicures, manicures, massages? Oh and let’s not forget the Dads! football games, baseball games, golf, beer!

  5. Don’t beat yourself up.

    Finally, we all make mistakes. None of us are perfect. The new school, the new teacher, the new behavior therapist….none of them will be perfect. So don’t beat yourself up if something goes wrong or if something does not go as planned. Usually in these situations, you will have another opportunity to get it right.
    Readers, weigh in! Do you have advice for the “back to school blues”?

 

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Hi! and welcome to What Works Wednesdays where we share a success story from our clinical files. Today, we are going to take a pause from our personal stories and share a resource with our readers. The resource is called the What Works Clearinghouse from the Institute of Educational Sciences (IES). the website for the resource is http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/.

 

Educators (special education and general education alike) are required to use evidence-based strategies in their teaching as required under the No Child Left Behind Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act. Educators often find it difficult to determine what strategies have evidence.

As a result, the Institute for Educational Sciences (which also happens to hand out research money to educational researchers) developed the clearing house as a resource. The criteria used to determine if a methodology may be listed in the Clearinghouse is very stringent. However,  if you are ever in doubt about teaching methodologies and “what works”, their website is a good place to start.

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Here at Applied Behavioral Strategies, our mission is to improve the quality of life through effective intervention. One way we hope to do that is by reviewing research articles for our readers. Today’s article is titled, “Meta-analysis of Grade Retention Research:Implications for Practice in the 21st Century”. Shane Jimerson authored the article and School Psychology Review published it in 2001 (Volume 30, No. 3 pages 420-437). You may read the entire article yourself here.

Purpose of the Study

Researchers have been studying grade retention for many years. However, recently, the quality of studies has improved (e.g., more rigorous experimental designs, comparison groups). So, the purpose of the study was to review all the studies on grade retention between 1990 and 1999. The author completed a meta-analysis of the studies to better inform educators and parents about the effects of grade retention.

Research Questions

The author asked a number of research questions including:

(a) In what grade were the students retained and at what age/grade were the outcomes examined?

(b) What were the academic achievement outcomes of retained children versus promoted children?

(c) What were the social-emotional and behavioral outcomes of retained students versus promoted children?

Methodology (How the Study was Completed)

The author searched for research studies on the effects and outcomes of grade retention. Over 400 studies were found. The author identified studies that met the following inclusionary criteria:

(a) research must have been presented in a professional publication;

(b) study results must have addressed the efficacy of grade retention (i.e., achievement, social-emotional, or other);

(c) study must have included a comparison group of promoted students;

(d) research must have been published between 1990 and 1999

Twenty studies met the criteria and were analyzed for the meta-analysis.

The author and two research assistants coded the studies. Meta analyses were completed using the effect sizes reported by study authors. For our readers with little experience and training in research, this means that the author and research assistants read the previously published studies and entered information into a spreadsheet. They also took the results from the previous studies and combined them with all the other study results to get an average outcome across studies.

Results

Groups Studied

The retained students and the promoted students were matched on several variables including academic achievement, IQ, gender, SES, and social-emotional adjustment). Essentially, all the studies made sure that both groups were equal except for one variable: retention or promotion.

Grade of Retention and Grade of Outcome

The majority of the studies (N=14 out of 20) included students that were retained in kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade. The remaining six studies included students retained K through 8th grade. Many studies (14 out of 20) reported outcomes over a series of years. Only 6 studies reported outcomes in just one year.

Academic Outcomes

All of the data from the 20 studies resulted in 175 different academic outcomes for students. Of those 175 outcomes, only 9 favored retained students while 82 outcomes favored promoted students. 84 outcomes showed no difference between retained and promoted students.

More specifically, the promoted group of students performed higher than retained students in areas of language arts, reading, math, composite scores, and grade point average.

Social-Emotional Adjustment

All of the data from the 16 studies that examined social-emotional adjustment resulted in 148 outcomes. Of those, 8 favored the retained students and 13 favored the promoted students. 127 of those showed no differences between groups.

Author Recommendations

The authors of the 20 studies favored either retention or promotion and these results were analyzed. Authors from 4 studies recommended grade retention while authors from 16 studies recommended against grade retention.

Authors from the 4 studies recommending retention emphasized that remedial strategies in addition to grade retention is necessary. Grade retention alone is not enough.

Conclusions

The author of the meta analysis concludes with a few recommendations for educators and school psychologists.

  1. First, he stressed the importance of utilizing remedial strategies to support children who are struggling.
  2. Second, he encouraged educators and educational researchers to study the long-term effects of grade retention, particularly in light of other research linking grade retention to higher rates of high school drop out.
  3. Third, he encouraged school psychologists to explore educational alternatives and to disseminate research to parents and teachers to that teams make informed decisions regarding grade retention.
  4. Finally, he recommended that educators consider using interventions that have been proven effective through special education research. These include: mnemonic strategies, enhancing reading comprehension, behavior modification, direct instruction, cognitive behavior modification, formative evaluation, and early intervention.

What are things that you considered when deciding to retain or promote your child? Teachers, behavior analysts, what variables did you consider? What interventions did you try first?

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Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I respond to email questions from readers who have questions about their child’s behavior.Today’s question comes from Karen who asks,

“My son with autism is in 2nd grade and struggling with academics along with his social challenges. I am wondering if we should hold him back and keep him in 2nd grade next year. What are the things we should consider to help us with this decision?”

All parents ask this question from time to time–regardless of whether their child has a disability. Some parents hold children back so they will be older when they graduate. Others hold their children back so they will have a greater likelihood of excelling in sports. So, the good news is that you are not alone in thinking about this.

I think there are several issues to consider. Personally, I am opposed to holding a child back once they start school. Thus, if you intentionally start them a year later than their similar aged peers, I don’t believe the consequences are as severe as when you hold a child back once they have started school.

Peer Relationships are Formed

Children begin forming their peer groups on the first day of school. Yes, children begin forming relationships as early as preschool. Friendships formed at that age, can potentially last a lifetime. Once your child develops relationships, it will be detrimental to him/her to lose those relationships. Sometimes the mere separation from teacher to teacher can be enough to interfere with friendships. However, if the children remain in the same grade with different teachers, they will continue to share lunch time, recess, and some specials.

Holding your child back to repeat a grade separates him/her from friends. They must learn to fit in with social groups that have already been formed. They must eat lunch and play outside with a whole new crop of friends. If your child has issues socially, this could be an even more difficult time for him/her.

Child’s Self-Esteem

A child’s self-esteem may take a blow when they are asked to repeat a grade. Children know when their friends move on. Children know when they have to say “I’m in first grade again”. Even if you think your child is unaware, chances are he/she is fully aware, she just may lack the verbal skills to tell you.

Fitting In Size Wise

Depending on the month of your child’s birthday, when you first enrolled him/her in school, and general family genetics, your child’s height and weight (and subsequent puberty) may be an issue if you choose to hold them back. For example, if your child holds an August birthday and you choose to start 1st grade at age 7 rather than age 6 but then a couple of years later, your child repeats a grade, your child is now almost 2 years older than her classmates. Your child could be hitting puberty much sooner than her peers and she could be the victim of negative social attention for it. Moreover, the last thing you want is for your daughter to be the tallest girl in the grade (unless of course Basketball is in her future).

Research Shows Retention is Ineffective

A number of studies have been conducted on the long-term effects of grade retention, including social effects as well as academic effects. The research shows that grade retention does not result in the intended outcomes. In fact, some negative long-term effects include a greater risk of high school drop out as well as poor academic achievement.

Children Know and Remember

Finally, your child’s peers will know and remember that your child was held back. They will carry it with them over the years, “Oh yes, that’s Suzie, she was in 2nd grade with me and she had to repeat 2nd grade”. Children have so many other issues to over come, it seems odd that we would purposefully add another source of stress for them.

Resources

Here are some other resources you may find helpful:

Center for Development and Learning

National Association for School Psychologists (NASP)

A second post by NASP

Weigh In

I would love to hear from our readers on this one. Have you held your child back? How did it go or how is it going? Did your friends? Teachers and behavior analysts, what have your experiences been?

If you have a behavior question for Missy, email askmissy at applied behavioral strategies dot com.

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In the social media world, you can make many friends. Our list of Tweeps, Facebook friends, and LinkedIn folks is growing every day. Recently, we met a blogger who is a great resource for families in the special education world. Her website is The Special Education Advisor and her name is Dennise Goldberg. You can follow her on Twitter @SpecialEdAdvice. (If all of the social media is confusing to you, we wrote about how Twitter can help you.You can read it here.)

Dennise asked us to write something for her website and, well, since it is IEP season, we thought a great piece on IEP minutes would be helpful for readers.

So, instead of reading our post on our site, hop on over to hers to read it there. Look around her website and check out the resources she has available.

Thanks for having us Dennise!

Also, we linked our blog from Monday up with Bruna over at Bees with Honey. Hop on over there and see what all of her friends have to say. It is another way to meet other bloggers and blog readers.

Bees With Honey

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