Evidence-Based Practice: Promoting Evidence-Based Interventions in School Psychology

By Kratochwill, Thomas R. | School Psychology Review, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

Evidence-Based Practice: Promoting Evidence-Based Interventions in School Psychology


Kratochwill, Thomas R., School Psychology Review


Abstract. We present an overview of issues related to evidence-based practice and the role that the school psychology profession can play in developing and disseminating evidence-based interventions (EBIs). Historical problems relating to and the recurring debate about the integration of research into practice are presented as a context for the current challenges faced by those engaged in the EBI movement in psychology and education. Potential solutions to the problems posed by the adoption of EBIs in practice are presented within the context of the directions to be taken by the Task Force on Evidence-Based Interventions in School Psychology (Task Force). Five assumptions are presented that can guide the Task Force in addressing the integration of EBIs in practice. These assumptions are followed the Task Force for the promotion of EBIs in practice. The action plans are conceptualized as a shared responsibility of school psychology researchers, trainers, and practitioners. Future directions and implications for policy among groups with a common agenda for promoting EBIs are also presented.

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For the past few years, we have worked on the development of various agendas associated with the Task Force on Evidence-Based Interventions in School Psychology (hereafter referred to as the Task Force). The Task Force was formed to identify, review, and code studies of psychological and educational interventions for behavioral, emotional, and academic problems and disorders for school-aged children and their families (see Gutkin, 2002; Kratochwill & Stoiber, 2002). A primary mission of the Task Force has been to improve the quality of research training, extend knowledge of evaluation criteria for evidence-based interventions (EBIs), and report this information to the profession of school psychology. A fundamental focus of the present paper and the ultimate goal of the Task Force is to promote the use of EBIs in psychology and education and specifically the field of school psychology. The agenda is critical for our profession inasmuch as schools are the largest provider of child mental health services (Burns et al., 1995), and for many children, the school is the only environment in which they receive mental health interventions (Hoagwood, Burns, Kiser, Ringeisen, & Schoenwald, 2001, 2003).

The EBI movement has gained tremendous momentum in the past few years with developments in psychology, medicine (e.g., psychiatry), education, and prevention science (e.g., Hoagwood et al., 2001; Kratochwill & Stoiber, 2002; Power, 2003). The Task Force has adopted a professional agenda that progresses through a sequence of activities: organization of research domains, identification of research studies, review of studies, evaluation and analysis to develop a research synthesis, and a summation of findings that involves interpretation, presentation, and dissemination of information on EBIs (Kratochwill, 2002). The final step and ultimate goal, which involves the promotion of EBIs in practice, presents a series of challenges to the Task Force and to other professional groups and organizations involved in the EBI movement (e.g., Division 12 and 53 of the American Psychological Association [APA]; the National Reading Panel, 2000; and the U.S. Department of Education-supported What Works Clearinghouse). One of the most serious of these challenges is the transportability of EBIs to practice (Chorpita, 2003; Schoenwald & Hoagwood, 2001). That the transportability of EBIs to practice is a challenge should come as no surprise in view of the struggles and challenges posed by scientific-practitioner models of training and practice for more than four decades. Moreover, there has been a long-standing concern over the adoption of "innovations" (Rogers, 1995), with the problems of disseminating and adopting innovative psychosocial interventions discussed at length by Backer, Liberman, and Kuehnel (1986). Nevertheless, the challenge to improve our services to children and schools continues, and at the nexus of this challenge is the adoption of research-based (or evidence-based) practices in diagnosis, assessment, and intervention. …

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