Academic journal article The Behavior Analyst Today

Quality and Comprehensive Applications of Behavior Analysis to Schooling

Academic journal article The Behavior Analyst Today

Quality and Comprehensive Applications of Behavior Analysis to Schooling

Article excerpt

We describe the CABAS[R] system for developing and maintaining quality in schools that provide a system-wide application of behavior analysis to all of the components of education for teaching the entire curriculum to students. The system has accrued an extensive database for developing and maintaining quality applications. We outline some of those components including: minimal standards of teaching as applied behavior analysis, curricula for teachers and other professionals, research-based tools to train and monitor professionals, curriculum revisions for students occasioned by our research, CABAS[R] and quality, an overview of the CABAS[R] system. We also show data display examples from one of our schools in Ireland for children with autism and one of our middle schools for students with behavioral disorders, and the CABAS[R] approach to monitoring and accrediting CABAS[R] schools and professionals. Finally, we provide references for our research-based tools for other providers of behavior analytic services.


The basic and applied science of the behavior of the individual has led to improved instructional and therapeutic practices over the last sixty years (Greer, 1997a, 1997b). Increasingly, parents of children with autism have insisted on the scientifically based procedures of applied behavior analysis for their children (O'Brian, 2001). Those of us who have spent our professional lives researching and developing scientifically based services are delighted. Education and therapy have been plagued by fads, fashions, and the pervasive control of pre- scientific contingencies (Greer, 1992). For an increasing number of parents, data based procedures are on at least equal footing with the latest fashion. However, unless the day in and day out applications of the science are precise and reflect the expertise of the science, we will not provide the necessary quality for the outcomes predicated by our research and model treatment programs. The long-term survival of good practices will depend on the integrity of applications, and the integrity of the application will determine our capacity to help children.

We suspect that the quality of application of research findings varies greatly across settings and providers. Over the last 20 years, our particular systems approach to education as behavior analysis has provided a research base for increasing the quality and cost-benefit ratio of applications to education and child behavior therapy. We call our system CABAS[R] (Comprehensive Application of Behavior Analysis to Schooling). While many of the tactics and strategies are currently accessible in the research literature, other research findings are not yet accessible in published form or are dispersed across a variety of journals. Several papers have summarized the system and described the research base from the first two decades (Greer, 1997a, 1997b); however, those papers have not highlighted tactics that develop and maintain quality. In this paper we take the opportunity to provide a description of a few of the critical procedures for developing, monitoring, and maintaining quality application of behavior analysis. A book-length manuscript with in depth technical descriptions of these and other procedures should be available in a few months (Greer, in press).

Minimal Standards

The minimal and more conspicuous standards of quality applications of behavior analysis are outlined in Table 1. The importance of close continual contact with the moment-to-moment outcomes of applications is evident (Bushell & Baer, 1994). In the beginning there were data, and in the quest for quality, data are even more critical as we shall describe. Visual displays, and how they are used, make the difference between applications that work and those that don't (Greer, McCorkle, & Williams, 1989). As behavior analysts, our applications are individually based, and require data in order to be successful. …

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