Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

A Meta-Analysis of Interventions to Improve the Compliance of Students with Disabilities

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

A Meta-Analysis of Interventions to Improve the Compliance of Students with Disabilities

Article excerpt


The current meta-analysis examined the evidence for interventions to improve compliance of students with disabilities in school settings. Experimental investigations that investigated compliance or non-compliance and took place with students in a school setting who were between birth and 23 years old were evaluated using the Council for Exceptional Children's (CEC) guidelines for evidence-based practices. Summary outcome measures utilized were percentage of non-overlapping data and the between-case standardized mean difference (BC-SMD). Results found a variety of interventions to be generally effective with regard to study effects, but not in compliance with CEC's standards. Only one intervention could be described as potentially evidence-based for improving the compliance of students with disabilities in school settings: High probability command sequences. Implications for future research are presented.

Keywords: compliance, functional-behavioral assessment, behavior-specific praise, effective instruction, high-probability command sequence


Noncompliance among children and adolescents remains a persistent concern for school professionals and is a frequent reason for referral for professional help (Bernal, Klinnert, & Schultz, 1980; Forehand, Gardner, & Roberts, 1978; McMahon & Forehand, 2005; Wilder, Harris, Reagan, & Rasey, 2007). Within the public schools, defiance was the most common type of office discipline referrals (ODRs) in the 2011-2012 academic year across elementary, middle, and high school levels. This finding was based on the examination of 4,407,677 total ODRs collected by 3,092 schools from 10 states using the school-wide information system (SWIS) database. Specifically, defiance accounted for 36% of minor and 27% for major ODRs at the elementary level, 37% and 33% at the middle, and 25% and 25% at the high school level. Minor ODRs are similar to major ODRs though described as inappropriate behaviors low in intensity and non-serious (Flannery, Fenning, McGrath-Cato, & Bohanon, 2013; Gion, Mcintosh, & Horner, 2014). In any case, early detection and intervention is necessary before these behaviors become more severe and resource intensive (Gion et al., 2014; Mcintosh, Frank, & Spaulding, 2010).

Noncompliance often inhibits a child's participation in organized activities, is likely to strain relationships with other children, hinders academic engagement and performance, and may result in physical harm, particularly among young children (Kalb & Loeber, 2003; Gion et al., 2014). Noncompliance refers to " ... those instances when a child either actively or passively, but purposefully, does not perform a behavior that has been requested by a parent or other adult authority figure" (Kalb & Loeber, 2003, p. 641). In contrast, compliance is a critical behavior in children as it is foundational in other pro-social behaviors (Radley & Dart, 2016).

Addressing this critical area of concern has been challenging, particularly given the fact that severe cases of noncompliance remain relatively stable over time (Kalb & Loeber, 2003). To this effect, the impact of parenting on compliance is critical because high rates of noncompliance, beginning in early childhood, may result in chronic disruptive behaviors including conduct disorders (Degangi, Breinbauer, Doussard-Roosevelt, Porges, & Greenspan, 2000; Forehand, 1977; Forehand & Atkeson, 1977; Owen, Slep, & Heyman, 2012). In general, researchers have attempted to discuss non-compliance in behavior analytic terms and divide interventions to reduce instances of noncompliance into antecedent and consequent strategies. Indeed, many books and articles have been written describing functional behavioral assessment (FBA) and behavioral intervention plans (BIP) as the go-to method for reducing childhood non-compliance (e.g., Colvin, 2009; Maag, 1999). Additionally, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA, 2004) mandated the use of FBAs in instances where a child is subjected to a disciplinary change of placement and the behavior of concern is determined to be a manifestation of the child's disability (20 U. …

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