Scientifically Based Research in Special Education: How Does It Apply to My Military Child?

By Martinez, Luz Adriana | The Exceptional Parent, April 2008 | Go to article overview

Scientifically Based Research in Special Education: How Does It Apply to My Military Child?


Martinez, Luz Adriana, The Exceptional Parent


In the 2004 publication

of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), several changes that align this law with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), occurred. One of the major provisions of both the IDEA and NCLB is that teachers must use scientifically based research and best practices when instructing students.

So what does all this mean for the child, especially the military child, in the special education classroom? Parents may ask why scientifically based research and best practices are something to be concerned about. When using scientifically based research, the strategies included in the curriculum have been proven to be effective by methods that look at the results in a variety of ways. For military or mobile students, such practices are important because parents need to know that not all research is the same. What may be a best practice in one state may not necessarily be used in another state. A student may be meeting his or her goals in one school while using such practices, then move due to their family servicemember's Permanent Change of Station (PCS). Having the knowledge of best practices can assist families in taking this information with them to their next school so that their child can continue to achieve success, regardless of their location. Prior to the reauthorization of the IDEA and NCLB, teachers and others developed curriculum they felt worked but that sometimes has subsequently been proven not to address the needs of all children in the same way.

For this reason, Congress stressed the need for students to be taught using strategies that have been proven effective by valid research. Valid research follows a standard scientific process and contains specific elements. The research must be:

1) Independent

2) Quantitative

3) Qualitative

4) Of Adequate Sample Size

5) Controlled for Variables

6) Able to Be Replicated

7) Subject to Peer Review

Independent or third-party research: The individuals conducting the study should have nothing to gain or lose based on the results of the study. Quantitative research: The data gathered is quantifiable--i.e., it can be objectively measured, reflecting observable fact versus opinion. …

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