A Preliminary Analysis of a Behavioral Classrooms Needs Assessment

By Leaf, Justin B.; Leaf, Ronald et al. | International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, December 2016 | Go to article overview

A Preliminary Analysis of a Behavioral Classrooms Needs Assessment


Leaf, Justin B., Leaf, Ronald, McCray, Cynthia, Lamkins, Carol, Taubman, Mitchell, McEachin, John, Cihon, Joseph H., International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education


Introduction

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the application of behavioral principles to improve the lives of individuals (Baer, Wolf, & Risley, 1968, 1987). ABA based intervention can be implemented by a wide variety of people, including behavior analysts (Shook, Ala'i-Rosales, & Glenn, 2002), parents (Charlop-Christy & Carpenter, 2000), teachers (Koegel, Russo, & Rincover, 1977), and paraprofessionals (McCulloch & Noonan, 2013). A variety of procedures are implemented under the umbrella of ABA, including but not limited to: reinforcement (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007), prompting (e.g., Leaf, Sheldon, & Sherman, 2010; Touchettte, 1971), functional behavioral assessment (e.g., Hanley, Iwata, & McCord, 2003), punishment (e.g., Lerman & Vorndran, 2002), time-out (e.g., Donaldson & Vollmer, 2011), the teaching interaction procedure (TIP; e.g., Leaf et al., 2012), token economies (e.g., Ayllon & Azrin, 1965), video-modeling (e.g., Charlop-Christy, Le, & Freeman, 2000), and discrete trial teaching (DTT; Lovaas, 1987).

To date, procedures based upon the principles of ABA have strong empirical support, demonstrating effectiveness in improving the quality of life for individuals diagnosed with ASD (e.g., Howard, Ladew, Pollack, 2009; Odom, Collet-Klingenberg, Rogers, & Hatton, 2010). With the increasing prevalence of ASD, the number of children with diagnosed with ASD within public schools has risen. Moreover, the U.S. Department of Education (2011) reported that the number of students diagnosed with ASD who have had an IEP rose from approximately 95,000 in 2000 to over 450,000 in 2011. These students can be placed in regular education classrooms, self-contained special education classrooms, autism classrooms, or resource classrooms.

The increased prevalence of ASD has resulted in more classrooms using ABA methodology and more teachers and paraprofessionals receiving training in the principles of ABA (Carr, Howard, & Martin, 2015). It is common that teachers receive ongoing supervision and training on behavior analytic procedures by a variety of professionals, which can include on-site behavior analysts, off-site behavioral consultants, autism consultants, school administrators (e.g., principals, vice-principals, counselors), and district administrators (e.g., superintendents, special education directors, or special service supervisors). It is important that those utilizing behavioral analytic procedures implement them with a high degree of treatment fidelity to ensure meaningful progress, prevent errors by the learner, and the potential of harm to the learner. Thus, a comprehensive assessment that measures how well principles of ABA are implemented would be important and useful in school settings.

A comprehensive assessment could be beneficial for several reasons. First, it could be utilized to identify strengths and weaknesses that a classroom has at any given moment, which could be used for feedback and to inform training. Second, it could be utilized to track the progress of school staff throughout the school year. Tracking progress could help indicate if training can be faded or if a classroom requires more training. Third, it could be used in cases of litigation to determine if teachers and paraprofessionals are providing appropriate intervention based upon the student's IEP. Finally, a comprehensive assessment can help ensure that students diagnosed with ASD and other developmental disabilities receive the highest quality of intervention, which will help to ensure the students achieve the best possible outcomes.

Therefore, the purpose of this study was twofold. Experiment 1 explored the development of a Behavioral Classroom Needs Assessment by the researchers along with professional members of a large western school district to evaluate nine different domains pertaining to implementation of the principles of ABA within classrooms with a high degree of quality. …

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