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Special Ed. in UK

July 2, 2009

America is not the only country in the world that educates special education students. I know this is a shock – OK, it’s probably not. But you may be shocked that here in America we acknowledge that about 10% of our student population needs a specialized or Individual Education Plan (IEP), but in England and the UK, a recent report has set their Special Education Needs (SEN) population at 18%. Read the article.

I mention this article because it’s important to note that most of the world defines  special education students very differently then we do here in the US. I published a study (Interventions for Students With Behavioral Disorders: An International Literature Review) last year with Joel Lopes from Portugal about interventions for students with behavior disorders outside the US (email me for a copy of the article). After reviewing thousands of studies, we found only a handful of research that used empirical data-based decision-making to assess the effectiveness of behavior interventions for these students.

We (American researchers) often assume that quantitative data and experimental randomized control trial studies are the gold standard for defining the effectiveness of a treatment or intervention. However, as I quickly learned in my research for the article mentioned above, most other countries use different methods to define effectiveness. For example, most of the research I read from Australia, Canada and England utilized qualitative data and descriptive research practices. In fact, most of the literature was in the form or briefs or practice guides as opposed to formal research studies as is common here in the states.

My Point

It’s OK for us to look outside the box for ideas about behavioral interventions for students in special education and especially for our kids with behavior problems. I’m still a big fan of using evidence-based practices and prefer research that uses the scientific process (as opposed to a post-modern ‘mumble jumble’ perspective, as distinguished EBD researcher Jim Kauffman would probably say). But, we need to open our eyes to what the rest of the world is doing too. America is a learder in research in thousands of fields, but we are not the only one’s in this universe who are creating and discovering new knowedge. The Internet has flattened the world, and we in education need to take advantage of that to spread the word on interventions that work!

I’d love to hear what you think.

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