Connecting to Evidence-Based Teaching Practices

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smallgroup&teacherby Kyrie Dragoo
National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities

You know what’s hot these days? Data. You may have heard about New York Times blogger Nate Silver’s remarkable 50-for-50 correct predictions of the presidential election this year. Possibly, you’ve been following the monthly “jobs report” on unemployment in the U.S. and seeing the data graphs that accompany it. Or perhaps you’ve just been working in schools since the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2002 (“No Child Left Behind”) introduced a laser-like focus on evidence-based practices.

“Let’s See What the Numbers Say”

Data are all around us. But is making use of data just for geeks and sports fanatics? No, and you don’t need a degree in advanced statistics to make data-based decisions. You do it every day, every time you choose the fastest route to work or plan a lesson for your particular mix of students. Data-based decision making is simply the use of credible information to inform decisions.  The U.S. Department of Education funds the What Works Clearinghouse to help identify evidence-based practices for educators as a tool to inform data-based decisions.

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We Help You Find What You Need

In education research, many individual studies are conducted on a single intervention with a limited number of students. This yields a wide range of results that make it difficult to see a comprehensive picture of whether or not a particular intervention works.  So researchers sometimes conduct what’s called a meta-analysis, where the results of many studies on the same intervention are analyzed together to give a more accurate picture of how effective that intervention is.  Researchers have conducted many meta-analyses on special education topics, and the results of these meta-analyses are often of great interest to general and special education teachers alike.  Unfortunately, because meta-analyses are usually only available in research journals many educators never get a chance to actually read and use them to inform practice.

That is where NICHCY’s research summaries come in.  We synthesize the findings of meta-analyses from numerous journals to bring you information on research-based practices and let you know what interventions are effective. Best of all, NICHCY’s research summaries bring you the most important findings for classroom teachers and provide connections to additional resources. You can link to additional information, tools, and examples of effective practice, in just a few brief pages.  No need to slog through research journals to try to find strategies you can use in your classroom; NICHCY has simplified the process for you.

Browse our research summaries in specific topic areas like reading, writing, or math interventions, or browse by disability category.  NICHCY offers multiple research summaries on AD/HD, autism spectrum disorders, emotional/behavioral disorders, and learning disabilities (LD).  Each summary provides background on the topic of the meta-analysis, information on the purpose of the study, the intervention examined, the children who participated, how effective the intervention was (i.e., the effect size), and the researchers’ conclusions and recommendations for future research. In two cases, we’ve paired the research summary with a companion page of resources for teachers, because we found the results of the meta-analysis so compelling.

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Summaries to Get You Started

Interested but not sure where to start?  With over 80 research summaries, it can be difficult to know where to begin.  Here are several of our favorites to get you started:

On Specific Disabilities

On Autism  |  Comprehensive Synthesis of Early Intensive Behavioral Interventions for Young Children with Autism Based on the UCLA Young Autism Project Model (Lovaas)

On AD/HD | Effects of School-Based Interventions for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Meta-Analysis

On LD | Reading Comprehension Instruction for Students with Learning Disabilities, 1995–2006: A Meta-Analysis

Particularly Compelling Meta-Analyses and Their Companion Pages of Resources

On What Works | Do Special Education Interventions Improve Learning of Secondary Content? A Meta-Analysis

Meta 80’s Companion Page | Using What Works

On Co-Teaching | Co-Teaching in Inclusive Classrooms: A Metasynthesis of Qualitative Research

Meta 81’s Companion Page | General and Special Educators Working Together

We invite you to visit our Research Summaries collection and search for those meta-analyses that correspond to your work, your subject matter, and your students!  There’s a handy “share” button at the top of each summary, so feel free to share with your colleagues, too.

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NOTICE: NICHCY is going away, but its resources are not. Find hundreds of legacy NICHCY publications, as well as our training curriculum on IDEA 2004, in the Center for Parent Information and Resources' Library at This website will remain available until September 30, 2014. After that date, web visitors will be automatically redirected to