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date: 15 December 2018

Evidence-Based Practices in Special Schooling

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.

Evidence-based teaching strategies comprise clearly specified teaching methods that have been shown in controlled research to be effective in bringing about desired outcomes in a specified population of learners, in this case those with special educational needs. Educators could, and should, be drawing upon the best available evidence as they plan, implement, and evaluate their teaching of such learners. The past decade has seen a growing commitment to evidence-based education. This has been reflected in

(a) legislation: for example, the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act in the United States, which encourages the use of specific programs and practices that have been rigorously evaluated, and defines strong, moderate, and promising levels of evidence for programs and practices;

(b) a growing body of research into effective strategies, both in general and with respect to learners with special educational needs; and

(c) the creation of centers specializing in gathering and disseminating evidence-based education policies and practices, brokering connections between policymakers, practitioners, and researchers,

Even so, in most countries there is a significant gap between what researchers have found and educational policies and practices. Moreover, some writers criticize the emphasis on evidence-based education, particularly what they perceive to be the prominence given to quantitative or positivist research in general and to randomized controlled trials in particular.