As past director of the Master’s Program in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in the Psychology Department at Cal State LA, I was glad to see that the Glendale Unified School District has supported the training of teachers in some of the techniques of ABA such as positive reinforcement.
Applied behavior analysis is the only science- and evidence-based treatment for children with a wide range of learning and behavior disorders, including those diagnosed with autism, ADHD, ODD, etc. When used correctly, the techniques can produce dramatic and powerful results.
It is good to know that the teachers who were trained to use positive reinforcement are happy with the outcomes so far. However, teacher reports of success are not the same as scientific evidence. An integral part of ABA is being able to document the claims of success or, more generally, to assess whether a particular intervention was effective or not.
To wit, there are several types of assessments that can be carried out to test the effectiveness of a specific intervention. Carrying out such assessments, especially if they document the teachers’ claims, might help to secure more funding for training even more teachers.
Finally, educational technologies based on the scientific principles of ABA are not restricted to children with developmental or learning difficulties; they have also been shown to produce dramatic and positive results with typically developing children and adults both in and outside of educational settings.
Thus, the GUSD should consider incorporating more of these technologies with all students. If done correctly, I think teachers, administrators and parents would witness even better results than the excellent GUSD produces now.
Dr. Henry D. Schlinger, Jr.