Responsibility for using effective practices
With whom does the responsibiliy lie?
Writing in the venerable New England Journal of Medicine, in early March of 2022, Christopher Robertson and Margaret Houtz examined an intriguing question about medical services. Under the title, “When Desperate Patients Go to Court for Unproven Treatments—The Battle for Hospital Independence,” they discussed the situation in medicine when patients or their family members seek legal support for demands that physicians and hospitals employ ineffective or even harmful treatments. Their article prompted me to think about the responsibility of special educators when asked to employ ineffective interventions.
All of the audiences of Special Education Today should be engaged in the question about objecting to employing ineffective interventions. Let’s take the constituencies one by one:
The first question may well be whether educators know effective from ineffective or harmful interventions. What if educators themselves are advocating ineffective (or harmful) interventions? Certainly, a substantial part of the responsibility for helping practicing educators know what’s effective rests with teacher educators. Prospective and practicing teachers deserve instruction in identifying and employing evidence-based practices. In-service sessions that promote ineffective practices simply shouldn’t happen.
Teacher educators have responsibility for educating themselves about the effectiveness of practices. Not only should they read and translate research evidence, they join with professional organizations in advocating effective practices. Perhaps not all sub-groups of the Council for Exceptional Children do so, but many openly promote employment of effective practices and dissemination of trustworthy recommendations for teaching. Examples: Division for Autism and Developmental Disabilities, Division for Research, Division for Learning Disabilities, Division for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners, Divsion for Emotional & Behavioral Health.
Parents and other comsumers should not be seeking BS treatments. They need quality evidence about what works.
Experts have to provide objective evidence of effectiveness, not advocacy. It matters less what “I believe” as an exhaulted expert than what “I can prove.”
Let’s work on these ideas, please.
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