Blue Ribbon Findings on Evidence-Based Practices
The National Autism Center’s National Standards Project and the National Professional Development Center (NPDC) on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) almost entirely agree on which educational interventions are effective for children with ASD (National Autism Center, 2009; Wong et al., 2013). They used a stringent review process that incorporated clear criteria for evaluating evidence from over two decades of research. Of the 27 evidence-based practices identified by the NPDC, 26 were identified by the National Standards Project as established or emerging practices. Educational practitioners can access 12 of the 27 evidence-based practices in TeachTown Basics and TeachTown Social Skills.
Figure 1 shows the overlap between evidence-based practices identified by the NPDC and the National Standards Project and their alignment to TeachTown programs. The NPDC has provided step-by-step guides for implementing each practice. TeachTown has used these guidelines to rate the extent to which each practice is visible in our programs. An important point from the NPDC and National Standards Project analyses of intervention research is that almost all of the interventions listed as evidence-based are based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). While the NPDC and the National Standards Project agree that effective instruction for children with ASD consists of ABA-based interventions, this consensus is not sufficient to facilitate the use of evidence-based practices in schools (Kasari & Smith, 2013; Strain, Schwartz & Barton, 2011). One barrier is the intensive nature of ABA-based interventions, which relies heavily on one-to-one intervention. Another barrier is that virtually all proven-efficacious, ABA-based interventions lack a curriculum that addresses a broad range of student needs, with clear lesson plans and program materials for group work (Dingfelder & Mandell, 2011). Further they often do not include an educational practitioner-friendly method for data collection to monitor fidelity and student progress or programming for generalization of skills. TeachTown: Basics and TeachTown: Social Skills address these obstacles by providing practitioners with fully manualized, ABA-based, technology-assisted interventions paired with specific curriculum content, clear lesson plans for generalization, and comprehensive automated data collection and reporting systems.
Conclusion
The NPDC and the National Standards Project have conducted the most recent and systematic review of intervention research. They have identified the key components of interventions that are essential to improving student outcomes. Many of these aspects are integral to TeachTown: Basics and TeachTown: Social Skills. The NPDC has also made important progress toward defining these evidence-based practices by providing step-by-step directions for implementing the practices. TeachTown is committed to using these guidelines along with input from practitioners to refine our programs over time.