How can education professionals identify and select evidence-based practices or programs?
Page 4: Resources: Birth to Three
For Your Information
In the early childhood field, an evidence-based practice is defined as:
“[A] decision-making process that integrates the best available research evidence with family and professional wisdom and values.”
(Buysse & Wesley, 2006; Buysse et al., 2006)
Early intervention refers to services provided to infants and toddlers—typically from birth through their third birthday—who are at risk for or who have a developmental delay or disability. Although high-quality research is still the basis for defining an EBP in the field of early intervention, professional expertise plays a role in identifying and selecting an appropriate practice or program. Additionally, because family members are often active participants in early intervention services, and are often the primary decision makers regarding the child’s care, early intervention personnel should consider the family’s circumstances and preferences when choosing an EBP.
Sam Odom and ML Hemmeter discuss why it is important to consider a family’s needs when selecting an EBP.
Sam Odom, PhD Professor, Special Education Director, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
From the research literature, there should be and are practices that need a criterion for what would be called evidence-based. That is, there are enough studies that a practitioner could have confidence that the practice is scientifically based. There are usually multiple practices that might address a specific goal that a child might have. There might be a choice among practices to address a specific goal. Professional expertise comes in determining which practice might fit the child best or might be most effective for the child. Which among the evidence-based practices might be most appropriate for the child in their individual goal. So that expertise reflects the training that the professional has, their experience in the field, their understanding of the individual child, their family and context.
I think family values enter the picture when goals have been developed for the child so the families are very much involved in developing goals through the IFSP, the IEP process, and informing the professional about characteristics of the child that might help that professional identify the kind of practice that might be used, and as well professionals discussing with the family about strategies that might be used and the family providing their input about how acceptable the practice is. The issues may be different for early intervention and preschool special education, in that early intervention often occurs in the home, and so the intervention practices actually happen within that home or the family context, so they are more likely to have an impact on the family’s routines and interactions that occur with the child in the home. For example, it could be that if a naturalistic intervention is planned for a child in the home and it’s effective if the parents are able to use it throughout the day in natural routines. There may be a limitation if the parent, primary caregiver, has other children siblings in the home that also require her or his caregiving. So then in some cases feasibility may play in, depending on the family circumstances.
So in those cases, families may have very specific ideas about whether a practice is feasible to use in the home or whether it is something they agreed they can actually do. In preschool special education, the child’s more often in a preschool classroom, either inclusive or a special education classroom, and the family might weigh in on their preferences for the kinds of instruction that occurs, the kinds of things that happen with a child in those classrooms. But because it’s more distant from the home, I think it’s less likely that the impacts as great as it would be in the home.
Transcript: ML Hemmeter, PhD
Often, when we’re selecting practices that we would want to use with young children, we solicit input from families. In terms of selecting a practice that we would use with an individual family, it really becomes important to think about what are the family’s needs, what are the family’s circumstances, what is the family likely to implement given their circumstances. It’s really about saying here’s what the child needs to learn. In what context are you most likely to be able to implement some practice or some instructional program for the child, and to select the practice that best fits in with the routine of the family?
Once you have determined the child’s needs, family preferences, and your available resources, you can start looking for an EBP. The inventory of EBPs is constantly changing and being updated, so it is important to consult reliable sources offering current information. Click on the links below for lists of organizations that are trustworthy sources for current evidence-based practices as well as training resources for those working with children ages birth to three. As you review these resources, remember that each organization or agency has its own rating system for evaluating the quality of practices or programs. With this in mind, you should become familiar with each organization or agency’s rating system so that you can make an informed decision.
Description: This center promotes the use of evidence-based early literacy learning practices with children identified with disabilities, developmental delays, and those at-risk for poor outcomes. The CELLreviews are research syntheses of early literacy learning studies.
Research review with key findings (includes effect sizes)
Description: This center offers materials related to the social-emotional development and school readiness of young children. Information on EBPs can be found in the “Research Syntheses” and “What Works Briefs” sections of the site.
Sample Topics Social-Emotional Skills
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EBP Resources For Children, Including Infants and Toddlers
The resources in this section provide information on practices and programs for children of all ages, including children birth to three years.
Description: Although useful for improving the achievement of all students, these resources target struggling learners, students with special needs, and diverse learners. Of particular interest in searching for EBPs are the “Research: Meta-analyses” and “Summaries and the Practitioner Guides.”
Description: This organization offers a vast collection of Recommended Practices derived from scientific literature on effective practices for young children and their families, as well as the knowledge and experience of those who work with them.
Description: This site provides evidence of effectiveness for home-visiting program models that target families with pregnant women and children from birth to age five. Sections of the website of particular interest include “Program Model Reports,” “Outcome Domain Reports,” and “Implementation Profiles.”
Description: This site provides information about evidence-based practices for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Of particular interest are the EBP Briefs and the EBP Fact Sheets.
Description: This website provides information on practices and programs* that address a wide range topics aimed at improving the lives of children and families. Of particular interest are the “Programs that Work” section and the Issue Briefs.
Note: The project hosting this website has ended. However, its resources are still available online though they are not currently being updated.
* This organization only requires one study to identify a practice or program as proven or promising.
Description: This site provides resources about evidence-based models and practices that improve the social-emotional outcomes for young children with delays or disabilities or at risk for them. On the “What Do You Want To Do?” menu, select “Browse Resources.” Of particular interest are the Issue Briefs, Roadmap to Effective Intervention Practices, and Tools.
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Training Resources for Personnel Working with Infants and Toddlers
The resource below is largely intended for training purposes. Although it presents research evidence about the effectiveness of a practice or program, its primary purpose is to model implementation.
Description: This site offers modules that are designed to build the ability of early childhood practitioners to use the integration of multiple sources of evidence to make decisions about practice dilemmas. These modules focus on how those working with young children with disabilities and their families in a variety of learning environments and inclusive settings can respond to the challenges they face every day.
Communication for Collaboration
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Another source of information about EBPs is the IRIS Center’s Evidence-Based Practice Summaries. These summaries of research about the effectiveness of instructional strategies and interventions contain links to research reports and include information about an intervention’s level of effectiveness and the age groups for which it is designed.
Note: The activities on Perspectives & Resources pages 4, 5, and 6 are identical, with the exception of the age group. Complete an activity for the age group most relevant to your current or future position.
Choose a topic that interests you or might be helpful for a child and family you are currently working with. Using the resources referenced on this page, print out and complete the EBP Comparison Worksheet. Choose the most appropriate practice or program from the ones listed on your completed worksheet and explain why you chose it.