chapter  16
Leadership and Instruction: Evidence-Based Practices in Special Education
ByBryan G. Cook, Garnett J. Smith
Pages 16

At the heart of schooling is the desire to improve those student outcomes deemed important for the development and success of individual students as well as the broader community. The focus on improving student outcomes appears to be particularly important for special education, because of the unique and typically problematic learning characteristics and outcomes of students with disabilities (Snell, 2003). However straightforward and amenable the goal of improved student outcomes appears to be, it begs an important question: What instructional practices can educators use to optimally improve targeted student outcomes? Or, more colloquially, how can educators know what works? In this chapter, we discuss evidence-based practices (EBPs), a contemporary reform that has the potential to transform education by meaningfully enhancing student outcomes (e.g., Cook, Smith, & Tankersley, 2011; Slavin, 2002). Specifi cally, we begin by discussing why using personal experience to determine what works may lead to false positives and false negatives, then describe the contributions and limitations of educational research and evidence-based reviews for identifying eff ective practices, provide an overview of EBPs in special education, and conclude with a discussion of how special education leaders (e.g., school, district, and state administrators; teacher educators) can facilitate the implementation of EBPs.