Fads in Special Education
The U.S. Department of Education (USDE, 2014) reported that more than 5.8 million children, or 8.4% of the total student population between the ages of 2 and 6, received services under IDEA Part B in 2012 (IDEA, 2004). Of these students receiving special education services, 40% were classified as having specific learning disabilities, 18% had speech or language impairments, 7% were diagnosed as having autism, and 7% were classified as having intellectual disabilities, with the remaining students falling into the categories of other health impairments, emotional disturbances, and all other disabilities combined (USDE, 2014). Despite the fact that federal legislation has required the use of teaching strategies that are evidence based (IDEA, 2004; Morrier, Hess, & Heflin, 2011), service delivery professionals do not consistently apply evidence-based strategies with students receiving special education services (Hess, Morrier, Heflin, & Ivey, 2008; Schreck & Mazur, 2008). While evidence-based practice has been an integral part of medicine since the beginning of the 20th century (Bernard, 1957), reliance on scientific evidence for selecting appropriate educational interventions has not kept pace with other health-related services (Vyse, 2005). For a variety of cultural, fiduciary, logistical, and educational reasons, there is a gap between the IDEA requirements to use empirically based teaching strategies and their actual implementation by educators and service delivery professionals (Fixsen & Blasé, 1993; Neef, 1995; Odom, Bratlinger, Gersten, Horner, Thompson, & Harris, 2005; Page, Iwata, & Reid, 1982; Shreck & Mazur, 2008).