by James C. Sherlock
To discover the origins of the legend that Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is effective, we have to dig into the interlocking government and ed school interest groups that fund and publish “studies” that validate their views.
The goal of the ed schools is always to capture the attention, funding and approval of the federal Department of Education (DOE) of their new bright ideas.
The method is to use DOE’s own seemingly limitless grant money and its bureaucracy’s predisposition to progressive causes to fund studies conducted by progressive “educators” that prove progressive theory.
Where is the anti-trust division of the Justice Department when we need it?
The legend of PBIS effectiveness is perhaps most founded on a famous study conducted in Maryland, the results of which were reported in 2010. The abstract claimed that the schools in the trial experienced significant reductions in student suspensions and office discipline referrals compared to the control group.
That worked until the Department’s Institute for Education Sciences What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) took a look at that study more than a decade later and found that while the study design and execution met scientific standards, it offered:
- “No Statistically Significant Positive Findings”; and
- that the evidence for that finding was strong.
Many of Virginia’s school divisions have gone down the PBIS rabbit hole and continue to do so at great cost both in time and money and in opportunity costs, i.e. the ability to try interventions actually proven to work.
We’ll trace that 2010 report.
We will find that the study’s leader, now a professor at the University of Virginia’s ed school, is now on the inside of IES, chairing a What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guide on positive behavior support.
Yeah, my take is the same as yours.
The swamp is eternal. Continue reading