Journal of Behavioral Education

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 348–370 | Cite as

Comparing Brief Experimental Analysis and Teacher Judgment for Selecting Early Reading Interventions

  • Dana L. Wagner
  • Melissa Coolong-Chaffin
  • Aaron R. Deris
Original Paper


The purpose of this study was to examine the use of brief experimental analysis (BEA) to identify early reading interventions for students in the primary grades and to compare teachers’ judgments about their students’ early reading intervention needs to BEA results. In addition, the research was conducted to explore how teachers make decisions regarding early reading intervention selection and evaluation. Three teachers and three elementary students (two kindergarten and one second grade) participated in the study. A BEA using a multielement design with mini-reversals was used to test the effects of four different interventions. Each teacher selected an intervention that she judged to be the most promising for her student. An extended analysis using an alternating treatments design compared the relative effects of the BEA-identified intervention and the teacher-identified intervention across time. The teachers were interviewed before and after selecting and implementing the interventions. The extended analysis results showed that the BEA-identified intervention was more effective than the teacher-identified intervention for all participants. Initial and final interview findings revealed that the teachers reported using data to make intervention decisions, but with limited specificity and in some cases, misjudgments. The results are discussed in regard to limitations and future research.


Brief experimental analysis Teacher judgment Early reading 


  1. Al Otaiba, S., & Fuchs, D. (2002). Characteristics of children who are unresponsive to early literacy intervention: A review of the literature. Remedial and Special Education, 23, 300–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Begeny, J. C., Eckert, T. L., Montarello, S., & Storie, M. S. (2008). Teachers’ perceptions of students’ reading abilities: An examination of the relationship between teachers’ judgments and students’performance across a continuum of rating methods. School Psychology Quarterly, 23, 43–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Begeny, J. C., Krouse, H. E., Brown, K. G., & Mann, C. M. (2011). Teacher judgments of students’ reading abilities across a continuum of rating methods and achievement measures. School Psychology Review, 40, 23–38.Google Scholar
  4. Bonfiglio, C. M., Daly, E. J., Martens, B. K., Lin, L.-H. R., & Corsaut, S. (2004). An experimental analysis of reading interventions: Generalization across instructional strategies, time, and passages. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 37, 111–114.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Burns, M. K., & Wagner, D. (2008). Determining an effective intervention with brief experimental analysis for reading: A meta-analytic review. School Psychology Review, 37, 126–136.Google Scholar
  6. Burns, M. K., & Ysseldyke, J. E. (2009). Reported prevalence of evidence-based instructional practices in special education. Journal of Special Education, 43, 3–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chafouleas, S. M., Riley-Tillman, C., & Eckert, T. L. (2003). A comparison of school psychologists’ acceptability, training, and use of norm-referenced, curriculum-based, and brief experimental analysis methods to assess reading. School Psychology Review, 32, 272–282.Google Scholar
  8. Christ, T. J., Ardoin, S., Monaghen, B., VanNorman, E., & White, M. J. (2013). CBM reading: Technical manual. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Department of Educational Psychology.Google Scholar
  9. Coolong-Chaffin, M., & Wagner, D. (2015). Using brief experimental analysis to intensify tier 3 reading interventions. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 30, 193–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Daly, E. J., Garbacz, S. A., Olson, S. C., Persampieri, M., & Hong, N. (2006). Improving oral reading fluency by influencing students’ choice of instructional procedures: An experimental analysis with two students with behavioral disorders. Behavioral Interventions, 21, 13–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Daly, E. J., & Martens, B. K. (1994). Comparison of three interventions for increasing oral reading performance. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27, 459–469.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. Daly, E. J., Martens, B. K., Dool, E. J., & Hintze, J. M. (1998). Using brief functional analysis to select interventions for oral reading. Journal of Behavioral Education, 8, 203–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Daly, E. J., III, Martens, B. K., Hamler, K. R., Dool, E. J., & Eckert, T. L. (1999). A brief experimental analysis for identifying instructional components needed to improve oral reading fluency. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 32, 83–94.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. Daly, E. J., III, Persampieri, M., McCurdy, M., & Gortmaker, B. (2005). Generating reading interventions through experimental analysis of academic skills: Demonstration and empirical evaluation. School Psychology Review, 34, 395–414.Google Scholar
  15. Daly, E. J., III, Witt, J. C., Martens, B. K., & Dool, E. J. (1997). A model for conducting a functional analysis of academic performance problems. School Psychology Review, 26, 554–574.Google Scholar
  16. Deno, S. L. (2005). Problem-solving assessment. In R. Brown-Chidsey & K. J. Andren (Eds.), Assessment for intervention: A problem solving approach (pp. 10–38). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  17. Duhon, G. J., Noell, G. H., Witt, J. C., Freeland, J. T., Dufrene, B. A., & Gilbertson, D. N. (2004). Identifying academic skills and performance deficits: The experimental analysis of brief assessments of academic skills. School Psychology Review, 33, 429–443.Google Scholar
  18. Eckert, T. L., Ardoin, S. P., Daisey, D. M., & Scarola, M. D. (2000). Empirically evaluating the effectiveness of reading interventions: The use of brief experimental analysis and single case designs. Psychology in the Schools, 37, 463–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Eckert, T. L., Ardoin, S. P., Daly, E. J., III, & Martens, B. K. (2002). Improving oral reading fluency: A brief experimental analysis of combining an antecedent intervention with consequences. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 35, 271–281.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  20. Feinberg, A. B., & Shaprio, E. S. (2003). Accuracy of teacher judgments in predicting oral reading fluency. School Psychology Quarterly, 18, 52–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Feinberg, A. B., & Shapiro, E. S. (2009). Teacher accuracy: An examination of teacher-based judgments of student’s reading with differing achievement levels. The Journal of Educational Research, 102, 453–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fuchs, D., Mock, D., Morgan, P. L., & Young, C. L. (2003). Responsiveness to intervention: Definitions, evidence, and implications for the learning disabilities construct. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 18, 157–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gersten, R., Compton, D., Connor, C. M., Dimino, J., Santoro, L., Linan-Thompson, S., & Tilly, W. D. (2008). Assisting students struggling with reading: Response to intervention and multi-tier intervention for reading in the primary grades. A practice guide (NCEE 2009-4045). Washington: DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from
  24. Graney, S. B. (2009). General education teacher judgments of their low-performing student’s short-term reading progress. Psychology in the Schools, 45, 537–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hamilton, C., & Shinn, M. R. (2003). Characteristics of word callers: An investigation of the accuracy of teachers’ judgments of reading comprehension and oral reading skills. School Psychology Review, 32, 228–240.Google Scholar
  26. Hines, S. (2009). The effects of a color-coded onset-rime decoding intervention with first grade students at serious risk for reading disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 24, 21–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hoge, R. D., & Coladarci, T. (1989). Teacher-based judgments of academic achievement: A review of the literature. Review of Educational Research, 59, 297–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hornby, G., Gable, R. A., & Evans, W. (2013). Implementing evidence-based practice in education: What international literature reviews tell us and what they don’t. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 57(3), 119–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jones, K. M., & Wickstrom, K. F. (2002). Done in sixty seconds: Further analysis of the brief assessment model for academic problems. School Psychology Review, 31, 554–568.Google Scholar
  30. Joseph, L. M. (2002). Facilitating word recognition and spelling using word boxes and word sort phonic procedures. School Psychology Review, 31, 122–129.Google Scholar
  31. Klingner, J., Ahwee, S., Pilonieta, P., & Menendez, R. (2003). Barriers and facilitators in scaling up research-based practices. Exceptional Children, 69(4), 411–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Madelaine, A., & Wheldall, K. (2005). Identifying low-progress readers: Comparing teacher judgment with a curriculum based measurement procedure. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 52, 33–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. McMaster, K. L., Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L. S., & Compton, D. L. (2005). Responding to nonresponders: An experimental field trial of identification and intervention methods. Exceptional Children, 71, 445–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Miltenberger, R. G. (2007). Behavior modification principles and procedures (4th ed.). Wadsworth Publishing.Google Scholar
  35. National Center for Education Statistics. (2013). A first look: 2013 Mathematics and reading national assessment of educational progress at grades 4 and 8. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from
  36. National Center on Intensive Intervention. (2013). Data-based individualization: A framework for intensive intervention. Retrieved from
  37. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). Report to the National reading panel, teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research and its implications for reading instruction. Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  38. National Reading Panel. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. (NIH Publication No. 00-4754). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  39. Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2008). Learning styles: Concepts and evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9(3), 105–119.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Petursdottir, A., McMaster, K., McComas, J. J., Bradfield, T., Braganza, V., Koch-McDonald, J., et al. (2009). Brief experimental analysis of early reading interventions. Journal of School Psychology, 47, 215–243.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Rohrer, D., & Pashler, H. (2012). Learning styles: Where’s the evidence? Medical Education, 46(7), 634–635.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Salvia, J., Ysseldyke, J., & Bolt, S. (2011). Assessment in special and inclusive education (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.Google Scholar
  43. Shapiro, E. S. (2010). Academic skills problems: Direct assessment and intervention (4th ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  44. Torgeson, J. K. (2004). Avoiding the downward spiral: The evidence that early intervention prevents reading failure. American Educator, 3, 6–19.Google Scholar
  45. VanAuken, T. L., Cafouleas, S. M., Bradley, T. A., & Martens, B. (2002). Using brief experimental analysis to select oral reading interventions: An investigation of treatment utility. Journal of Behavioral Education, 11, 163–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Vaughn, S., Wanzek, J., Murray, C. S., & Roberts, G. (2012). Intensive interventions for students struggling in reading and mathematics: A practice guide. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction.Google Scholar
  47. Wagner, D., McComas, J. J., Bollman, K., & Holton, E. (2006). The use of functional analysis of academic response to intervention for oral reading. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 32, 40–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Willingham, D. T., Hughes, E. M., & Dobolyi, D. G. (2015). The scientific status of learning styles theories. Teaching of Psychology, 42(3), 266–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dana L. Wagner
    • 1
  • Melissa Coolong-Chaffin
    • 2
  • Aaron R. Deris
    • 1
  1. 1.Minnesota State University MankatoEdinaUSA
  2. 2.University of Wisconsin – Eau ClaireEau ClaireUSA

Personalised recommendations