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Evidence-Based Practices in Special Education: Current Assumptions and Future Considerations

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The research on evidence-based practices (EBP) in special education has shifted over the last decade from identifying efficacious interventions to exploring issues that impede implementation in the classroom. Common barriers to implementation include absence of training and resources, limited collaboration between researchers and practitioners, and the lack of fit between the intervention and environment. These obstacles are frequently cited in the literature in relation to the disparity between research and practice. Although the barriers cited in the research are valid, it is important for stakeholders to investigate this issue from other perspectives and to consider obstacles not readily discussed.


The purpose of this article is to examine how contradictions between implementation fidelity and individualized instruction, and misconceptions between educational terminology and legislation, all impede implementation of evidence-based practices.


A review of the EBP literature was conducted, beginning with pivotal research discussed in evidence-based reviews to examine the differences between EBPs and other terminology. Additionally, the outcomes of various court cases were reviewed to determine whether EBPs are in fact legally required.


A new set of assumptions is required to highlight the barriers not readily discussed regarding the implementation of EBPs. Specifically, the importance of individualizing instruction for students and how these modifications and accommodations may impact fidelity of implementation. Additionally, researchers and policymakers must clarify the ambiguous language used in legislation and relevant terminology, and communicate these discrepancies to all stakeholders.

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Correspondence to Jacqueline Russo-Campisi.

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The author has no conflict of interest.

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This study does not include primary data, thus, no ethics approval was applicable.

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Russo-Campisi, J. Evidence-Based Practices in Special Education: Current Assumptions and Future Considerations. Child Youth Care Forum 46, 193–205 (2017).

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