Efficacy of Special Education

Kenneth A. Kavale and Lucinda S. Spaulding

in The Oxford Handbook of School Psychology

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780195369809
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Efficacy of Special Education

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  • Educational Psychology



This chapter discusses effective practices for improving special education student achievement outcomes. The early special education emphasis on process training (e.g., perceptual–motor training, psycholinguistic training) whose goal was to “fix” and “cure” students with disabilities is shown to be ineffective for improving student learning. Realizing that process training had limited efficacy, special education shifted emphasis to a teaching–learning paradigm, focused on academic instruction guided by research-based practices that permit student gains across content areas. This positive shift in emphasis is traced through the accumulated findings from quantitative research syntheses (i.e., meta-analyses) which themselves have been combined (i.e., mega-analysis) to inform the field about “what works” in special education.

Keywords: special education; process training; research-based practices; academic interventions; meta-analysis; mega-analysis; strategy instruction; direct instruction; school psychology

Article.  21852 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Educational Psychology

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