Over the past 5 years, Verbal Behavior Institute (VBI) is increasingly called on as a resource to settle law suits. We are called by attorneys, funding sources (such as school districts and counties) and by parents seeking to end costly litigation.
The costs of litigation START with legal fees and a great deal of stress. The loss of time to the child usually at the center of the storm is always a cost that is hard, if not impossible to calculate. The stress both on families and on instructional and administrative staff in districts is a cost. The tension and lack of trust that develops is a cost. The character attacks that frequently accompany these tense and adversarial relations are another cost challenging to calculate. Some of the cases drag on for years and years, costing over a hundred thousand dollars, in addition to alienating people from the very towns they reside in. In NJ, where we are the LEAST inclusive state for public education in the USA, the outcome often of litigation is often to “send the kid out”. Meaning, the child leaves their home school district and it placed in a more restrictive “approved private school” often costing well over $100,000 per year to the district. The list of “costs” goes on and on.
VBI seeks to provide a service as mid-ground. We are data based, educators who understand the various sides of the disputes that arise. We are consistent with one thread that binds all we do. Focus on the child. Focus on providing an efficient and effective education with evidence based practices; that are sustainable over time. We start there, and through the battles and brawls, we always come back to re-focus there. Yet, we constantly view the havoc that can be created in those circumstances where well intentioned people, find themselves in court battling over differences. At VBI – we’ve found ourselves looking at what we do, how we do it, and what differentiates our success. The data or our review suggests that being “educators” who worked in schools as teachers, psychologists and school principal = has a great deal with successful outcomes. Concurrently, it was with great interest that I came across a new method of developing sustainable practices, in LARGE SCALE groups.
I found myself sitting in a presentation for a people who wanted to understand more about the coming changes to Medical and LARGE SCALE organizations through the recently enacted “Affordable Care Act.” There was a researcher, a speaker from the University of North Carolina presenting her research on 5 years of collecting data on how to implement large scale systemic change. The ensuring information ROCKED ME in my seat…Basically what I listened to that got my attention was that the manner in which we (in education) have been doing things such as in service training, staff development, consultation etc., has little long term effective value. On the other hand, the research showed that there are specific defined measures and competencies that can be developed over time – that create a 97% retention for long term (more than a year!). The data was amazing and the information; eye opening.
This year we are targeting the implementation of the KEYS of that research. They are listed here:
RELIABLY PRODUCE PREDICTABLE OUTCOMES for Children, school districts and communities THAT IMPROVE EVERY YEAR FOR THE NEXT 50 YEARS.
So with those ambitious goals, how are we changing our practice?
- A) We are treating each school district that we are working in, with the new data; following the procedures for “baseline” – “treatment” and “outcome”; at the district level
- B) When a district starts a program – we will take a position based on analysis and interaction with administrators at the building and district level, to craft a “plan” for the process of arriving at sustainable, change.
- C) finally, as our own control on this “evidence based practice” – we are in process of developing the format for a research presentation at next year’s annual conference at ABA International in Seattle, Washington. We are hoping to confer with the professors at UNC to tweak and tune our process, specifically towards education – in light of the information presented at this year’s international “Scaling Up” conference.
It is an exciting time – and if you would like to know more about how your district can participate in change that will shape the future of education in the State of New Jersey; please follow our web site for coming presentations on the administration of scalable change or give us a call at (732) 254-0300.
VBI’s continues to support the “Best Practice” of ABA – Verbal Behavior method, in a sustainable, fiscally responsible manner for children with Autism and their families.