Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.

Statement on Students' Right to Effective Education, 1990

Based on the principles that have been demonstrated to improve student learning and performance, the following are recommended educational entitlements for all students:


1.   The student's overall educational context should include:

a.   Social and physical school environments that encourage and maintain academic achievement and progress, and discourage behavior inconsistent with those goals;

b.   Schools that treat students with care and individual attention, comparable to that offered by a caring family;

c.   School programs that provide support and training for parents in parenting and teaching skills; and

d.   Consequences and attention at home that encourage and maintain success at school.



2.   Curriculum and instructional objectives should: 

a.   Be based on empirically validated hierarchies or sequences of instructional objectives and measurable performance criteria that are demonstrated to promote cumulative mastery and that are of long-term value in the culture;

b.   Specify mastery criteria that include both the accuracy and the speed dimensions of fluent performance;

c.   Include objectives that specify both long-term and short-term personal and vocational success, and that, once mastered, will be maintained by natural consequences in everyday living; and

d.   Include long-term retention and maintenance of skills and knowledge as explicitly measured instructional objectives.


3.    Assessment and student placement should involve:

a.   Assessment and reporting methods that are sufficiently criterion-referenced to promote useful decision-making based on actual levels of skills and knowledge rather than on categorical labels such as "emotionally disturbed" or "learning disabled", and

b.   Placement based on correspondence between measured entering skills and skills required as prerequisites for a given level in a hierarchically sequenced curriculum.



4.   Instructional methods should:

a.   Allow students to master instructional objectives at their own pace and to respond as rapidly and as frequently as they are able during at least some self-paced instructional session each day;

b.   Provide sufficient practice opportunities to enable students to master skills and knowledge at each step in the curriculum;

c.   Provide consequences designed to correct errors and/or to increase frequency of responding and that are adjusted to individual performance until they enable students to achieve desired outcomes;

d.   Be sensitive to and adjust in response to measures of individual learning and performance, including use of individualized instruction when group instruction fails to produce desired outcomes;

e.   Regularly employ the most advanced equipment to promote skill mastery via programs incorporating validated features described in this document; and

f.   Be delivered by teachers who receive performance-based training, administrative and supervisory support, and evaluation in the use of measurably effective, scientifically validated instructional procedures, programs, and materials.



5.   Measurement and summative evaluation should entail:

a.   Decision-making via objective curriculum-based measures of performance, and

b.   Reports of objectively measured individual achievement and progress rather than subjective ratings, norm-referenced comparisons, or letter grading.


6.   Responsibility for success should stipulate that:

a.   Financial and operational consequences for school personnel depend on objective measures of student achievement;

b.   Teachers, administrators, and the general educational program assume responsibility for student success, and change programs until students achieve their highest performance levels; and

c.   Students and parents should be allowed and encouraged to change schools or school programs until their educational needs are met.


This statement was abstracted from a report by the Association for Behavior Analysis Task Force on the Right to Effective Education [members: B. H. Barret (chair), R. Beck, C. Binder, D. A. Cook, S. Engelmann, R. D. Greer, S. J. Kyrklund, K. R. Johnson, M. Maloney, N. McCorkle, J. S. Vargas, and C. L. Watkins]. The full report of the Task Force was accepted by the ABA Executive Council and was published in The Behavior Analyst, 1991, Volume 14(1). This abbreviated statement was subsequently approved by majority vote of the general membership. It now constitutes official ABA policy.




Modifed by Eddie Soh