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.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Symposium #281
CE Offered: BACB
ABA is FUNctional! How to Run an ABA Classroom and Keep Everyone Smiling
Sunday, May 28, 2017
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Convention Center 405
Area: EDC/AUT; Domain: Translational
Chair: Anthony Castrogiovanni (Pyramid Educational Consultants)
Discussant: Andy Bondy (Pyramid Educational Consultants, Inc.)
CE Instructor: Catherine Horton, M.S.

Classrooms worldwide report difficulties with implementing systematic, manageable approaches to creating effective educational environments. The Pyramid Approach to Education, (Bondy, 2011; Bondy & Sulzer-Azaroff, 2002) provides a model for incorporating Applied Behavior Analysis functionally to achieve meaningful outcomes for learners. Elements of the Pyramid include: functional activities, reinforcement systems, functional communication, functional analysis of contextually inappropriate behaviors, generalization, lesson formats, teaching strategies, error correction and data collection/analysis. A key distinction from other approaches involving the elements of applied behavior analysis is that classroom teachers and other staff are empowered to teach within the parameters of good science and education, but it is not a prescriptive one-size-fits all approach. Teaching staff is involved in the decision making process and lesson development for all students with an emphasis on the individual needs of each student while maintaining both group and individual learning. This symposium will provide an overview of implementation and results from several different perspectives. A program administrator will provide input regarding cost/benefit analyses of consultation related to the Pyramid Approach. BCBAs will provide details related to Pyramid implementation in two public school settings. An additional data based paper will be presented wherein the Approach is rolled out in a sequential format with attendant results.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): Autism, Bondy, PECS, Pyramid Approach
The Cost/Benefit Analysis of Pyramid Consultation in a Public School Setting
(Service Delivery)
VIVIAN J. BUSH (Sussex Consortium)
Abstract: The Sussex Consortium (a public school serving students with special needs) grew from 20 students in the 1970s to 280 currently. With growth, the challenge was to keep staff trained to the highest degree and to ensure students received the best education. Research showed didactic training alone increased the results by a minimal margin. All training needed to be followed by on the job instruction and guidance; this time intensive part that was critical yet difficult to achieve with increasing demands of administrators. Although we identified the needs, the hardship was providing significant, sustainable change. Pyramid offered intensive training to 6 classrooms at a time, while building leaders within those classrooms to sustain the training gains and to begin to become consultants to the program themselves. The student growth after only one year was significant. Interventions resulted in behavioral definitions modified to include less intense, less interfering descriptors and an increased number of students transitioned to less restrictive settings. An unanticipated side effect was an increase in staff morale and collaboration. Staff presented what they learned to colleagues and continue to teach one another through allowing others to visit their classrooms and sharing of information during collaborative sessions.

Pyramid Certified Classrooms – An Overview of the Pyramid Approach and Certification Model

(Service Delivery)
CATHERINE HORTON (Pyramid Educational Consultants)

The Pyramid Approach to Education is an effective model of teaching that establishes meaningful educational environments for all learners. This model is based upon broad spectrum applied behavior analysis and includes two types of learning elements: structural and instructional. The structural elements form the base of the Pyramid, creating an environment within which to teach. The base elements include: Functional Activities, Reinforcement Systems, Functional Communication and Identification and Replacement of Contextually Inappropriate Behaviors (CIBS). The instructional elements form the top of the Pyramid and include information relevant to the creation of effective lessons. The top elements include: Generalization, Lesson Formats, Teaching/Prompting Strategies and Error Correction. All elements involve data-based decision making. Following an overview of this model, an intensive certification process, known as Pyramid Certified Classrooms, will be explored. This model includes training and consultation regarding implementation of all elements. Data will be provided regarding changes that were completed within a single school year, as evidenced by practical outcomes, as well as increases in ratings on the nearly 100 items included on the Pyramid Checklist.

Pyramid Implementation Within a Public School Setting
(Applied Research)
JOELLE LUGO (Freehold Twp Schools)
Abstract: Public schools are recognizing the importance of behavioral science as a foundation for the special education services they provide. Steeped in years of tradition and patterns of behavior, the change process for public schools can be fraught with resistance and skepticism. The behavior analyst is often overwhelmed and the question of “Where do I begin?” seems impossible to answer. The Pyramid Approach is a tool for analysts that find themselves in this position. This presenter will share how the adoption and implementation of the Pyramid Model facilitated the unification of services within a pre-k to 8th grade public school district. The features of the Pyramid and how they were utilized to facilitate staff training will be discussed, as well as system changes that have resulted. The presenter will examine the decrease in rate of out of district placements, the increase in BACB certified staff and the integration of related services under the umbrella of applied behavior analysis. Application of the Pyramid to in-class resource models and general education classes will be addressed. Additional benefits such as an increase in time spent in general education settings and increase in number of students accessing district curriculum will be shared.

Consulting in One School District Utilizing the Pyramid Approach to Education Framework: Highlights and Struggles

(Service Delivery)
ANNE OVERCASH (Pyramid Educational Consultants, Inc.)

A year-long consultation in a school district presents many possibilities and challenges. Utilizing behavioral principles (Pyramid Approach to Education) provides a framework for consultants to introduce and teach the concepts. Each classroom presents a different set of individuals working together to provide instruction to all learners. Varying degrees of success were observed in regards to the improvement in implementation of various applied behavior analytic strategies from class to class. One week of training in all areas of the Pyramid Approach to Education was offered during the summer of 2014. Most classrooms received monthly classroom visits with opportunities for observation and immediate feedback as well as written notes. In addition, the school provided monthly Professional Learning Communities where a variety of topics were covered (Pyramid Approach specific topics included). Data from ratings on the Pyramid Checklist from a variety of classrooms will be described. Of note, some classrooms clearly progressed more quickly than others. Possible reasons why this occurred and directions for future improvements will be discussed.




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