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Department Spotlight

School teachers across the country are questioning how to meet tough new student learning and accountability standards. Professor of Education Betty Williams may have found an answer in the medical profession of all places.

Williams, who has helped to build Whitworth's special-education program into the envy of many other schools since arriving in 1997, is becoming a leading proponent of a new evidence-based practice approach to education that she has adapted from fields such as medicine, psychology and social work. The new approach involves researching the best method for teaching a student then gathering evidence to evaluate whether the method is working and making adjustments as necessary. Though straightforward, teachers aren't necessarily being given all the tools they need to use evidence-based practice.

"We need to train teachers in how to find evidence in research literature and how to take data when working with children to assess whether they're being effective or not," says Williams, who was invited to present her work on evidence-based practice at the annual conference of the International Association of Behavior Analysis in May 2003. "We're really helping them have a scientific attitude and approach to their teaching."

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