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.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

Previous Page


Invited Paper Session #352
CE Offered: BACB
Literacy as Social Justice: The Importance of Reading in the Fight for Educational Equity
Monday, May 29, 2023
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center Four Seasons Ballroom 1
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Rocio Rosales (University of Massachusetts Lowell)
CE Instructor: Denise Ross, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: DENISE ROSS (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee)

The purpose of this presentation is to discuss how verbal behavior research on reading can positively impact children’s academic outcomes. Low reading proficiency significantly affects children, their families, and their communities. For instance, third grade children who cannot read proficiently are four times less likely to graduate from high school than those who can. When students do not graduate from high school, they are more likely to have lower wages and poorer health outcomes than high school graduates. In fact, over time, low literacy costs society billions of dollars in lost earnings, employability, and related social outcomes. For these reasons, ensuring that all children have access to effective reading instruction is critical. In this presentation, I will describe the importance of proficient literacy for historically marginalized children such as children with disabilities and economically disadvantaged children. I will then describe how research on reading in verbal behavior analysis has identified effective instructional practices that can impact children’s reading outcomes. This presentation will conclude with recommendations for addressing educational inequities by advocating for literacy as a form of social justice.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

The target audience for this presentation is behavior analysts and educators interested in PK-12 education and in reading instruction. The target audience also includes behavior analysts and educators who are interested in issues of social justice.

Learning Objectives: In this session, attendees will learn about: (1) The long-term impact of childhood reading proficiency; (2) Verbal behavior research on reading and its implications for reading instruction; (3) The importance of advocating for proficient literacy as a form of social justice
DENISE ROSS (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee)
Denise Ross-Page, PhD., BCBA-D, is Chair of the University of Wisconsin-System’s Institute for Urban Education, a program housed at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is a certified special education teacher and a former elementary school principal. Her research applies behavior analysis to the development of language and literacy interventions for children with and without disabilities. Ross-Page has established or led approximately 20 professional development partnerships with school districts in Wisconsin, New York, Chicago, South Florida, and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ross-Page earned master’s and doctoral degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University with a major in special education and a specialization in applied behavior analysis. She received her bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Spelman College.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh