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.


50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

Event Details

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Symposium #307
CE Offered: BACB
Diversity submission Charting the Course for Racial Equity and Community Support: Equitable Literacy Instruction for Underserved Communities
Sunday, May 26, 2024
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Marriott Downtown, Level 5, Grand Ballroom Salon G
Area: EDC/CSS; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Courtney Smith (University of Nevada, Reno)
Discussant: Clay M. Starlin (Worcester State University)
CE Instructor: Mary Sawyer, Ph.D.
Abstract: For decades, ineffective teaching methods have impeded the educational achievement of American students, disproportionately affecting those from low-income and marginalized communities. The COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns only served to intensify and worsen this persistent issue. In our symposium, we will present three studies aimed at addressing the urgent literacy crisis in three elementary schools. The first two studies involve the pilot and initial follow-up of the Fit Lite® model. Conducted pre-pandemic, the preliminary study evaluated the efficacy of a low-cost literacy intervention with 14 third graders in a Title 1 school in rural South Carolina. Conducted post-pandemic lockdowns, the initial follow-up study applied Fit Lite® with six students in kindergarten through 2nd grade in a privately funded, tuition-free school serving children experiencing homelessness. The third study replicated and expanded upon the Fit Lite® model, involving 18 second-grade students in another rural Title-1 elementary school. In each study, students exhibited significant growth in early literacy and/or oral reading skills, surpassing two percentile ranks for every hour of instruction based on US national normative assessment data. Harnessing precision teaching, reinforced practice, and regular progress assessments, the Fit Lite® model presents a promising avenue to tackle educational disparities, with future implications and potential discussed.
Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): at risk, early literacy, elementary education, precision teaching
Target Audience: Basic
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Describe the educational achievement disparities that exist between socio-economic quartiles, differentiating between low-middle and middle-high statuses, and marginalized groups versus privileged counterparts. (2) Explain why effective literacy instruction is a critical service that must be provided equitably in a framework of educational achievement social justice. (3) Justify why behavior analysts are uniquely positioned to serve this calling
Diversity submission Hope for the At-Risk and Homeless: Two Preliminary Applications of a Behavioral Literacy Intervention
MARY SAWYER (University of West Georgia)
Abstract: Highly effective precision teaching-based literacy interventions like the Fit Learning ™ model have demonstrated their potential in the private sector. However, their extensive training requirements and associated costs have rendered them inaccessible to struggling schools with limited budgets. To address this challenge, the pilot study introduced Fit Lite ™ to cater to the needs of 14 third-grade students facing high-risk literacy difficulties. Implemented in an after-school program with minimal training, a group of four educators with no prior precision teaching experience produced an average improvement of 16 percentile points per student in comparison to national standardized progress-monitoring benchmarks over a span of approximately 12 weeks. Subsequently, a tuition-free, privately funded urban school for homeless children served as the setting for a study with six students at-risk for academic failure in kindergarten through second grade. Across approximately 14 weeks, participants achieved an average improvement of 25 percentile points compared to the national average on standardized progress-monitoring tools, with a significant portion (75%) of their instruction provided by newly trained interns. These findings provide preliminary and supplemental support of the Fit Lite™ model as a potential pathway in charting the course toward efficacy and equity in literacy instruction for underserved communities.
Diversity submission 

Validating Progress: Extending Preliminary Findings With Enhanced Precision in At-Risk Populations

KENDRA B. NEWSOME (Fit Learning), Donny Newsome (Fit Learning)

Educational equality is a critical component of social justice. Longstanding disparities in educational achievement and access to effective instruction have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fit Lite ® model is a brief, intensive literacy intervention that incorporates empirically validated techniques, including precision teaching, repeated reinforced practice, and frequent progress monitoring with standardized assessments of oral reading skills. This manuscript replicates and extends analyses of a behaviorally informed model of literacy instruction, Fit Lite ® , pioneered by Sawyer et al. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 14, 623–630, (2020), which demonstrated significant improvements in reading proficiency among a cohort of marginalized students. The current study includes a stronger demonstration of experimental control and involved 18 second-grade students in a rural Title-1 elementary school. The current findings verify the replicability of the model, with both iterations producing growth in oral reading skills greater than two percentile ranks per hour of instruction, based on US national normative assessment data. The potential for Fit Lite ® and similar intervention packages for addressing educational inequity are discussed.




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