Research in special education is often just a computer search away for teachers. But boiling that information down into concrete action can be a challenge.
The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, a private organization in Washington that is financed by the U.S. Department of Education, has stepped into the breach with its Web-based Research to Practice database.
The 6-week-old Web site, research.nichcy.org, has links to studies vetted by center staff members. In addition to the research, the site includes several links to practical resources.
For example, one research project that the site links to describes various interventions that have been used to encourage students with disabilities to stay in school. The site describes the study, discusses the types of interventions that were used, and provides several links to other organizations working on dropout prevention.
The goal is to have a wealth of easily digested material at educators’ fingertips, said Stephen D. Luke, the research director for the dissemination center, commonly known by the acronym NICHCY—a holdover from when it was known as the National Information Center for Handicapped Children and Youth.
Educators are already familiar with the Education Department’s push towards research-based interventions for students with disabilities, Mr. Luke said. “What they’re not familiar with is where to find it, and what to do with it once they find it,” he said.
In the few weeks that the Web site has been up, he’s received a number of positive comments, Mr. Luke said.
“I find it to be a useful tool in examining best practice models around relevant school issues,” said Robert McCarthy, the principal of the 1,300-student South Kingstown High School in South Kingstown, R.I.
The goal is to continue adding links to research studies at the rate of 10 to 20 a month. Subjects already on the research site include attention deficit, learning disabilities, and reading.
“We’re trying to put this in language that can be consumable by a large audience,” Mr. Luke said.
A version of this article appeared in the May 03, 2006 edition of Education Week