October 24, 2016

Closing the Access Gap

From: Pent
Sent: Monday, October 24, 2016 1:02 PM
Subject: Closing the Access Gap

Hello PENT Cadre members, SELPA Directors, and supporters,

During previous PENT Forums we have discussed that one of the biggest issues in society is the access gap. The access gap reflects the discrepancy between what children need to function well academically, behaviorally, socially, and physically and what services/supports they actually receive. When children do not receive what they need, problems are likely to emerge and they are likely to experience a range of negative short- and long-term outcomes. To close the access gap in a given school, we need to improve the quality of Tier 1 learning environments for all students.

Some students, however, including those with disabilities, may have a need for additional support above and beyond Tier 1. Therefore, it is essential that we select and implement evidence-based practices at all levels of service delivery (e.g., Tier 1, 2, and 3). When implemented well, evidence-based practices can improve the quality of Tier 1 learning environments, and reinforce supports such as school-wide PBIS, social emotional learning curriculum, proactive classroom management practices, and intentional approaches to cultivating positive relationships. Simultaneously, school-based providers, such as special education teachers, school psychologists, counselors, social workers and speech-language pathologists, can deliver evidence-based practices to increase student access to high quality interventions that are delivered in addition to Tier 1. When there are committed efforts on both of these fronts, research is quite clear that the access gap begins to incrementally decrease and disappear.

As PENT members it is critical for us to be evidence-based consumers and advocates in order to close the access gap. Below is a list of various agencies that examine the scientific research base to identify evidence-based practices in assessment and intervention.

The access gap is a real problem that impacts numerous children and families throughout the state. Our efforts to close the access gap not only benefit the individual students we serve, but ultimately produce a ripple effect that contributes to a better society and living conditions for all.


Clayton R. Cook, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist
PENT Research Director