Welcome to Parsimony’s blog, where we help K-12 educators identify evidence based ways to maximize student outcomes.

This blog post is part of our What Works Clearinghouse review series. The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) is an initiative by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) which is the independent statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the United States Department of Education. WWC estimates the effectiveness of programs by evaluating the quality and quantity of evidence for that program.

This week’s blog post is about the evidence behind Lovaas Model of Applied Behavior Analysis’s impact on students. Here’s the short version:

Lovaas Model of Applied Behavior Analysis is a type of behavioral therapy that initially focuses on discrete trials: brief periods of one-on-one instruction, during which a teacher cues a behavior, prompts the appropriate response, and provides reinforcement to the child. Children in the program receive an average of 35–40 hours of intervention per week.

The evidence for Lovaas Model of Applied Behavior Analysis covers students in pre-kindergarten.

The outcomes examined include: cognition, communication language, functional abilities, and social-emotional development. Here’s what the evidence suggests about Lovaas Model of Applied Behavior Analysis’s impact on each outcome:

  • Cognition: Positive impact (an average student would be expected to improve by 27 percentile points)
  • Communication language: No detectable impact
  • Functional abilities: No detectable impact
  • Social-emotional development: No detectable impact

The studies looking into Lovaas Model of Applied Behavior Analysis had student samples that were in urban areas in Wisconsin and California, had students who were Asina, White, Black, and Hispanic, and were male and female.  

You can find the full report from the What Works Clearinghouse here:


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