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Peer-Reviewed Research

This Web page contains information about peer-reviewed research in educating students with behavioral concerns. It was developed by the Behavioral Intervention Stakeholder Work Group pursuant to AB 86, Statutes of 2013.

Assembly Bill 86 (AB 86), the Education Omnibus Trailer Bill, Chapter 48, Statutes of 2013, repealed regulations and added state statute that address positive behavioral intervention plans. In accordance with AB 110, California’s 2013–2014 budget bill, the California Department of Education (CDE) is required to provide oversight of, and technical assistance and monitoring to, local educational agencies regarding changes to the requirements related to the identification and provision of behavioral intervention services included in AB 86.

As a part of this effort, AB 110 also required the CDE to convene a broad and varied stakeholder group to discuss several topics, including the identification and recommendation of practices based on “peer-reviewed research.” According to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), “ ‘Peer-reviewed research’ generally refers to research that is reviewed by qualified and independent reviewers to ensure that the quality of the information meets the standards of the field before the research is published. However, there is no single definition of ‘peer reviewed research’ because the review process varies depending on the type of information to be reviewed.”1

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that the individualized education program (IEP) must contain a statement of special education and related services and supplementary aids and services, based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable.2 The IDEA’s reference to peer-reviewed research applies to the positive behavioral interventions and supports that the IEP team considers for a student whose behavior impedes his learning or that of others.3

An abundance of information about recommended research-based practices is available at the OSEP Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports External link opens in new window or tab.. The Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) was established by the Office of Special Education Programs, US Department of Education, to give schools capacity-building information and technical assistance for identifying, adapting, and sustaining effective school-wide disciplinary practices. The site provides research-based information about PBIS in schools at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels; within communities; and in families. It also publishes issue briefs, outlines of research on behavior-related topics, and coach and trainer resources.

Information about identified and recommended research-based practices are also available at the Positive Environments, Network of Trainers (PENT) Web site External link opens in new window or tab.. This Web site is maintained by the California Department of Education, Diagnostic Center, Los Angeles. It is a California Positive Behavior Initiative designed to provide information and resources for educators striving to achieve high educational outcomes through the use of proactive positive strategies. A word search on the PENT Web site will lead visitors to information about research-based practices for writing effective behavioral intervention plans, links to other Web sites on research-based interventions, access to journal articles and training materials, and references to topic-related publications.

The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) External link opens in new window or tab. is maintained by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Science. The clearinghouse provides information specific to student behavior External link opens in new window or tab.. It offers reviews of studies on the impact of student behavior interventions for the purpose of examining the evidence of the effectiveness of programs, curricula, and practices.

The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, prepared a practice guide on Reducing Behavior Problems in the Elementary School Classroom under contract with the What Works Clearinghouse. The guide provides five recommended practices to help elementary school educators and school and district administrators develop and implement effective prevention and intervention strategies that promote positive student behavior. In addition, The What Works Clearinghouse offers documentation of a Webinar External link opens in new window or tab. held in 2010 to discuss this practice guide.

The Promising Practices Network Web site External link opens in new window or tab. focuses on programs and practices that research indicates are effective in improving outcomes for children, youths, and families. The section on “Programs that Work” uses criteria to sort information by “Proven and Promising Programs” and “Other Reviewed Programs.” Programs can also be sorted and viewed by outcome area, topic, and evidence level.

Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development is a national violence prevention initiative to identify programs that are effective in reducing adolescent violent crime, aggression, delinquency, and substance abuse.

The Campbell Collaboration External link opens in new window or tab. offers a registry of systematic reviews of evidence on the effects of interventions in the social, behavioral, and educational arenas.

Social Programs That Work External link opens in new window or tab. is a Web site maintained by the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy. The site offers a series of papers developed by the coalition on social programs that are backed by rigorous evidence of effectiveness.

Another source of information about research-based practices is a publication of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Titled Evidence-Based and Promising Practices: Interventions for Disruptive Behavior Disorders. As stated in the document’s front matter, the purpose of the guide is to “help stakeholders identify and select evidence-based practices that might best fit the needs and preferences of communities, providers, practitioners, families, and youth.”4 For each of the interventions, the guide contains descriptions of the interventions, a discussion of the research base and outcomes, information on implementation and dissemination, a section on resources and links, and references.

SAMSHA also maintains the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP). This Web site offers a searchable online database of more than 320 interventions for substance abuse and mental health issues. According to the site, “All interventions in the registry have met NREPP’s minimum requirements for review and have been independently assessed and rated for Quality of Research and Readiness for Dissemination.”5

For working with students with autism spectrum disorders, the publication Evidence-Based Practices for Children, Youth, and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF; 2 MB) was developed by the Autism Evidence-Based Practice Review Group under the auspices of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Published in 2014, this 114-page document provides in-depth analysis of research-based practices, the practices’ outcomes, and the ages of the students for whom the interventions are effective.

The CAPTAIN (California Autism Professional Training and Information Network) Web site External link opens in new window or tab. is maintained by the CDE’s Diagnostic Center, Northern California. CAPTAIN is a multi-agency network developed to support the understanding and use of evidence-based practices for individuals affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) across California. The CAPTAIN Web site serves as a clearinghouse of resources, research materials, and information about evidence-based practices for educating students with an ASD. Links to the CAPTAIN Leadership Team, Cadre Members, and Partners, as well as training resources from the annual CAPTAIN Summits can also be found on this site.

The Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, also maintains a Web site for the State Implementation and Scaling Up of Evidence-based Practices Center (the SISEP Center) External link opens in new window or tab.. The purpose of the SISEP Center is to help educators build capacity to implement research-based practices. The center provides technical assistance nationwide and is funded by the federal Office of Special Education Programs.

The Council for Exceptional Children Web site External link opens in new window or tab. offers numerous articles and information about Webinars that focus on research-based practices for addressing students’ behavior through a simple word search on “behavior.”

Additional information about behavior-related research-based practices is also available at the Web site for the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities and at the Web site for the Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children External link opens in new window or tab..

Resources for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports for Children Up to Five Years of Age

Other Web sites that provide research-based information and tools related to the behavior of children from birth to five are as follows:

The Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children Web site External link opens in new window or tab. is supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. It provides access to articles, brochures, handouts, issue briefs, archived presentations, a glossary, information about individualized interventions, and links to many other resources. The mission of the center is to provide decision makers, caregivers, and service providers with “an enhanced awareness of, understanding of, and ability to use evidence-based practices to improve the social-emotional outcomes for young children with, or at risk for, delays or disabilities.”6

The Child Care and Early Education Research Connections Web site External link opens in new window or tab. is maintained by a partnership between the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, and the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the Institute for Social Research, the University of Michigan. Research Connections is supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and it “promotes high quality research in child care and early education and the use of that research in policy making.”7

The OSEP Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports offers articles, studies, form templates, training tools, checklists, and presentations on early childhood PBIS External link opens in new window or tab. under the “Community” heading.

If you have any questions regarding this matter, please contact Allison Smith, Education Programs Consultant, Special Education Division, by telephone at 916-319-0377 or by e-mail at asmith@cde.ca.gov.


Footnotes

  • 1. Federal Register, Volume 71, p. 46664, 2006.
  • 2. United States Code, Title 20, Section 1414(d)(1)(A)(i)(IV); Code of Federal Regulations, Title 34, Section 300.320(a)(4).
  • 3. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 34, Sections 300.324(a)(2); Federal Register, Volume 71, p. 46683, 2006.
  • 4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). 2014. Evidence-Based and Promising Practices: Interventions for Disruptive Behavior Disorders (accessed April 16, 2014).
  • 5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). 2014. National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices. (accessed April 16, 2014).
  • 6. Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention External link opens in new window or tab.. 2011. About TACSEI. (accessed May 30, 2014).
  • 7. The Regents of the University of Michigan. 2013. Child Care and Early Education Research Connections: About Us External link opens in new window or tab.. (accessed May 30, 2014).
Questions: Allison Smith | asmith@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0377 
Last Reviewed: Friday, March 13, 2020
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