Dr. Barrett’s overarching research agenda examines how schools prioritize, implement, and evaluate programs and practices to improve academic, behavioral, and social-emotional outcomes for students. Within this process, Dr. Barrett has focused on a few specific topics: (1) economic evaluations of school-based programs and practices, (2) consultation, coaching, and collaboration as a means to support implementation, and (3) data-based decision making to qualify students for special education services and the relation between services and student outcomes. Additional information can be found on Google Scholar or ResearchGate.
Economic Evaluations of School-Based Programs and Practices
Schools are increasingly encouraged to not only consider what works, but also what works most efficiently to maximize resources. Economic evaluations are the umbrella term for methodologies used to examine the cost and efficiency of educational programs, practices, or policies. Fundamentally, economic evaluations are intended to inform the allocation of limited or scarce resources, and may also be used to prioritize programs or practices when an array of options are available. School psychologists support systems-level change by collaborating with administrators to use cost-effectiveness data to improve programming for students and, in turn, improve student outcomes. Dr. Barrett has a published several studies that examine the cost and cost-effectiveness of school-based programs and practices: (1) the costs of traditional teacher professional development and coaching, (2) the cost-effectiveness of classwide math intervention, (3) the costs of the innovation-decision process, (4) the cost-effectiveness of performance feedback during writing instruction, and (5) the cost-accuracy of three approaches to reading screening. More recently, Dr. Barrett has begun to examine the psycho-social factors that influence how administrators use cost data to make decisions, such as sunk cost bias.
Consultation, Coaching, and Collaboration
A substantive body of research has indicated that consultation, coaching, and collaboration are necessary for the successful implementation of evidence-based programs and practices in schools. In essence, schools need on-going and embedded support to help translate research into practice, educator-centered consultation to support skill development, and social support to persevere through the inevitable challenges of trying something new. Dr. Barrett has published a number of studies examining consultation, coaching, and collaboration in schools, which have examined: (1) the language used during consultation sessions (e.g., pronoun use, verb tense, and affect) and how word-choice is related to outcomes, (2) effective components of school psychology training to promote consultation skills during practice, (3) measurement issues when conducting consultation research, and (4) the relation between administrators’ social networks and feasibility and acceptability of evidence-based practices.
Data-Based Decision Making in Special Education
School psychologists play a critical role in the special education process from referral to implementation to outcomes. School psychologists spend a significant portion of their time in special education decision making, on average, and are an important member of a multidisciplinary team that determines whether students qualify for special education services. Research has described a number of challenges accurately and consistently determining which students should qualify and under which category of disability. The accuracy and consistency of this data-based decision making process has important implications for the quality and quantity of supports students receive and, in turn, their academic, behavioral, and social-emotional outcomes. Dr. Barrett has published a number of studies examining school psychologists’ use of various frameworks for qualifying students for special education services under the category of specific learning disability (SLD). Currently, Dr. Barrett has several on-going projects that further the scientific understanding of (1) how data are used to identify students with specific learning disabilities, (2) how data are used to inform service delivery options for students, and (3) how language within school psychological reports are related to SLD identification. Dr. Barrett has also begun examining how parents from diverse backgrounds navigate the special education process to develop trainings to help them support their children with disabilities.