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October 2021 Newsletter

Welcome to the October Newsletter from the Wing Institute.  This will be the final Newsletter from the Wing Institute as it is currently established.  Randy Keyworth and Jack States, the two Executive Directors, are retiring after very long and successful careers in education.  Their retirement is well-deserved and we wish them all the best. 

The Wing Institute will continue operating in partnership with Morningside Academy in Seattle, Washington.  For over 40 years, Dr. Kent Johnson and his team have developed and provided exemplary educational practices to students and educators, and have formed dynamic partnerships with a myriad of school districts and agencies across the United States and Canada.  They also conduct research, and develop best practice curriculum and instructional practices.  For more information about Morningside Academy please visit their website,  

On a personal note, I (Ronnie Detrich) have worked with Randy and Jack for well over three decades, and that work has been some of the most satisfying work of my career.  It has been an absolute pleasure to have these gentlemen as my colleagues.  I want to wish them the very best in their well-deserved retirement.  

I could not be happier to continue their legacy in the new partnership with Morningside Academy.  As a Senior Fellow, I will be working in the role of editor for the Wing Institute at Morningside Newsletter, and look forward to bringing useful information to the website (

In this edition of the newsletter you will find continuing discussion of usable innovations, four research article commentaries, one original paper from Kendra Guinness on Professional Judgment, and news about the upcoming Wing Institute graduate student research grant.

Welcome from Morningside

Welcome to the Wing Institute at Morningside Academy! We're honored and excited to continue the mission of the Wing Institute. The work that Jack States and Randy Keyworth have done is incredible, and we're extremely grateful for the opportunity to build upon all that they've accomplished. We're also very excited that Ronnie Detrich will continue as editor of the Wing Institute's newsletter. 

For those new to us, Morningside has two programs. The first is Morningside Academy, a nonprofit elementary and middle school founded in 1980 for children and youth who have not previously reached their potential. Many of our students have learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, or ADD/ADHD; all have average to well above average intelligence. Morningside is not a school for children with significant emotional problems, behavioral problems, or developmental delays. Morningside helps our students catch up and get ahead. 

The second program is Morningside Teachers’ Academy, a teacher training and in-classroom coaching service. The primary purpose is to disseminate the Morningside Model of Generative Instruction, an amalgam of evidence-based best practices in the areas of instruction, practice, and real-world application of curriculum objectives. Since 1991, Morningside Teachers' Academy has worked with  over 140 schools and agencies across North America and Europe. 

We also disseminate educational best-practices through our annual Morningside Summer Institute. Every summer, dozens of teachers, behavior analysts, psychologists, and other education professionals join us for an intensive study of MMGI. Attendees spend afternoons learning about educational best practices, then put those into action during morning practicum in our summer school classrooms. 

To better help produce and disseminate evidence-based curriculum, our small team of instructional designers publish instructional and fluency-based programs in reading, writing, and math; as well as instructional design and behavioral education titles, through Morningside Press.

Thank you for your interest in evidence-based best practices in education. We look forward to hearing from you and continuing on the important tradition of the Wing Institute. 


Onward and upward,

Dr. Kent Johnson
Founder and Executive Director

Dr. Joanne Robbins
Principal and Associate Director

Andrew Kieta
Associate Director

Julian Gire
Vice-Principal and School Psychologist




Wing Institute Commentary

Focus on Implementation: Usable Innovations
One of the important discussions in evidence-based practice is whether an empirically-supported intervention must be implemented as developed or can it be adapted by the implementer to fit their specific circumstances (Harn, 2013)?  There is some evidence that interventions are more likely to be adopted if the implementers perceive that they have the freedom to adapt the intervention.  To date, there is no clear guidance about what constitutes acceptable adaptations and still preserve the interventions effectiveness.  The common advice is to not change the core features of the intervention; however, research rarely identifies the core components.  As a result, the educator is operating without guidance about what can be adapted.  So how should we proceed?  It seems that adapting interventions is inevitable so it is important to have an approach to assure that the students benefit from the intervention.  One approach is to make adaptations and collect data to determine if the students are making progress with the adapted intervention.  If so, then the adapted intervention is not a problem.  If the student is not making progress with the adapted intervention, then it is necessary to revisit the adaptation and either return to the original form of the intervention or make adaptations that are different than the previous ones.  This will be an iterative process until the student is making progress. 
An important consideration when evaluating student progress is to assure that either the original version or the adapted version of the intervention is being implemented as planned.  If not, it is necessary to increase the quality of implementation before adapting the intervention.  If an intervention is not or cannot be implemented with high quality then the intervention is not usable.
Harn, B., Parisi, D., & Stoolmiller, M. (2013). Balancing fidelity with flexibility and fit: What do we really know about fidelity of implementation in schools? Exceptional Children, 79(2), 181-193.


Wing Institute Original Work

Professional Judgement

This month we have one original paper from the Wing Institute by Kendra Guinness on Professional Judgement (  Educators must use their professional judgment many times per day.  Every time they make an instructional or a behavior management decision they must make a professional judgement.  Thoughtful professional judgement is critical for the educator.  It simply is not possible to manualize everything that a teacher must deal with in the course of a day.  For those concerned with evidence-based practice, professional judgement is one of the cornerstones of evidence-based practice.  This recognizes the important role that it plays in decision making.  In this overview, Ms. Guinness considers the variables that can influence decision making, the role experience plays in improving the quality of decisions, and what can be done to teach high quality decision making.  At each decision point, there are many variables that are influencing the decision that is made including biases and emotional state.  In this review, strategies are suggested to safeguard against allowing biases and emotional factors to be the sole determinants of a decision.
Guinness, K., and Detrich, R. (2021). Overview of Professional Judgment. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.


Can We Close the Research to Practice Gap?

One of the persistent problems in education is the gap between what we know about effective educational practices and the practices that are frequently used in public schools.  Many of these practices do not have empirical support.  The challenge for all educators is how do we close the gap?  The flow of research to practice is often perceived as being a one way flow from researchers that develop effective interventions and disseminate them to practitioners who are expected to adopt them (Ringeisen, Henderson, & Hoagwood, 2003).  Ringeisen et al., argue that this is not likely to result in widespread adoption of effective practices.  McLaughlin and colleagues (1997) have made the argument that having an array of effective practices is not sufficient for closing the research to practice gap.  In many instances, the practices developed by researchers are not a good contextual fit for the school settings because training and experience requirements for implementers are unreasonable within the school setting, the resources necessary for implementation are not present, and the time demands to implement are unrealistic. Read More

Can We Make Coaching More Cost-Effective?

One of the great challenges in education is training all staff to implement interventions.  There is considerable reliance on para-professionals, especially in special education, to support students.  Many of the para-professionals have minimal training in educational practices.  In many cases, the training that does occur is the traditional didactic model and there is little evidence that it produces the outcomes it is supposed to yield.  An alternative model of training that holds great promise is coaching; however, there are limitations to it because it often relies on outside coaches which makes it cost-prohibited for many districts.  A recent report by Sallese and Vannest (2021) offers an alternative that may make coaching more cost-effective. Read More

What are Effective Behavior Management Strategies for Disruptive Behavior?

Disruptive behavior is one of the biggest challenges facing classroom teachers today.  Many of the students with the most disruptive behavior are classified as having emotional and behavioral disorders or at risk of developing them.  These students take up a disproportionate amount of classroom time, reducing time spent of instruction.  Generally, these students have not been responsive to class-wide behavior management approaches and require more individualized and intensive intervention.  This raises the question what are the effective practices that will benefit the student?   Read More

What Do Teachers Think about Praise?

Praise is generally recognized as an empirically-supported approach to improving student behavior (Simonsen, Fairbanks, Briesch, Myers, & Sugai, 2008); however, in spite of the research evidence, praise is often under-utilized in classrooms (Floress & Jenkins, 2015; Gable, Hendrickson, Shores, & Young, 1983; Sutherland, Wehby, & Copeland, 2000) highlighting the research to practice gap.  Why don’t teachers implement praise more often and more consistently?  Shernoff and colleagues (2020) attempted to answer this question.  In this study, they recruited 41 teachers who identified praise as a professional development goal to participate in a coaching program with the goal of increasing praise. Read More

Wing Institute Student Research Grants

The Wing Institute will continue to offer grants to graduate students for their research projects.  The call for proposals will be posted in early spring with a deadline in mid-May, 2022.  Notification of successful applications will be made in mid-June, 2022.  Proposals that seek to study various aspects of implementation will be given special consideration.  The rationale is that we have many effective practices that are likely to improve outcomes for students if they were actually adopted and implemented by educators.  The challenge is finding ways to increase the adoption and actual implementation.  One framework that may guide researchers is the Active Implementation Frameworks (see citation below).  There are many other implementation frameworks that can guide both research and practice.  If interested in more information about the grants or implementation science please feel contact me at:
Fixsen, D. L., & Blase, K. A. (2020). Active implementation frameworks. In Handbook on Implementation Science. Edward Elgar Publishing.



Floress, M. T., & Jenkins, L. N. (2015). A preliminary investigation of kindergarten teachers’ use of praise in general education classrooms. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 59(4), 253–262. doi:10.1177/0198742917709472.
Gable, R. A., Hendrickson, J. M., Shores, R. E., & Young, C. C. (1983). Teacher-handicapped child classroom interactions. Teacher Education and Special Education: The Journal of the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, 6(2), 88–95. doi:10.1177/019874299301800405.
Simonsen, B., Fairbanks, S., Briesch, A., Myers, D., & Sugai, G.(2008). Evidence-based practices in classroom management: Considerations for research to practice. Education and Treatment of Children, 3, 351–380. doi:10.1353/etc.0.0007.
Sutherland, K. S., Wehby, J. H., & Copeland, S. R. (2000). Effect of varying rates of behavior-specific praise on the ontask behavior of students with EBD. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 8(1), 2–8. doi:10.1177/ 106342660000800101.

McLaughlin, M. J., & Leone, P. E., Meisel, S., & Henderson, K. (1997). Strengthen school and community capacity. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 5(1), 15-24.
Ringeisen, H., Henderson, K., & Hoagwood, K. (2003). Context matters: Schools and the “research to practice gap” in children's mental health. School Psychology Review, 32(2), 153-168. Douglas, S. N., Chapin, S. E., & Nolan, J. F. (2016). Special education teachers’ experiences supporting and supervising paraeducators: Implications for special and general education settings. Teacher Education and Special Education, 39(1), 60–74.
Mason, R. A., Gunersel, A. B., Irvin, D. W., Wills, H. P., Gregori,E., An, Z. G., & Ingram, P. B. (2021). From the frontlines: Perceptions of paraprofessionals’ roles and responsibilities. Teacher Education and Special Education, 44(2), 97–116.
Simonsen, B., Fairbanks, S., Briesch, A., Myers, D., & Sugai, G. (2008). Evidence-base
d practices in classroom management: Considerations for research to practice. Education and treatment of children, 351-380.

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