Perkins School for the Blind Transition Center

Using Technology to Provide Evidenced-Based Outcome Data to Make Better Decisions

Schools, provider agencies and parents are concerned with looming cuts in special education services.  Schools, provider agencies and parents are looking to become more efficient and effective with their programs. The Devereux School of NY has meet the challenge by partnering with Operant Systems’ TeachMe Skills ,a mobile and web technology, that aids them in the planning, observing, recording, analyzing and modifying a student’s progress. The process began with John O’Keefe, the Executive Director of the Devereux School of NY asking some fundamental ‘How’ questions about their program. As a consummate leader he asked his staff, how can we;


  • Provide evidenced-based outcome data that demonstrates the effectiveness and the efficiencies of our educational and clinical services?
  • Increase productivity in administrative services?
  • Reduce the preparation time to collect all students’ data before an audit?
  • Obtain staff buy-in to effortlessly collect and manage educational and clinical data?
  • Reduce negative behaviors and increase students’ positive behaviors?
  • Track progress towards assessment goals?
  • Use existing technology as well as mobile technology?
  • Reduce audit risks?
  • Reduce staff turnover and increase staff satisfaction?
  • Gain parent support and accolades?

Devereux of New York, who serves special-needs children with autism, severe disabilities, and disorders has teamed up with Operant Systems mobile/web technology TeachMe Skills to serve more children more effectively than it could before. With more extensive, timely, and accurate clinical data, Devereux can now better analyze client progress and modify treatment plans.

Business Needs

There are too many children who will never realize their parents’ hopes for them, due to debilitating combinations of developmental delays, and psychiatric and behavioral disorders. Yet other children, similarly afflicted, will go on to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives.

But for Devereux New York, increasing challenges threaten another type of disablement. The number of children diagnosed with autism, for example, has doubled in a decade, creating unprecedented demand for limited services. Meanwhile, those services have become more expensive to provide, at a time when funding for them has become increasingly scarce.

That’s the context in which Devereux New York uses applied behavioral analysis to treat its clients, especially those with autism. The technique discourages specific negative behaviors, rewards specific positive ones, and continually refines the treatment program based on each child’s progress.

Applied behavioral analysis depends upon a massive, virtually continuous collection of behavioral data for clinicians to analyze. That data comes from staff who both work with the children and lug around binders and clipboards to record their behaviors. Behaviors could go unreported, or reported inaccurately, inconsistently, and tardily.


John O’Keefe, Executive Director of Devereux New York, discovered TeachMe Skills from Operant Systems. While electronic systems for the collection and analysis of behavioral data had long existed, O’Keefe had long found them insufficient. Traditional electronic solutions required staff to report behaviors through PC interfaces—which meant that much reporting had to wait hours or more, until staff had the opportunity to transcribe data from their binders. Analysis, too, was often confined to client-server systems that limited the flexibility with which clinicians could use them.

In contrast, TeachMe Skills brings together mobile technologies that address the shortcomings of traditional solutions. Devereux New York staff record behaviors as they happen, using any mobile devices that they carry with them. A set of various behaviors make it easy, even intuitive for staff to learn and use the TeachMe Skills App. Staff professionals—including speech and language teachers, physical and occupational therapists, the special-education staff—also use the app to document their provision of services.

Behavioral data is hosted “in the cloud” by Operant. Clinicians analyze the data using a TeachMe Skills mobile and web interfaces with graphs and charts that show the severity and frequency of monitored behaviors. They conduct these analyses from anywhere, at any time, either with an Internet connection.

Clinicians use their analyses to help decide whether each child’s treatment plan is proving effective, and to make changes to those plans—for example, changing behaviors to be monitored or skills to be learned. Those changes are immediately sent over the web to the Windows Phones of the relevant staff members.


John O’Keefe declares the solution a success for his staff, his school, and, most importantly, the children under their care by:


  • Recording timely data
  • Enabling staff to record data at the right time and the right place
  • Increasing a student’s positive behaviors while decreasing negative behaviors
  • Reducing risk of litigation by providing reliable data
  • Reducing administrative work for staff
  • Enabling clinicians, psychiatrists and teachers to make more effective decisions.
  • Providing a consistent, simple and powerful tool across disciplines

Increase Volume of Reliable Data – Because staff can now record data more quickly, easily, and promptly, they’re recording more of it. The volume of recorded behaviors immediately available for analysis has increased by 60 percent, fueling faster and better analyses, and better refinements in treatment plans.


Gains Consistent Reporting, Analysis from Across the Enterprise – The children in our school programs may be campus residents, day-program clients, ICF participants, or any combination. For the first time, Devereux New York assembles comprehensive reports and analyses that cover a child’s experience across these environments.


Successfully Treats “More Intense, More Problematic” Children – The school now successfully treats children with issues that are “more intense, more problematic,” than previously, according to O’Keefe. That success is based in part on the more in-depth analyses and closer tracking of client progress that clinicians gain with TeachMe. It’s also based on the greater time that staff spends with clients, time previously consumed in administrative chores.


Makes Better, Fuller Use of Remote Care Settings – Devereux New York opened four ICFs in the past year, a major expansion for the school, in part because it is better able to identify children from its residential and other programs who are likely to thrive in the small-scale, community-based setting, and because it can better monitor and assess their progress.


Monitors, Evaluates Staff More Effectively – Administrators use TeachMe to assess how thoroughly staff members track behaviors and implement the treatment plan for each child under their supervision—giving administrators a new and highly useful tool with which to evaluate staff performance.


The Devereux School and its staff are prepared for the challenges of delivering there services in a more cost effective and efficient manner using the proven track record of Operant Systems’ TeachMe Skills.


For more information about Operant Systems’ TeachMe Skills, visit, email, or call 305-771-3124.

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