Applied behavior track at Binghamton University garners national accreditation
The specialized track in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in the Department of Psychology at Binghamton University has become the first undergraduate program in the United States to be accredited by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc. (BACB).
The ABA track, which is designed to prepare students for careers in children's services or human services, is geared toward clinical psychology, speech, research, and public policy, with particular concentrations in developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, and measurement and evaluation. Proving to be a popular program at the University, enrollment in the ABA track has increased steadily since its launch in 2000.
According to Ray Romanczyk, director of the Institute for Child Development and the track program director, the need for accreditation comes in response to a surging interest and demand for individuals with formal education in ABA. "The demand for individuals formally trained in ABA has increased exponentially in the last decade,” said Romancyzk. “Currently there is a severe shortfall across the nation and students with formal training are being actively sought by graduate programs as well as by public and private educational and service organizations. With support from the faculty in the Department of Psychology, we were able to create a program that is very strong in both a research/empirical science philosophy as well as a rigorous human services/applied training program.”
The BACB is a nonprofit corporation formed as a result of credentialing needs identified by behavior analysts, agencies within several state governments, and consumers of behavior analysis services in many countries. Obtaining accreditation from the international ABA certification body was the final step in the program’s development but daunting because to date, accredited programs have been exclusively at the graduate and doctoral level.
BACB officially began its accreditation review activities at the University in 2002, after attending University student research presentations and program description presentations at various conferences. BACB then conducted interviews and requested extensive documentation of the ABA program curriculum.
The results were independently reviewed by members of the certification board and received unanimous endorsement. The program at Binghamton University was described as “the prototype for future submissions by undergraduate programs from other universities.”
The accreditation also allows Binghamton University students the opportunity to participate in a nationally recognized behavior analyst certification program.
Jennifer Gillis, a graduate of the ABA program, is one of the first Binghamton University students to complete the certification process. The process entailed the completion of ABA courses offered at the University, a year of supervised application of applied behavior analysis and successfully passing the certification exam.
“The exam was very challenging," said Gillis. "However, I was well prepared. My course of study at Binghamton University combined with my supervised research and practical experience at the Institute for Child Development provided me with a strong background in both the academic and practical applications of ABA."
Gillis added that many professional disciplines require licensure in order to provide specific services. Up to now, the field of behavior analysis did not have any form of licensure and both clients and professional behavior analysts have welcomed the certification process.
"Consumers are constantly seeking assurances that the services provided are of a certain quality," said Gillis. "In addition, consumers are becoming more aware of the certification and are beginning to seek out professionals with these credentials. This will not only create greater professional opportunities for certified behavior analysts but will serve to maintain the quality and integrity of the discipline. For me, certification is an essential aspect of being a behavior analyst."
For more information about the University’s ABA program, visit the website at http://188.8.131.52/icdext/teach/abatrack.html.