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Why frequency matters

Page history last edited by Regina Claypool-Frey 14 years, 11 months ago


So why does measurement of frequency matter??


"...Perhaps the most telling data set, one that I and others have shared hundreds of times since we gathered them in [Bea] Barrett’s lab (Barrett, 1979; Binder, 2003), shows ranges of correct responses per minute on simple pre-academic component tasks that we were teaching adolescents then labeled “mentally retarded.” We were also working with young elementary school students and a group of professional adults. In 11 of the 16 skills, all of the professional adults completed more correct per minute than all of the regular children and all of our handicapped students. These data reflect what you’d notice if you spent a few minutes with these people.


Click on the graphic* to see an enlarged view.


But if we only use percentage correct, as in most classrooms and training programs, we’d think these three groups performed exactly the same, because they were all 100% correct!


Click on the graphic* to see an enlarged view.



We have to let this sink in. In my view, our educational and training programs fail to produce competence in large part because the measurement systems they use cannot discriminate between competence and incompetence. All of us have been trapped in the percentage correct box since childhood, unconsciously thinking that 100% is the best we can do. Rate of response shows us an entirely different picture that allows us to make better decisions..."

Carl V. Binder


*Graphics from

Presentation by Carl Binder, Ph.D. at ABA International 2007 National Conference, San Diego, May 2007.




Binder, C.V. (2005).

Learning, teaching, and an evolutionary imperative: Accepting the 2004 Fred S. Keller Behavioral Education Award.

The American Psychological Association Division 25 Recorder, 38 (1), 10-12.



Additional References


Barrett, B. H. (1979). Communitization and the measured message of normal behavior.

In R. York and E. Edgar (Eds). Teaching the severely handicapped: Vol 4. (pp. 301-318).

Columbus, OH: Special Press.


Binder, C.V. (2003). Doesn’t everybody need fluency?

Performance Improvement, 42, 14-20.



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