The Importance of Contextual Fit when Implementing Evidence-Based Interventions. How Should Contextual Fit Be Measured?


One reason contextual fit has received muted attention is that there is no accepted approach for how to measure it. Horner and colleagues (2003) provide one possible approach in their 16-item assessment of contextual fit (each item is rated on a 6-point Likert-like scale).2 Although this self-assessment has been used in studies assessing the contextual fit of behavior support plans in school, home, and community settings, and the resulting outcome score has been correlated with fidelity of implementation (e.g., Rodriguez, Loman, & Horner, 2009; Sandler et al., 2003; Smith, 2013), it has not been extended to studies or interventions outside of education. Currently, no contextual fit measure with documented psychometric properties can be used to evaluate the implementation of a broad range of evidence-based interventions across educational, mental health, juvenile justice, and community contexts.
To establish a useful measure of contextual fit, there must be agreement on the core elements of contextual fit. Then, these elements need to be included in a standard measurement protocol that can provide a “total contextual fit score” and scores about each element of contextual fit. Demonstrating the content validity of such a measure would then have to be combined with demonstrations of reliability and internal validity (Algozzine, Newton, Horner, Todd, & Algozzine, 2012).


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