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Monday, March 30, 2009

Breaking away from Traditional Assessments...

As school psychologists, one of our primary roles will be assessing children to determine eligibility for special education services. The question of what constitutes an appropriate evaluation is a controversial topic that school psychologists often disagree on. Traditional assessment focused on standardized test scores of intellectual ability to determine eligibility of services. Standardized norm-referenced measures are a necessary and important part of assessment, but do scores alone give you enough information to define a problem behavior, implement an intervention, and see if there is a positive outcome? Alternative assessment methods such as FBA’s have become more popular in creating successful interventions. As future school psychologists’ shouldn’t our goal be to develop recommendations that will have positive outcomes for the child? How do we break away from traditional practices and incorporate new methods of assessment that will guide us in the evaluation process?

This blog was created by Melissa Picariello

Understanding Section 504

Section 504 of the rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects students with handicaps from discrimination, requires schools to take reasonable action to prevent harassment and requires schools to make accommodations to ensure that students with handicaps have equal opportunity to programs and activities. Section 504’s definition of handicapped is any mental, physical or emotional impairment that limits one or more life activity, such as learning. This article provides more information on ADHD and Section 504:


Children with ADHD who do not need special education are eligible for special accommodations under 504. Schools must provide students with handicaps equal opportunity in the most integrated setting appropriate and those students must remain in the regular educational environment.

How do you feel this might affect other children in the class? Also, some parents might object to this because they feel that the children who need special accommodations might be receiving more attention than their children. How can the teacher balance everything while still giving each student what he or she needs?

This blog was created by Susan Bartolozzi and Laura Martino

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why has Testing and Assessment Gotten Such a Bad Rep?

The common job description of a school psychologist looks something like this: "Administer diagnostic assessments and evaluate student performance. Develop, implement and monitor goals and objectives of the school and program. Work with parents in the development of each student."

As most of us know, not only will we be testing, assessing and working with parents and teachers to help school children, but at times we will be called on for crisis interventions, therapeutic counseling, etc. There is no question that working as a school psychologist can be both rewarding and challenging. But our jobs shouldn't just stop there.

When discussing the primary role and function of a school psychologist, all agree that testing and assessment has A LOT to do with it. And if done correctly, assessment can help the client benefit from the many special services he/she may need. So if the tests are designed to get the child the help they need, why does the help only occur if assessment is done correctly? Why are so many kids, failed by misdiagnosis? In my opinion, assessment is a collaborative process and can only be done correctly if there is parent, teacher, and of course student cooperation. We can't assess on testing alone. In addition to using tests in the decision making process, we need to examine:

Day-to-Day Observation



Performance tasks

Exhibitions and Demonstrations



Teacher-created tests


Self- and peer-evaluations

By using all of this in addition to having the involvement of parents and teachers, we as school psychologists can truly make an accurate assessment. One question remains however, is this too much to ask from the teacher and parent? And is going "beyond the test" asking too much of the school psychologist?

This blog was created by Tahina Reyes.

IDEA: Falling Short of New Ideas

Within the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, it is required that students with special needs be placed within least restrictive environments (mainstreaming) to ensure that both disabled and non-disabled children receive an appropriate and non-biased education. This principle applies only when children of special needs are capable of functioning and benefiting from these environments.

Let's suppose Billy is a very low functioning SLD student whose IEP states that he should be receiving in-class support within an inclusion based setting. Do you feel that this setting would be beneficial for Billy? Or would a resource setting be more appropriate? Being a low-functioning SLD student, what would be some of the issues or problems he would face within these settings? As the school psychologist, what would you do if Billy's parents refused to comply with the IEP? How would you as the psychologist ensure the necessity for special education?

This Blog was created by Tamara Filangieri and Angelica Cunha

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Extended School Year Anyone????

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), some students in special education are eligible for extended school services (ESY). The ESY must be provided only if the child’s IEP team determines, on an individual basis, that the services are necessary for the child.

If Johnny’s IEP team determines that he qualifies for ESY services does he automatically have to go? Do his parent’s opinions count? What if his mother does not agree with her child receiving ESY services? Can the school district compel Johnny to participate in ESY services?

Do you think that special education students benefit from ESY services? If the child receives ESY services one summer but does not seem to be benefiting from it, should he/she be granted services the next summer?

This blog was created by Tjasa Korda and Roxane Nassirpour.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Addressing the Professional Minority Gap

There are disproportionately few minority and bilingual school psychologists available to serve both regular and special education students.

Ethnicity of School Psychologists

Source: 2004-05 NASP membership survey (69% response rate)

Ethnicity - Percent %
White/Caucasian 92.55%
Hispanic/Latino 2.99%
Black/African American 1.94%
Asian-American/Pacific Islander 0.94%
American Indian/Alaskan Native 0.82%

The United States is hastily becoming more and more culturally diverse. As is seen in the above chart there is an overwhelming amount of Caucasian school psychologists. In urban districts, such as Jersey City, there is a very diverse population in schools. What challenges do we as future psychologists face in dealing with children from other cultures? How can we become more culturally sensitive to their needs and the way that we assess them? How can the field of school psychology make a proactive effort to recruit different ethnicities into this field?

"The greatest distance between people is not space.

The greatest distance between people is culture."

Jamake Highwater (Native American choreographer, author and lecturer, 1932-2001)
This Blog was created by Desiree Antas and Melissa Picariello.