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Thursday, March 18, 2010

NSPLB: No School Psychologist Left Behind

According to Ervin, Gimpel, and Merrell (2006, p 140), it has been “expected” that school psychologists perform refer-test-place tasks and do traditional diagnostic roles. Teachers and parents have seen the psychologist's primary function as one of assessing children to determine if they are in need of receiving special education services. A problem occurs between the actual and preferred roles of the school psychologist and also the current and recommended practices that they use. In addition, there is a huge increase in children who are in need of special education services due to awareness, teachers wanting a disruptive child out of their class, increased stress on testing due to NCLB, and many parents wanting their children to receive aid on testing.

With this influx of children who are in need and requesting tested and financial problems within the state do you think there is any time for a school psychologist to do anything but test the children that require testing?

How much can be expected of the school psychologist and where should our focus be?

This blog was created by Rebecca Guenther and Danielle Allegra.

Paradigm Shift

We believe that much of the existing struggle in moving forward and expanding our practice roles from “what is” in our current practice to “what should be” is a result of the difficulties we face as we try to step away from traditional roles that have now become institutionalized. In essence, what has traditionally or historically dominated our practice roles (i.e., traditional diagnostic and refer-test-place tasks) has become our expected. Others (teachers, administrators, parents, etc.) have come to know the school psychologist as one whose primary and most visible function has been the psychoeducational assessment and diagnosis of children to determine their eligibility for special education and/or related services (Fagan, 1995; Lentz & Shapiro, 1985).

However, eligibility is not determined by the school psychologist alone. The implementation of the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act) brought about the need for an IEP team to conjunctively evaluate whether a child meets the criteria to be placed in a special education program (Jacob & Hartshorne, 2007).
How can we as school psychologists work more effectively with other members of the IEP team in order to ensure that students’ needs are being met? As future school psychologists, how do you see your role in relation to other members of the IEP team?

For many of us preparing to enter the field or have been in the field are inundated with “what is” our role as a school psychologist. How do we shift roles to “what should be” our function as a school psychologist? According to Merrell et al., 2006), we believe it is essential that school psychologists: (1) critically examine current practice and recognize the need to move beyond our traditional roles; (2) gain a thorough understanding of the shortcomings of the traditional roles (understand why we need to try alternative approaches); (3) establish a clear vision of our role as a data-driven problem solver and implement this role in practice; and (4) carefully evaluate the utility of any alternative practice that we implement.

The current practice to use a problem-solving approach has been effective and gives the school psychologist a more proactive stance in the school. However, despite advocacy for this approach and advances in problem-solving methodologies, and evidenced-based practices, schools do not readily adopt evidenced-based practices (Abbott, Walton, Tapia, & Greenwood, 1999; Carnine 1997, 1999; Fornes, 2003a; Friedma, 2003, Hunter, 2003).

How do we make effective practices an accepted and necessary approach in the school?

Would this approach help us to identify issues earlier, and offer more
opportunities for early intervention?

This blog was created by Mark Newman and Anel DeJesus.

Before the Damge is Done...

IDEA does not really focus on preventive measures. Many schools are only interested in tertiery care yet these small percentage of students take up almost the whole time of a school psychologist's job.

Is prevention also a feasible tool in reducing the number of children at risk? What can we do as school psychologists, in terms of prevention strategies, to reduce the number of kids with intensive emotional or behavioral problems?

This blog was created by Alaafia Ajibade and Mike Drozdick.