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Thursday, March 18, 2010

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.

30 comments:

Mark said...

Prevention is feasible it is just trying to find the right approach. In chapter 7 of the Merrell, Gimpel text. Some have argued for a public health model approach in delivery of services. They outline 3 levels: 1) students not experiencing learning/social difficulties 2) students determined to be at risk and 3) students currently experiencing significant learning/beh. difficulties. Where I work there are a number of students that have failed the 7th grade 3 times! What are we doing for these kids if we didn't identify it before? Prevention can be done but unfortunately many schools are overwhelmed with the population and try to pass the problem along.

Rebeccca said...

I think putting RTI into practive is a good start. If kids are idntified early then they may never progress that far and they can be helped early on. Furthermore, if RTI is put into place even student who do not get classified will likely benefit because different teaching styles will be implimented.

The entire idea of RTI is prevention and early intervention and if entire school districts get involved it will take a lot of pressure off the school pscyh

Ana said...

I have always believed that early intervention is crucial for any child that displays challenging behavior, especially during the early childhood years. I think that one of the biggest problems is that no one really knows about early intervention and the fact that it can be provided to children as young as 2 years old, maybe younger! We as school psychologists must become more aware of the services that are available for all children and we must pass this information along!

Prattima Kaulessar said...

It is true that early intervention, diagnosis, and effective implementation of educational plans are essential when dealing with children with disabilities. However, many early intervention programs are being disbanded because of shortages in state and federal funding. In my opinion, in the long run, these shortcuts in education are going to do a real disservice to the youth of America because they are not going to receive the assistance they need when they require it for everyone knows that becoming aware of an issue in a timely fashion yields the best results in terms of treatment, long-term prognosis, and implications for future endeavors.

Ana said...

Prattima, you brought up a good point about shortages in state and federal funding! This is the reality today and I have a feeling the job of a school psychologists is about to get tougher and more demanding!

Alaafia said...

RTI is really a solid starting point in discovering kids early before their problems exacerbate. But how can we ensure that as school psychologists, the program is effective, and that the students benefit from it?

Alaafia said...

Mark made a point of some kids failing the 7th grade 3 times. How can we intervene early to prevent such a situation from repeating itself?

Mike said...

How does some of the legislation under IDEA - Part B limit our ability as school psychologists to intervene when there is a risk of emotional or behavioral problems? In out text, the author sighted Slenkovich (1988a) who suggested a 6 month minimum requirement for observable behavior before classification can occur. In what way does this impact the idea of early prevention? What other laws and practices are in place that makes early prevention and intervention difficult?

Mark said...

The 6months time before classification almost seems like it creates more of a problem for the student and the staff involved and unfortunately the system fails to incorporate effective strategies during those 6 months. Hopefully with RTI and other problem-solving approaches we can ameliorate and address the students needs with every staff member involved.

Mike said...

In our text, Merrell et al. suggest that a shift towards a prevention model requires a step back to examine the big picture. This universal intervention stresses the importance to include ALL of the students, even those not currently experiencing learning or socio-emotional behavior problems. What hurdles do we face as school psychologists that make it difficult to implement this type of model? How can we take the first steps towards introducing such a strategy into our schools?

Anel said...

I see the 6 month requirement as an incredible disservice to the student exhibiting the behavior. The longer it takes to address the issue, the harder in becomes to create an intervention that can help the student. RTI ties right into this.

As school psychologists, I think the best way to see if these interventions are working, is with continued involvement with the teachers and parents. This is where our role tends to get a little expansive, but it is a way for us to ensure that what we're doing is actually producing positive results.

Rebeccca said...

Anel I think you are correct. In order to establish an early intervention and have it work there needs to be a contiuous open dialogue between the teachers and the school psych. To much time is waisted because the teacher and the school psychologist are not on the same page or do not share information in a timely enough fashion.

Mike said...

Anel and Jessica have touched on the relationship between teachers and school psychologists, and its importance with regard to early prevention. A study by Shapiro and Heick (2004) revealed that only one-third of school psychologists use interviews with the parents and teachers of children with emotional and behavioral problems. Furthermore, 20% of school psychologists reported not using interviews at all. How can the use of interviews and the early involvement of both parents and teachers lead to changes that can improve upon the current model?

Danielle Muhammad said...

I agree with Rebecca that putting RTI into practice is a good start. Additionally, we must follow through on BIPS and FBA's. Also we have to work with teachers and assist them when it comes implementing strategies to reduce inappropriate behaviors.

I am on both sides of the table. I have the ability to think like a teacher as well as a school psychologist. The teacher in me understands how hard it is to constantly provide the positive reinforcement needed to reduce inappropriate behavior. However, the school psychologist in me understands that the plan must be implemented in order for success.

As school psychologist we can help create balance for teachers by assisting them. Just as the children need reinforcement and support, so does the teacher.

Alaafia said...

Danielle made a point when she said the teachers too need reinforcement too! Since they are the ones that primarily dealing with these kids in the classroom, if we as school psychologists can make them see the bigger picture that giving that child maybe five extra minutes a day may alleviate much more profound problems down the road, they too will want to do their best. How can we motivate, encourage, motivate teachers to see the bigger picture?

Prattima Kaulessar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Prattima Kaulessar said...

Like Danielle, I can also understand the educator and school psychologist point of view. In reference to Alaafia’s question: teachers, in general, are overwhelmed, overworked, and unsupported. It may be difficult for an educator to see the “bigger picture” with all the cuts within education. Many teachers are just barely able to keep their heads above water; so to speak. Classes are larger, children display more challenges both academically and behaviorally, and many parents are simply uninvolved in their children’s lives. All of these components make for a difficult educational experience for teacher and student alike. In closing, so much is asked of teachers, rightfully so, but there needs to be more support from administration in order to produce an environment conducive to implementing strategies for differentiated instruction within the classroom.

Danielle Allegra said...

Alaafia i think we can help teachers see the "big picture" by having workshops or things of that nature that can educate teachers about early intervention services and get them to think like a school psychologist as well. A person, like Danielle, who knows about both roles, the teacher and the psychologist should be able to inform others and try to get people to see both sides.

Alaafia said...

In reference to what Prattima stated, it's really really hard with teachers having to deal with larger classrooms, and teachers are just overwhelmed with what they are already dealing with. But we also need the parents to be on board too, although many do not really show any interest in helping out. Why is this so? Is it a growing trend or it's just that they are too occupied with other issues in their lives?

Prattima Kaulessar said...

That is the million dollar question, Alaafia but, unfortunately, I do not have an answer. From what I can gather, based upon firsthand experience, it seems many parents, in the area where I am employed, are young, uneducated, and unable to help their children flourish in their environment. These children come to school unfed, ill, and unprepared on a daily basis. As school psychologists, and school personnel in general, we need to understand this trend because it negatively affects a child’s educational performance. In my opinion, many students would not be in special education placements if they had different parents and home environments.

This is a major issue in urban school districts where there is an increased number of special education referrals each year.

Mike said...

Our text lists 6 tasks that are essential for successful classroom management. These include (1) organizing a productive classroom environment; (2) establishing rules and procedures; (3) managing transitions; (4) managing independent seatwork; (5) communicating competently with students; and (6) teaching prosocial behavior. When teachers are proactive and devote time to structuring the learning environment early in the year, students tend to be more engaged in tasks throughout the entire school year. As we make ourselves available to teachers earlier, hopefully they will reciprocate the communication and come to us with the problems they are facing when they are still in the prevention stage. A proactive and preventive model would benefit the students, teachers, and school psychologists.

Mark said...

If we can use our role in consultation for students and teachers perhaps we can also extend ourselves to the community and address student failure as a whole. Parents are an essential part of the education system so how do incorporate them and urge them to make changes? Addressing issues in lower SES communities and understanding the context of each school can enable change.

Rebeccca said...

I agree with Prattima and Alaafia, that parents need to be more involved and also in the right ways. Some parents in our district only call to complain and make demands and never let you know when something is going well. Furthermore, they want more and more supports for their child yet they don't come out to vote in order to pass budgets in order create funds that will allow such supports to be implimented. There needs to be more parent involvment in many aspect of education and it is important to note this is not only a special ed problem.

AmandaBish said...

After going through everyone's responses in the blog, one particular thing came to mind for me in terms of prevention. Did you know that in certain countries, like England, where health care is free, that the doctors there are encouraged and rewarded when their patients are healthier? The main objective there is PREVENTION. The doctors get extra bonuses and rewards when they get their patients to lose weight, lower their cholesterol and high blood pressure, etc and in the end, it costs less to insure and take care of the population. This is a perfect metaphor for what needs to happen educationally here in the states. I know some of you mentioned the budget cuts affecting the implementation of programs like RTI, but like we discussed in class last week, in the long run it is going to actually save money.

I, personally, have seen early intervention in preschool disabled classrooms work miracles. I had two students who were diagnosed with Autism before the age of 3. They started out in the preschool autistic class, then at age 4 1/2 to 5 they were moved to the preschool disabled integrated classroom, and now they are both in regular ed kindergarten.

I think the early intervention programs combined with RTI is the best strategy to reduce the number of kids with emotional, behavioral, and academic problems.

Alarys said...

Parent involvement is crucial to the growth of our students. Unfortunately, this is not the case. There has to be motivation especially in our urban schools to bring parents out to speak for their children and vote on important issues.

Mike said...

Based on many of your comments, it is clear that much of the failure of our current system lies in the discord between the school and home setting. On this note, the text mentions the importance of "related services" as attached to the IDEA Part-B. These account for transportation, developmental, corrective, and other supportive services including speech-language pathology, audiology services, interpreting services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, early identification and assessment of disabilities in children, counseling services, orientation and mobility services, and medical services for diagnostic or evaluation purposes. How prevalent are these services in our school systems? To what extent would early prevention help in the goal to get these related services to those who need them?

Danielle Muhammad said...

Prevention should be the main focus. However, many school districts lack consistency. Each year students, teachers, administrators, and CST members are introduced to new preventative measures. Once the new measures are introduced the older methods are forgotten about. We must make sure that the methods we select are differentiated to fit the CHILD. In many cases we will be told what to do and not asked what is best.

Anel said...

When trying to increase parent and teacher involvement, the approach is key. We must be able to adapt to others, and see what the best delivery would be, so that we are able to convey the importance of what we are bringing to the table. For example, a newer teacher may be more open to certain things than a more experienced teacher, who has used his/her methods a lot longer. So we will need to try different approaches with each, to try and get them on board.

The same applies to parents. We really need to build a rapport with those we are trying to work with, so that we can reach them.

Stefanie said...

I agree RTI will make a huge difference. I have kids being sent to me in the BD program all the time that rarely show behaviors. The reason for this is that I have set boundries in the classroom as well as rules. My kids know that when I say something or do something I mean it. Reg. Ed teachers need to start implementing things in their classrooms and take every measure before just throwing them out and trying to get them diagnosed. And I also agree that there should be workshops. We cannot blame teachers if they don't know what to do. I have been teaching for 5 years I have attended 20+ workshops....1 was on behavior modification. That is just not enough. I did a research project last year on the teachers in my school almost all of them said they attended 1 or less workshop on behavior modifications. Most of the teachers in my school have been teaching for 10+ years.

Rebeccca said...

The only thing I would say is that we should try not to attack reg ed teachers so much because it can be very difficult to instruct kids with such a wide range. To teach to the brightest, the middle, and those lagging behind all at the same time when you have 25+ people in the class is a really difficult task.

I have also seen special ed teachers send out kids who have behavior problems just as readily as reg ed teachers. It seems to be more on an individual basis. Therefore, all need to be more informed or even updated on how to deal with behavior problems and things of that nature.