Who's Outside the Box

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I'm sorry...I didn't understand you.

While the overall student population, kindergarten through twelfth grade, has only increased by 2.6%, the ELL (English Language Learners) population has increased by 60.8% (Rhodes, 2010). This increase is also evident in the special education population where culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students are believed to be overrepresented.

The problem here is that many of these students who are being placed in special education may not need it at all. What professionals are identifying as a disability may simply be difficulty with language acquisition. School psychologists should be knowledgeable about language acquisition and the impact that it has on a student's response to instruction and intervention (Rhodes, 2010).

The problem-solving model or Intervention & Referral Services (I&RS) is a problem solving method attempting to provide us with a method to meet the needs of ALL our students. It enables us to intervene when possible with evidence-based and documented interventions. Referral for special education evaluation is made only AFTER all interventions fail.

So where are we falling short in regards to CLD students?

•Is enough emphasis being placed on the gathering and analyzing information process for CLD students?
• How necessary is it for CLD cases to be handled by trained bilingual specialists?
•Is monitoring progress for CLD students too challenging due to a lack of evidence-based interventions?

From our understanding of the I&RS, it is the teacher's responsibility to monitor student's progress.

•Should practitioners determine how progress reporting is done, how it is measured, and how the results are managed?

We can see that it is important to have school psychologists working
in our districts who are knowledgeable on CLD students. According to
Rhodes (2010), professionals should be able to “examine academic and behavioral concerns in the context of language, culture, and disability”.

• Is it necessary to hire bilingual school psychologists?
•Should CSTs have at least one bilingual or trained specialist on the team?
•What other options do school districts have when it comes to providing interventions and assessing CLD students?

In most districts, school psychologists barely have enough time for consultations as it is.

•How effective would the implementation of a MSC (multicultural school consultation) framework be?

The increase in CLD students brings a need, now more than ever, for school psychologists competent in cultural and linguistic diversity. It is important for them to recognize all of the factors affecting CLD students and to be able to distinguish between a student with a disability, and a student with academic difficulties due to acculturation and language acquisition issues. CLD students are being placed into special education programs unnecessarily and methods need to be put into place in order to prevent this. The problem-solving model, when implemented thoroughly, has the potential to help us, as future practitioners, better serve the CLD student population.

This blog was created by Cyndi Raia and Kasandra Aristizabal.

What's the Problem????

The problem-solving strategy in school psychology is made up of 5 components including a 4-step problem-solving method and a problem-solving framework detailing 4 levels of intensity of intervention. Peacock et al. (2006) stress the interdependence of these two components. A basic understanding of these factors is not enough; it takes intense training and experience for school professionals to become proficient in implementing these strategies in their practice. In addition, there are specific assumptions that a proficient school psychologist needs to adopt in order to reap the full benefits of the problem-solving model. These assumptions are that the scientific method guides decision making; that direct, functional assessments provide the best information for decision making; that learning is an interaction between curriculum, instruction, and the environment; that all students can learn; and finally, that effective interventions are matched to unique student needs. The problem-solving model also requires intensive training of all school professionals in tool skills, data collection skills, and ongoing support for implementation. Finally, sound implementation of problem-solving strategies requires aligning all the key components to ensure that they work together as effectively as possible.

Given the current trend in school psychology of full inclusion, RTI, etc., which emphasize interventions at every level of instructional need (the entire school population), would the rigorous training necessary to implement problem-solving strategies be something you would support?

Do you think any one component of this model can stand on its own, or is the problem-solving strategy an all-or-nothing approach?

This Blog was created by Kyra Labisi and Amber Porzio.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mo’ Strategies, Mo’ Problems?????

The time a teacher spends in front of the classroom utilizing traditional instructional methods may set a more rigorous pace, with more time allotted for covering curriculum content in-depth. However, time spent in front of the classroom dos not necessarily mean that the students are mastering the material or learning more quickly.

Teachers have to be aware of mixed method approaches for maximizing student learning. Some ways to do this is through the implementation of Peer Mediated Interventions (PMI) and Self Management Interventions (SMI). As human beings, we need social interaction and can learn a lot from our environment. Likewise, we need to have the ability to self-evaluate and self-monitor. If these skills are not mastered early on in life, it could have detrimental implications for the child academically and in social settings.

With the increasing demands on educators due to No Child Left Behind Laws and other tasking duties due to testing requirements, what time is allotted for teachers to implement programs such as these that require a lot of time management and organization?

Some districts offer professional development and consultation services, however, what support do school districts have in place for teachers to utilize PMI and SMI strategies.

Teacher education programs are also criticized for not providing enough in-class experiences for students prior to graduation. With the amount of time and expertise required for implementing PMI and SMI strategies, how are novice teachers prepared to perform the role of a researcher?

Should teachers compensated for the extra work that goes into implementing such a rigorous curriculum?

With the amount of empirical research showing the effectiveness of PMIs and SMIs and with the added fact that it is one of the most cost effective ways of improving student learning, it seems like a rational decision to support the execution of such programs in school districts. The school psychologist can play a pivotal role in supporting such causes.

This Blog was created by Toyin Adekoje and Monique Garcia.

A Parent's Role

Parents and school psychologists should maintain a solid connection to optimize their child's education and socialization in the school. Before any interventions can take place, the two parties must be on somewhat of the same page when deciding the best course of action for the child.

-Are strong ties between the parents and school psychologist a necessity for achievement in the academic setting?

-What happens if at home the parents are not a strong influence in their child's life? What can the school psychologist do?

-What are some ways to strengthen the relationship between parents and school psychologists?

-How do you go about differentiating opinions between parents and school psychologists when deciding interventions and recommendations for a child?

-What are some ways that we as school psychologists can educate and simplify the procedures and information given to parents new to the child study team process so they can better understand?

In our experience, we have found that some parents' ideas for the direction their child should take in school seem to be in direct opposition to what the school psychologists know from years of experience and training. Other times, a parent really has no opinion on the matter and lets the school psychologist take control of the situation with little to no objections. Many times, the parents fall between these two extremes. When working with someone's child, school psychologists must be sensitive to parents' thoughts and feelings about their child because we may present a piece of information that they do not want to hear. How can we as school psychologists effectively work with parents to help their child exceed to the best of their capabilities?

This Blog was created by Joey Schweighardt and Julian Castellanos.