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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How Much Progress is Enough?





“The quality of a school as a learning community can be measured by how effectively it addresses the needs of struggling students” (Wright, 2005).

School psychologists must be cognizant of what is in the child’s best interest and responsive in order to communicate interventions that will benefit or impact a child’s schooling. Every child requires different modalities and is entitled to the right to learn and the right to an education. One can keep educating parents to be informed on how to advocate for their children; however, a collaborative approach is needed to determine the most appropriate level of success. As school psychologists, regardless of the diagnosis, each child should be given an appropriate intervention; no child should be singled out based on his or her disability.

One of the greatest challenges of a school psychologist is time management and how time is delineated among individual cases. Unfortunately, it may not be feasible for school psychologists to be directly involved in every aspect of the process. How, then, is time prioritized for each child and is the Response to Intervention (RTI) approach fair?

The role of a school psychologist is to ensure that students with disabilities receive accommodations and modifications in the general education classroom. We have an obligation to assess and use our clinical expertise in order to make recommendations. Based on one of the ethical guidelines, “School psychologists make decisions based on multiple theoretical perspectives and translate current scientific information to develop effective behavioral, affective, or adaptive goals for all students” (NASP Professional Conduct Manual, 2000, p. 44). However, how are we supposed to be effectively monitoring the progress of each student equally? What is the process and is it enough? What does the law require us to do as professionals versus what can we do?

While the law requires us to follow a procedure, we can only do so much as professionals to make certain each child receives an adequate plan of intervention. Realistically, a school psychologist must manage their time effectively to ensure that students will not be overlooked. The multi-tiered model should be implemented into classroom instruction in order to successfully facilitate and monitor each child’s progress. But in the end, time is of the essence.


This Blog was created by Brittany Silverman and Katie Wiseman


References:

National association of school psychologists professional conduct manual. (2000, July 15). Retrieved from http://www.nasponline.org/standards/professionalcond.pdf

Wright, J. (2005). Five interventions that work. NAESP [National Association of Elementary School Principals] Leadership Compass, 2(4) pp. 1,6.

21 comments:

Nikki Schreihofer said...

As stated in the blog, it is the role of a school psychologist to ensure that all children who need services and accommodations receive them. RTI is a method that is able to assess all students at one time, and then identify those who are struggling academically. The following link breaks down the three tiers of RTI: http://cecblog.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83452098b69e2010536e993f4970b-pi.

This model of intervention seems to allow school psychologists to devote ample amounts of time to the students who are in Tier 3. It seems as though the only time consuming factor in RTI is the initial assessment. Is this actually true? Does Tier 3 really allow the school psychologist to divide their time equally among each student?

Mellard (2009) states the the National Research Center on Learning Disabilities (NRCLD) recommends that students who fall into the second and third tiers need to have 9-12 weeks of the designated intervention that should be repeated 3-4 times a week. The length of time for each intervention will vary with the identification of different needs. Does this really allow the school psychologist to give each child the attention they need and deserve? If 10 students in Tier 3 need a one-on-one intervention (such as a counseling session), 3 times a week for 60 minutes each day, will the school psychologist truly be able to focus on each child's individual needs?

The assessment data is used to determine if the child need is to remain at the level they're in, or move (up or down). The school psychologist needs to review all of this data, after each assessment, and make a decision. This can certainly be a time consuming process.

What can we do, as school psychologists, to ensure that the implementation of RTI is both time efficient and effective?



Mellard, D. F. (January 24, 2009). Levels of Interventions [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://cecblog.typepad.com/rti/2009/01/levels-of-interventions.html

Cassie Porter said...

No matter how effective the RTI model is in a school system there will always be at least one child who is overlooked. Nothing is ever 100% effective. Although the RTI model can be effective if implemented correctly, school psychologists do not have the time to help each student who has a disability. There just isn’t enough time in the day.

Although we can’t help every child, the best way we can monitor the progress of every student is to work together with other faculty in the school and with parents. We need to rely on the teachers in the classrooms to give us feedback on students as well as the parents of the students. Because we can only do so much by law, we need to be able to give parents the tools to help us with their children. In doing so, parents need to take a more active role in their child’s education to make sure they are obtaining the skills they need to succeed in and out of the classroom.

A child is only in the classroom for a total of 40 hours a week, that is the amount of time that we as educators have to educate and provide services for these students. The rest of the time is spent outside the classroom with peers and family. If a child walks outside the classroom and doesn’t pick up a book or isn’t dealt with properly at home then what we do in the school is lost. It is not only the responsibility of the school psychologist and the school faculty to help the child succeed but the majority of the help needs to come from the parents.

This is possible for many parents who have a child with a disability but for others it isn’t, for some parents, trying to understand that their child has a disability is very hard. Depending on their culture or environment some parents may be in denial, thinking that their child is just lazy and needs to try harder. Other parents may think it’s just a phase that their child is going through and that they will overcome it. Others may think their child is just trying to get attention. In these cases it is the school psychologists job to help the parents come to grips and do what they can to help their child. Once a parent can process the information and accept it then we can implement programs specifically for that child and help them receive the accommodations and services they need to be successful.

Many times a child receives help in school but when they go home the parents do not know how to handle their children. In a school system there are teachers and “shadows” who can be with a child who may be autistic or have behavior problems. Those teachers and other staff who are with the child, are able to guide the child and redirect them to focus on the task at hand. But once they go home some parents are in denial that their child has a problem, and instead of learning the tools to help their child succeed, they let him/her do what they want because it’s just “too much” for the parent to handle. As educators we need to not only help the students, but we also need to provide parents with the tools to help their children. In doing this, does it take up more of our time? Yes, of course it does. But isn’t it our responsibility to help that child all that we can? Or does helping a child to this extent go past our responsibilities as a school psychologist? Where do we draw the line in helping a child succeed?

Krista Johnson said...

As a school psychologist, it is not always easy to budget your time. It is not uncommon for a situation to arise that needs immediate attention and/or action. These situations take precedent over all the other cases you are working on. I believe the key factor to being successful in these situations is being able to prioritize your time. Ideally, school psychologists would be able to give equal amount of attention to every single case regardless of the severity. However, some cases may require more attention depending on the teachers, parents, students or schools needs.

As stated in the blog and previous posts, it is our job to advocate for the student. The fundamental principles behind RTI lays the groundwork for this to be implemented. As Nikki mentioned in her post, the length of intervention varies based on needs. It would be impossible to attend to each and every student. For this reason, a process must be in place to address the students who need the highest level of intervention. I think it is important to note that under IDEA 2004, parents have the right to request a formal evaluation at anytime during the RTI process to ensure their child is not being deprived of special education needs (http://www.rtinetwork.org/learn/what/whatisrti). In addition, regulations are in place for the IEP process which requires at minimum an annual evaluation and restructuring depending on the effectiveness of the plan. Since school psychologists operate under the scientist-practioner model trial and error are an important part of the improvement process.

Also, I think Cassie makes a valid point regarding the extent of a school psychologist's responsibility to assist a student. In my opinion, I think this sense of responsibility varies based on individual beliefs. Some professionals may feel their ability to effectively help a student may be limited based on parent request, district regulations or state laws.

Anonymous said...

Of course, it's our responsibility to help him/her succeed to the best of their ability, but with time being limited, we can make a referral for the parent to be educated through other specialists (i.e. social worker, psychologist, parent-training group, etc.) Parents should be part of the process, which in turn, will help educate them as well as their child. We also believe the faculty should play an imperative role, even if it requires some form of modification to their lesson plans or daily schedule. To what extent should the faculty and parent's be involved?

What is the role of the school psychologist in getting the parent's involved? If time management is an issue, will educating the parent's take time away from their responsibilities with the children?

From: Nikki Schreihofer, Brittany Silverman, Katie Wiseman & Dominika Ziolkowska

Anonymous said...

Krista: Which case should receive more attention? Who's needs are more important? Our biggest question is how do you determine the cases that require more time and how are they prioritized?

From: Nikki Schreihofer, Brittany Silverman, Katie Wiseman & Dominika Ziolkowska

Jovanna Ossa said...

I believe we can all agree that the RTI model is effective in identifying and assisting children with difficulties in the classroom setting. Although in theory it is very well laid out, in practice sometimes it could just not be enough.

As Cassie said it is highly unlikely to be able to assist 100 % of students because of the time involved in each individual case. If you have started your school practicum, I am sure you have witnessed the intensity in the work schedule, demands and unplanned occurrences that consumes time of the School Psychologist.

The question remains: what is the best approach, if any, to meeting all students needs?

The law issues a certain amount of time for assessment, evaluation and plans to be implemented. Should the more serious cases be taken into consideration first? Should the IRS committee play a larger role in the screening of these children?

I also believe parents should be given more participation, not only in the meetings where they are informed of their child's IEP but also in workshops or resources where they can gain more knowledge and skills to make sure that the progress being made at school is reinforced at home.

Dominika Ziolkowska said...

Jovanna,

I do agree that time is significant factor in the implementation of RTI. I believe that, in order to alleviate the work load placed on school psychologists, the school system must undertake a more collaborative approach in order to make RTI implementation a successful one. Appropriate leadership, support, and resources must be available. The school system should have a clear understanding of the RTI method, as well as the new demands and the skills necessary associated with an effective implementation. Hoover (2008) introduces five new skill sets that educators should possess:

Role 1: Data-driven decision maker.
Role 2: Implement evidence-based interventions.
Role 3: Differentiate instruction. Multitiered instruction may require the implementation of differentiated or modified instruction to meet learning needs.
Role 4: Implement socioemotional and behavioral supports.
Role 5: Collaborator. Collaboration is a necessary and sometimes required practice to meet IDEA mandates associated with services in special education.

Roles such as differentiate instruction are essential for educators to understand. School psychologists’ input and modified lesson plans should be welcomed by educators. The role of a collaborator is as important as it has ever been. It is imperative for all school professionals to work together effectively in a tiered system. RTI may be a time consuming approach, but I believe that, when executed correctly with an “all hands on deck” approach, could really be successful.

Hoover, J. J., & Patton, J. R. (2008). The role of special educators in a multitiered instructional system. Intervention in School and Clinic, 43(4), 195–202.

Amanda Elliott said...

It is a disheartening fact that school psychologist do not have enough time to spend helping each child in their case load. And with the increasing amount of children being referred to the CST, the allotted time given to each child will only shrink. With the change in the role of the school psychologist becoming more educational and less clinical oriented, we are becoming the primary people responsible for ensuring each student is receiving the best education they can by law. These issues are a reality and in my opnion can only be fixed if more school psychologist are hired in each school district, lessening the number of students in each CST member's case load. And we all know in today's economy, the likelihood of that happening is very slim. Two things, RTI (when implemented accurately) and collaboration can ensure that each child is receiving the best education possible, but will not increase the amount of time school psychologist can spend one-on-one with each student.
RTI is a great method to help students at all levels receive a better education. It has an effect on more children efficiently than does the school psychologist working with each student individually. It benefits all children in the class and quickly identifies the students who will need additional assistance. It allows time to monitor students at tier 1 and provide more help and monitor those at tier 2 and 3 of the RTI model. I noticed a common issue for others with RTI is that is gives the impression of prioritizing student needs, which seems a little unethical for a profession that is suppose to cater to the needs of all students who a classified with a disability. But RTI creates more inclusion in the classroom for students at tier 1, which is proven to provide a better education for students. It accurately places students at tier 2 and 3 in classrooms that provides better services to them.
Above all, collaboration from all stakeholders in childhood and adolescent education in vital to ensuring that all students are receiving the best education they can. Everyone in the school system should be held accountable for student progress. Giving school psychologist more responsibility puts more pressure on them to produce positive student progress. Teachers need to understand the new demographic of student they will be teaching, a demographic with an increasing number of children with disabilities. Administration, especially the principal must give special education priority, a department in the school often viewed as its own entity. It is still apart of the school. Principals too need to advocate for students in special education, getting all falculty to understand the importance of special education. Most importantly parents must understand that education for children with disabilities doesn't end when the school day ends. It most be continued at home.
The important question isn't necessarily why school psychologist aren't given enough time to help and monitor their students. It's why is the school psychologist gaining responsibilities that other stakeholders in education should equally be given? With a limited number of school psychologist hired in a district, increasing number of student referrals, and increase in responsibilities, how is it possible for school psychologist to perform their job according to the laws and guidelines for special education?

TBM said...

I think we can all agree that RTI if used appropriately can be really beneficial to the student at hand. Also, as Peacock, Ervin, Daly & Merrell (2009) state that the job of the school psychologist is slowly changing where they have an opportunity to decision making consultants for schools and school systems. I agree with the posts above that time management can be tricky in these situations because there is a lot that is laid on a school psychologist’s shoulders. Even though, that seems to be the case, I do think that it is our job to ensure that each student gets their needs met. Cassie – you brought up some really good points that as someone who only works with the student in a school, it could be a challenge to help them. I think this is why it is so important to educate the parents before hand on the child’s needs and how best the school can help them with it. As the blog leaders explain, it would be an issue determining which child needs the most attention. Sure, based on the model students in tier 3 would be considered most entitled to a school psychologist’s time, as people have stated. But I do believe that it would be a problem in determining who needs the most help? I feel that it is not like a corporate job where you can finish your work depending on some deadline. This would make a different as it would affect the students life. So I guess my question would be that how do you prioritize?
That being said, I think the school as a whole including teachers, child study team members, principal and the rest of the administration have to play a role in the students success. I have heard of ‘Student Study Team’ (SST) that are basically elaborate parent-teacher conferences with support staff and the student. The main goal of the team is to problem solve and help the struggling student. I think this would serve a good purpose and answers part of the question raised by some of the classmates which is ‘to what extent should faculty and parents be involved’. It is very crucial that all the people in the child’s life are involved and aware. This helps in understanding the different aspects of the student’s disability if any and collaboratively works for the students success. It could also be beneficial to hire (maybe the PTA can raise money) reading coaches, intervention specialists or volunteers that can help assist the school psychologists in their duties.
-- Tanu Mehta

preeti patel said...


Amanda, I could not agree with you more. It would be great if school psychologists had more time to spend with each child on their caseload. There are so many areas that a school psychologist has to take into consideration to ensure that each child is receiving the appropriate education tailored to their needs. As Amanda stated, the amount of children that are referred to the CST is increasing, but it doe not seem as if there is an increase in school psychologists to go along with the children. How are school psychologist supposed to guarantee the most appropriate education under these circumstances?
Nikki your breakdown of how much time a school psychologist should realistically be spending with each child is overwhelming and impossible. And to answer your question, no it does not allow the school psychologist to devote the necessary time required with each child. What really should and can be done? It is then up to the whole multidisciplinary team to work collaboratively with each other to achieve this. Consultation and communication is key among the team, which includes parents, teachers, school psychologists, case managers, and any other specialist that is involved in the child’s case.
Yes we can implement great plans and models, such as RTI, to make sure every child is accounted for but all of it is meaningless if everyone involved with the child is not willing to do their part. According to the Professional Conduct Manual for School Psychology, school psychologists AND other team members must work together in order to come up with goals, share information on ways to reach the goals, and monitor the progress. Team members can consult with one another to share their expertise. The consultations can be used to share information on the child, provide tips for teachers on what they can do in the classroom, give parents advice on what they can do at home, etc.
After teachers and parents receive the tools they need, they should implement them in either the classroom or home and come back to the team with feedback, as Cassie stated. Feedback helps to monitor what is working and what isn’t working.
As they say, “there is no “I” in team!” In this case, it is impractical to think school psychologists can assess, diagnosis, come up with interventions, monitor, etc. all on their own. They need the help of their team members to assist them. And not to kill it with the sayings but “two heads are better than one!” Along with aiding in time management, having multiple team members taking on an active role in a child’s case brings more knowledge and expertise to the table. This only means a better educational plan for the child!

In terms of what case should receive more attention and which needs are more important, it should go on a case-to-case basis. Time shouldn’t be based on a specific disability, but should be determined as the case progresses. Some students may require less time than others. If a child is on the right track and improving from their specific educational plan in place, there is no need to spend an excessive time behind that child. If another child is not benefiting from their services and needs to have their intervention plan tweaked, that child may require more attention and time from the multidisciplinary team. In my opinion, it is no ones fault and it’s not being unfair. Some children require more time than others, but it certainly does not mean that one child is less important than other.

Anonymous said...

Amanda: You bring up a good point that RTI along with collaboration is important to implement with each child. You are absolutely right in that everyone in the school system should be held accountable for a student’s progress; everyone should also be well educated in order to be informed. Someone once said all children learn about the world when they learn about each other. We believe this to be true and there is no single solution; the process involves a collaborative approach. Although teachers need to understand the “new demographic of the student,” many teachers will view proposed change with uncertainty or doubt. Some teachers will weigh the time and benefits rather than the benefits of the student. However, teachers and parents can be used as part of the assessment process (interviews and obtaining a family history), but they cannot perform testing for each child- certification is required.

School psychologist’s responsibilities are growing, but due to budget cuts, they are being placed in multiple schools within a district. Unfortunately because of our economic crisis, we foresee this as being a growing problem. According to the American Psychological Association (Weir, 2012), last February, the Philadelphia school district announced to eliminate half of its 110 school psychologist positions to help close a budget shortfall. While having a school psychologist in every district would alleviate some of the pressure school psychologists are facing, the situation is currently out of our hands. However, the idea of multiple school psychologists is great, if the budget allows for it.

The idea of a pre-referral team seems most ideal in this situation. Getting other stakeholders involved is imperative; the child’s best interest should always be accounted for first. Although, they cannot necessarily perform the same tasks as a school psychologist, and cannot take over the responsibilities of a school psychologist, they can help in the process; it all goes back to making sure each child has a fair amount of time and appropriate services/interventions.

From: Nikki Schreihofer, Brittany Silverman & Dominika Ziolkowska

Weir, K. (2012). School psychologists feel the squeeze. As school budgets shrink,
school-based mental-health services are losing resources and support, 43(8), 34. Retrieved from
http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/09/squeeze.aspx

Anonymous said...

Tanu: You believe that it would be a problem to determine which child receives the most help. We are in agreement with this as well, especially since it is a debatable topic and hard to single out what would be the main determining factor. But how do you prioritize? How do we get parents and faculty involved and will that assist in alleviating the school psychologist’s workload? How can we involve other volunteers when most of the cases are supposed to be kept confidential? We would now be going against the rules of confidentiality and breaking ethical standards. As all of these ideas are well thought-out and important to consider, there doesn’t seem to be a ‘replacement’ for a school psychologist.

From: Nikki Schreihofer, Brittany Silverman & Dominika Ziolkowska

Anonymous said...

Preeti: How do we determine which case is more important? If psychologists, determine which case requires more attention, based on his or her progression is making that decision considered to be a fault? Does this become a bias matter? Would the child still need to be monitored and assessed periodically in order to ensure the intervention truly worked?

From: Nikki Schreihofer, Brittany Silverman & Dominika Ziolkowska

Katie Wiseman said...

I think Tanu made a very valid point when she give the idea to hire extra specialists in order to help with the progress of students with special needs. The main issue with this is that we would need to ensure that these specialists are actually doing what they're being paid to be doing. This dilemma came up this week in the school district where I'm shadowing the school psychologist. Reading specialists had been employed by the district for years, but it was not in their "job description" to take further action beyond basic responsibilities in order to benefit the students. Its a very difficult situation to sort out when we want the child to get that "one on one" extra help, yet they're being pulled out of class for it and missing other instruction. How do we find that balance? There's no easy answer to any of these questions. It is our responsibility as school psychologists to keep the communication open and to make sure that time is being used effectively among all in education. As Preeti said, consultation among all team members is crucial to having a positive effect on students.

preeti patel said...

No case is important than the next. Even if a child shows to be benefiting from an intervention, they should still be monitored. Periodic assessment should be given to all children, but if they are progressing, they do not need further time spent after them. On the other hand, if a child isn't showing improvement, they will need to reamp the educational plan of that child which naturally requires more time.
I'm definately not saying shortcuts should be taken with any child. Each child should go through the same process, it's just that some children will need more time after them. As long as the quality of the time spent after each child is the same, I don't think it would be bias to spend more time on one case over the other.

Denise Annecchino said...

For the most part, I agree with much of what has been said by my colleagues.

Preeti, I think you touched on a lot of valid points that I myself have contemplated as part of my blog post. The one that strikes me the most is this idea of splitting time equally among cases. Many may find my opinion to be controversial and possibly even offensive, however there is no possible way nor is it necessary for a school psychologist to approach their caseload with the mindset that every case will need or should have an equal amount of time dedication. As Preeti said, this in no way implies that each and every case is not of equal import, because creating a successful school environment and intervention plan for EVERY child is absolutely essential. However, not every case will require the same amount of attention and each child will need different intensities of intervention.

As many of you have said, I agree 100% that part of alleviating the amount of responsibility of the school psychologist, and more importantly to get the best outcome for our students, will require the collaboration not only of various professionals within the school and district but with parents/caregivers as well. In order for any intervention to be optimally successful it should pervade every aspect of the child’s life. It is so important for children, in general to have consistency in their lives so one can imagine how important that consistency might be for a child with needs whether behavioral, social, academic, developmental, etc. Yes, this may mean the school psychologist must spend more time getting other team members involved and active. However it is for the benefit of the child, the most important aspect of our jobs, and the benefit of intervention throughout the child’s environment combined with having “all hands on deck” (as Dominika said) will ultimately reduce the amount of time the school psychologist must focus on the case. It becomes more of an issue of maintenance than anything else.

Similarly, this is part of the beauty of the multi-tiered RTI model. Through universal assessment we are able to identify students in need of additional assistance (Tier 2). Through Tier 2 instruction and monitoring we are able to identify students in need of more intense intervention (Tier 3). While the tiers themselves allow school psychologists to identify which cases will require more intense focus (through intervention, monitoring, and maintenance) they also allow for early identification of needs. Thus, school psychologists may very well need to manage their time carefully in order to identify students’ needs and choose appropriate intervention strategies, the idea is to intersect the areas in which the student is struggling before they compound into a much larger problem. By efficiently identifying, intervening, adjusting, and monitoring student progress the school psychologist is minimizing, one case at a time, the amount of intensity and intervention the child will need further down the line.

Of course, I am aware that these things take time. All districts will not immediately gravitate towards the RTI model, not every educator or caregiver involved with every student will want to participate in intervention, and it is more likely than not that school psychologists will be overwhelmed with managing their caseload and allotting the necessary amount of time to every case. Even if it means strict time management now, as future school psychologists we should view it as our responsibility to mold the educational system, appropriately delegating responsibilities to all teams members involved in a case so that we may provide the most comprehensive support for our students, thereby making our students successful and allowing ourselves to focus on the needs of every student.

Anonymous said...

Denise: Your response “hits home” in that we are all in agreement with what you have said. As you state and make clear, “There is no possible way nor is it necessary for a school psychologist to approach their caseload with the mindset that every case will need or should have an equal amount of time dedication.” Earlier in our posts, we were questioning how much time should be allotted for each student, but now we believe that the RTI model helps us to decide which students are “in need of additional assistance.” This is where the importance of assessment becomes relevant. If we appropriately delegate responsibilities to each team member, we will be able to come up with the best possible solution for each child.

From: Nikki Schreihofer, Brittany Silverman, Katie Wiseman & Dominika Ziolkowska

Anonymous said...

To all future school psychologists:

A mentor once taught us the meaning of the acronym for the word TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More. We all believe that in order for RTI to be successful, a solid collaborative TEAM is imperative. Many of the posts in the blog have touched upon the topics of educating parents, teachers, and other faculty members. This collaboration involves an all “hands on deck” approach and continues to be a debatable issue. However, it is important that we respect each other’s opinions and beliefs as well as develop a professional identity of who we will be as future school psychologists; only time will tell.

From: Nikki Schreihofer, Brittany Silverman, Katie Wiseman & Dominika Ziolkowska

Gabrielle Centra said...

The thought of a child not receiving adequate educational support all because there is not enough funding to hire more school psychologists is depressing. In Amanda’s response post, she speaks about how every individual in the school system should be held accountable for student progress. To me, this sounds like wishful thinking. I feel as if teachers are not catering to their students with disabilities as much as they should because of the lack of training they have in teaching this population. It seems as if teachers may view having these students in their classroom as a burden, when in actuality it is an opportunity to truly help a student in need. Amanda also goes on to say how she believes principals need to advocate for students in special education as well. There are not even enough members on most districts Child Study Teams to advocate for students with disabilities, let alone having the principals of the schools take time out of their “busy schedules” to advocate as well. It seems like recently, leaders of these school districts are more focused on budget cuts and reprimanding bad behavior of students then creating an effective and successful learning environment.

Too many people view special education as a separate learning category as regular, public education. The two need to become integrated, especially now that we are becoming more aware of children with learning disabilities. Too many educators view students with special needs as a setback in their curriculum since it may take more time to teach it to them. Once these students are given the attention that they need in order to succeed in their classes, the issue of how much help is needed comes about. Tanu brought up a fantastic question regarding tier 3 and how does one go about prioritizing which students need more help compared to others. There are so many different disabilities out there that there is no way to determine which one is more important to focus on than the other. I believe it should not come down to the importance of the specific disability rather than the fact that every child, no matter what the disability is, has the right to a sufficient and goal-oriented education. When it comes down to it, disability or not, every child is there for the same reason; to achieve a high-standard education to have a successful future. The only difference lies in how the student goes about achieving it. Just because some require more attention than others does not mean there should be this intense stigma against students with disabilities.

In the original blog post it was said that, “Realistically, a school psychologist must manage their time effectively to ensure that students will not be overlooked.” The word “overlooked” struck great interest in me. When you say this, do you mean not overlooked in the initial testing stage when a child is newly coming to terms with his or her disability, or do you mean not overlooked once the child has been screened and an appropriate intervention plan is in place? I feel as if many students, especially ones with emotional-behavioral disabilities, such as depression, are often overlooked since it could be more short-term. Referring to the children that already have an intervention plan in place, are they being checked up on frequently? Are they being retested to see if they have any new strengths or weaknesses or if the treatment plan is working? Bottom line, there are too many students being overlooked in general because of the case overload being pushed upon School Psychologists. There is only so much one can do while still doing it right.

Nicole I. Sanchez said...

The wisest comments are those that come from experience. What I have come to realize, as a result of my practicum placement, is that there is literally just not enough time in the day to get to every child. As most of you have stated already, although it would be ideal for a School Psychologist to have equal amount of time to help implement the best IEP possible for each individual student, it is highly unlikely that it will happen. Early intervention applied by RTI is an effective option for students with disabilities, but in order for this measure to be operative there needs to be “team work” amongst all of those involved in the prosperity of students with disabilities.

As Cassie and many of you have touched on, the efforts of all members of the Child Study Team including the School Psychologist, Case Manager, LDT-C, Behavior Analyst, Social Worker, Speech/Language Specialist etc., as well as the student’s parents and teachers should all take part in the intervention process. Jovanna made a valid point about parents needing more involvement in their child’s educational endeavors. Why not have parents involved in workshops where they can give their opinion? You do not need a degree in order to have an idea. Only as a team can we aspire to help, if not all students with disabilities, as many as possible. A collaborative approach is the best possible solution to this time restraint issue. Nothing is guaranteed but it is a start.

Preeti, I agree 100% that those students who exhibit improvement and progress should not have extended amount of time dedicated to them because that time could be spent with a child who is really struggling in their academics. It is imperative that as a School Psychologist you manage your time well so that those students, who need your efforts the most, will get it.

Sherlyne D said...

Based on my experience sitting in school meetings with parents and the CST, I've definitely witnessed both perspectives during the prereferral process and IEP reviews. Which brings me to my next point that prereferral interventions which include RTI should be taken seriously by the IR&S team. If interventions are successful, then less students will be referred for multidisciplinary evaluations to determine eligibility for learning disabilities. Overtime, I think this will help lighten the case load for school psychologists or make it seem more manageable because they will actually be dealing with appropriate referrals. Especially if a school doesn't have enough funding to hire two or more school psychologists, more time should definitely be dedicated to the prereferral process.

Moreover, the involvement of parents, teachers, school counselors, etc is a must. Whether the child is in the process of being classified or is already classified, everyone has to be proactive in choosing appropriate interventions for the child and implementing them based on the child's individual needs. Therefore, it is our responsibility as future school psychologists to follow the 3 principles for selecting high quality academic interventions as mentioned in Table 8.1 of our textbook. Even if parents disagree with the intervention, it's not necessarily a bad thing because after all a child's IEP is a collaborative agreement.

Since time is of an essence, other ways faculty can contribute is to be responsible for their own roles. I agree with Amanda that school psychologists should not be given other responsibilities that should be of their colleagues. For example, if it's not a child study team issue then it should be referred to guidance. I know as future school psychologists, we want to help but keep in my mind that boundaries must be established. It's through setting boundaries that we can utilize our time more effectively so that we could better serve our students.