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Monday, November 19, 2012

How do you solve a problem without evidence?

As the trend of role expansion in school psychology continues, the role as “problem solver” has created a dilemma for school psychologists. According to Ysseldyke et al. (2006), “school psychologists should possess the ability to use problem-solving and scientific methodology to create, evaluate, and apply appropriately empirically validated interventions at both an individual and systems level” (p.14). School psychologists are increasingly being held accountable for the intervention programs they choose. More than ever, the pressure for school psychologists to effectively and efficiently choose an intervention is increasing; school administrators expect school psychologists to make these decisions as quickly and accurately as possible.

Fortunately, organizations such as the APA and the US department of Education have created guidelines and criteria to help facilitate this decision making process. The guidelines serve to help school psychologists and other school personnel distinguish effective vs. ineffective intervention programs. The documents provide criteria that determines what an effective intervention entails. Below are links to the guidelines in detail:

● http://www.apa.org/practice/guidelines/evaluating.pdf
● http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/rigorousevid/rigorousevid.pdf
● http://evidencebasedpolicy.org/docs/Evid-based_educ_strategy_for_ED.pdf.

The guidelines and criteria provide school psychologist with assistance in choosing effective interventions. However, the guidelines do not guarantee that the program will be implemented in the school. At the school and district level, there are other influences that affect how an intervention is implemented and if it is applied effectively. According to Peacock (2010) teacher acceptance, commitment, and site-based administrative support can impede on intervention implementation (p. 214, p.228). Why would teachers and administrators be opposed to implementing effective interventions? In regards to implementing an intervention program, how can a school psychologist advocate their case and what evidence can they provide to teachers and administrators to prove their plan is beneficial?

Unfortunately, some of the most effective interventions can be costly and difficult to implement in schools, especially with limited resources. These poorer school districts may shy away from effective interventions and opt for an inexpensive program with less efficacy. On the contrary, costly programs such as DARE are still being used in schools even after being proved ineffective years ago. How do you feel about these decision on implementation? What would you do if you were the administrator in a poor school district? Do these decisions worsen school and student outcome or provide some kind of benefit? Have you seen or know of any programs scientifically proven ineffective yet still utilized within a school? How much accountability should be put on school personnel-who implement these programs whether they agree with them or not- when programs fail to produce positive results?


Peacock, G. G., Ervin, R. A., Daly III, E. J., & Merrell, K. W. (2010). Practical handbook of school psychology. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Ysseldyke, J. E., Burns, M., Kelley, B., Morrison, D., Ortiz, S., Rosenfield, S., et al. (2006). School psychology: A blueprint for training and practice: III. Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

This Blog was created by: Tanushree Mehta, Heather Newman, Krista Johnson, Derrick Wilson, and Amanda Elliott