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Monday, December 2, 2013

Going Beyond Data...

We have learned how useful evidence-based data can be to a School Psychologist. This chapter discusses how the School Psychologist plays an essential role in assisting other school staff in understanding and using that data. School Psychologists are described as “knowledge brokers” (Schaughency, 548) because they communicate information about evidence-based assessments.

Data based decision making is key to improving outcomes and it is essential to the RTI model. Evaluation data supports delivery of services and decision making by aiding with communication to parents and teachers, known as internal stakeholders, as well as administrators, known as external stakeholders.. To evaluate evidence-based competence-building practices summative and formative evaluations are used. Summative evaluations are used after the intervention to answer the question “was the intervention effective?” Formative Evaluations are conducted during the intervention to evaluate if the intervention is having the desired effect so that plan can be adapted to accomplish the outcome.

The interpretation of the data is essential. The person presenting the information needs to be cognizant of the audience who will be presented with the data. When explaining data it is important to remember that basic statisticial concepts known to psycholigists may not be easily understood by other school personell or parents. The information should be conveyed in a way that is understood by all involved. It is suggested that the school psychologist eliminate jargon and utlize graphs to convey information.

While data can be very useful, it is only useful if it is readily available. The availability of data at the time of decision making is essential. The authors cite the example of a student's achievement tests being sent out for processing and not returning until after the school year has ended, rendering the data useless.

During your practicum experience you have probably witnessed decisions having to be made quickly. How does the fast-paced atmosphere of a school (including demanding teachers and parents) allow for evaluation data? What is the likelihood of the data being available when you need it? Is the majority of decision making that you've seen in your practicum been based on evidence-based data?

There are two major foundational elements that underlie implementation of the problem-solving model; the problem solving methods and the problem-solving framework. In the problem solving method, four main questions posed are: 1. “what is the problem?” which involves exploring the discrepancy between what is expected of the student and what is occurring, 2. “Why is the problem occurring?” which is referred to as the problem analysis, 3. “What should be done about the problem?” relating to reducing problem magnitude, and 4. “Is what we are doing working?” which examines data on the student’s progress over time and the degree to which the problem has lessened over time. Out of these questions, which do you think is the most important/influential in the process? Do you think that there is any one question, that without, the problem-solving model would not be able to function efficiently?

In the late 80’s and early 90’s, a problem-solving framework used was called The Heartland approach. This approach had no specific rules for students to move from one phase to the next, and the problem-solving logic was applied to individual cases, based on the student’s educational environment (Tilly III, Niebling, Rahn-Blakeslee, p.583). This model had limitations; it was reactive rather than proactive, teachers had trouble implementing a large number of individual plans while also teaching a class, and teachers viewed the model as a way to place students into special education. The new framework that supports the problem-solving method is systems framework, the model we are all familiar with, RTI. The systems framework encourages psychologists to hold five assumptions, which are: 1. the scientific method guides decision making, 2. direct, functional assessments provide the best information for decision- making, 3. learning is an interaction between curriculum, instruction, and the environment, 4. all students can learn, and 5. effective interventions are matched to unique student needs. After reading about Heartland approach and the systems framework and encouraged assumptions, do you think there are any positives that the Heartland approach exhibited that you would like to see implemented into the systems framework/RTI approach? In your practicum experiences, have you seen a model with characteristic of the Heartland approach implemented, or does the school psychologist stick more closely to the RTI method?

Daly, E.J., Ervin, R.A., Merrell, K.W., & Peacock, G.G. (2010). Practical Handbook of School Psychology. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

This Blog was created by: Alison Stratthaus & Jessica Maneri

Crunching Numbers

This blog describes the school psychologist’s role in using data collection and interpretation to support the implementation and evaluation of interventions. For example, why data should be used, what data should be used, and how data should be gathered and utilized. Important to note is that idea that simply gathering the data is not sufficient. Interpreting the data and determining how it should be presented and used is the focal point. Specifically, two types of data should be collected: data related to “student’s functioning in the academic or social domain of interest and, the instructional or socialization contexts relevant to those domains” (p. 551). Technology can be used to gather data either at an individual, group, or school-wide level. For example, databases containing student’s data be updated as soon as the data becomes available so that data-based decisions can be made in a time efficient manner. Teachers, principals, parents, and other stakeholders may not have a heavy statistical background and therefore it is the job of the school psychologist to present that data in a way that is easy to understand. This allows all team members to be more likely to support the data-based decision to implement an intervention.

In addition to collecting and interpreting data, as always, the school psychologist is responsible for understanding the different team members involved in the intervention. The characteristics of the user and the context of the intervention must not be overlooked; “professional development and support for implementation should be integrated into the organization” and “school psychologists can facilitate organizational development via activities such as educative and skill-building professional development, problem and systems analysis, and team development” (p. 556). However, other’s willingness to embrace such training depends on their individual experiences with interventions, the school climate, and their own responsibilities. In general, once the data has been collected and interpreted, the psychologist’s “challenge is to maintain focus on the relationships between indices of student performance, strategies implemented to target performance, and systems and routines for examining these data in problem solving” (p.562).

Given the information presented in the chapter the following questions arose in our minds and we would like to get your thoughts:
1.) Do you think it is fair or even feasible to task the school psychologist with gathering, interpreting, and presenting data and also getting everyone onboard with using the date to make decisions?

2.) How do you think a school psychologist should approach a situation in which one or more teachers are not willing to participate in professional development workshops?

3.) Do you think the school is making a good decision by putting all the responsibility on one person to interpret data?

The problem-solving method gives psychologists a data based framework when identifying problems and solutions. The problem-solving framework promotes the application of the problem-solving method. The problem-solving method is driven by answering a set of four questions;
1) What is the problem?
2) Why is the problem occurring?
3) What should be done about the problem?
4) Is what we are doing working? The point of the problem-solving framework is to reinforce problem-solving behaviors.

Problem solving cannot be successful without basic skills. Psychologists need to be trained in both tool skills and the thinking process, be knowledgeable in the use of data from not only students but staff skills as well, and lastly, it is recommended that the school psychologist have an ongoing support system for implementation.

There are two frameworks; a framework that is very effective for individual cases and a framework that is helpful in larger, school wide cases. The second framework can also be geared towards individual cases but also can be a preventative method. There are pros and cons to each of these frameworks. Can you think of a situation where you might use one over the other?

Daly, E.J., Ervin, R.A., Merrell, K.W., & Peacock, G.G. (2010). Practical Handbook of School Psychology. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

This Blog was created by: Alicia Marie Balkjy & Olivia Mounet

Monday, November 4, 2013

Who are we leaving behind?

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires those working in education to use evidence-based interventions. Interventions that research has determined to be effective in an educational setting include: one-on-one tutoring by qualified tutors for at risk readers in grades 1-3; life-skills training for junior high students; reducing class size in grades K-3; instruction for early readers in phonemic awareness and phonics; and high-quality educational care and preschool for low-income children.
Further identification of evidence-based interventions and supports is ongoing. Educational institutions no longer wish to waste precious time trying various programs without scientific evidence behind them. Due to a slower than expected rise in achievement levels in public schools, the U.S. Department of Education is looking to advance evidence-based policy in its own department and the broader policy community. Therefore, evidence-based practices have emerged out of the NCLB mandates that have not only effected how the Department of Education approaches educational strategies but also how practitioners in the schools will manage intervention policies from a school-wide to classroom perspective.

In order to create effective evidence based curricula and interventions, children need to be tested to establish which approach is most effective. While education should strive to implement programs and interventions that have been shown to work over time, many are not in favor of children being tested multiple times -- pre-tests, post-tests and standardized tests -- in order to establish the statistical information needed. What is your opinion regarding the implementation of evidence-based interventions? The effect of multiple-testing scenarios with elementary age and older public education students?

One of the most critical functions a school psychologist performs is the selection of effective interventions. As school psychologists we must follow certain guidelines and criteria to examine research support of interventions before choosing the ones we will implement. There are four main categories which are recommended when examining the evidence base to support an intervention and determining if interventions are flexible and sensitive to realities of schools and school-based practice. These categories consist of scientific basics, key features, clinical utility, and feasibility and cost-effectiveness.

Scientific basics relates to the empirical/theoretical basis, general design qualities, and statistical treatment of the prevention or intervention under review. Key features relates to the internal and construct validity criteria. Clinical utility relates to external validity and how appropriate an intervention is for a person’s specific needs. Lastly, feasibility and cost-effectiveness relate to the simplicity and compliance of others to put an intervention into place, as well as budget related factors. As a school psychologist, do you think that meeting all four of these guidelines is necessary? Which of the guidelines do you find to be the most or least important and why?

There has been an increased emphasis on parent teacher partnerships in schools due to the significant relationship between home environment and school behavior. The school psychologist often takes on the role of a ‘broker” in these partnerships. Chapter 3 analyzes appropriate actions that a school psychologist must take and knowledge that he or she must possess in order to consult to parents. Consistent with this chapter, it is the duty of the school psychologist to educate parents on issues such as rule-governed behavior, child development, and child learning, and others.

It is up to the school psychologist to guide parents to perceive certain behaviors through the eyes of their child and in this way to understand why they do what they do and what can be done to change the behavior. The chapter talks about different treatment applications that parents typically practice such as time out and task-based grounding. It also mentions negative effects of punitive consequences that some parents use. A common example is a child running into the street when a car is approaching; the parent gets scared and as a result yells at the child. Many people believe that the parent is wrong for yelling at the child while others believe this method will in fact teach the child not to run into the street again. What do you think about punitive consequences? Are there ever situations when they are appropriate? As a school psychologist, what would you recommend the parent do instead of, or in addition to, punitive consequences?

Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy. (2002). Bringing evidence-driven progress to education: A recommended strategy for the U.S. Department of Education.

Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy. (2003). Identifying and implementing education practices supported by rigorous evidence: A user friendly guide.

Daly, E.J., Ervin, R.A., Merrell, K.W., & Peacock, G.G. (2010). Practical Handbook of School Psychology. New York, NY: The Guilford

This Blog was created by: Lisa Kleitsch, Rozanna Shindelman, and Keri Georgewitz

Interventions that WORK

In education, multiple interventions such as retention, ability grouping, after-school programs and school wide reform programs have been attempted to improve educational outcomes. However, such interventions were not supported by rigorous evidence. As a result there has been no progress in raising elementary and secondary school achievement the past 30 years according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. This lack of progress has occurred despite a 90% increase in spending per student for the same time period.

Since the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act educators have been encouraged to use “scientifically-based research” to guide their decisions about which interventions to implement. The belief is that with the implementation of scientifically–based interventions there will be advances in the effectiveness of education in America. School psychologist play an important role in assisting school personnel with the implementation of interventions for students.

• What evidence based interventions have you seen being used in your practicum placements?
• What role does the school psychologist play in the implementation of these interventions?
• Do you feel that schools over, under or appropriately utilize school psychologists’ in the implementation of evidence based interventions?

There is a need for school psychologists to function as evidence-based practitioners who apply evaluation procedures in conjunction with intervention implementation. Unfortunately most research that's available does not address some of the most important issues being faced in real world educational settings. As raised in our midterm, there are a number of factors interfering with school psychologist’s ability to apply interventions. These factors vary in the degree to which they affect the ways interventions are selected and applied at the individual and systems level (Peacock, Ervin, Daly III, & Merrell, 2010). Evidence-based guidelines have been developed in order to educate school professionals with the purpose of promoting the implementation of effective practices. These guidelines were created to help professionals, in our case school psychologists, work through the process of "systematically finding, appraising, and using research findings as the basis for selecting and implementing interventions" (Peacock et al., 2010).

An intervention will not guarantee success. Intervention success does not simply rely on the effectiveness of the intervention but rather on the characteristics of the student or the district one is working with. Although we have learned the importance of research support in selecting interventions, it is evident every child has individual needs and what may be successful for one child may not be for another. An intervention that is based on a group's success may not necessarily produce success for an individual student.

The School Psychology Task Force on Evidence-Based Interventions has established four categories that will examine the evidence base to support an intervention. The four categories are as follows: scientific basis, key features, clinical utility aspects, and feasibility, and cost-effectiveness (Peacock et al., 2010). Do you believe these categories are sufficient in proving the effectiveness of an intervention? Which criteria do you think are most or least important?

Based on the four set of criteria, two interventions were mentioned in the chapter, parent-child interactions therapy (PCIT) and the Incredible Years series. PCIT focuses on direct interaction with the child and parent while the Incredible Years series includes child, parent, and teacher interaction. Although both are supported by a great deal of evidence, which would you recommend to a parent with a child experiencing behavioral concerns? What factors would guide your decision?

Some applications of behavior intervention methods discussed in the chapter were time-out (TO) and time-in (TI), task-based grounding (TBG), the classroom pass program, and home-school notes. All applications have shown successful outcomes and aid in the partnership between the school psychologist and parents. TO is commonly used by parents but if not implemented correctly, it will prove to be ineffective. TO will almost always require professional input (Peacock et al., 2010). TBG should encourage children to complete the tasks given by their parents rather than encourage inappropriate behavioral issues. The classroom pass allows children an escape option in an aversive situation which provides a sense of control while home-school notes facilitate communication between the home and school settings (Peacock et al., 2010).

• Of the previously mentioned applications, which do you think result in long lasting results?

• What are major disadvantages a parent and school psychologist may experience while attempting to implement such applications?

• As a future school psychologist, how would you recommend a specific at home intervention without offending parents?


Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy (2002). Bringing evidence-driven progress to education: A recommended strategy for the U.S. Department of Education. http://www.excelgov.org/usermedia/images/uploads/PDFs/coalitionFinRpt.pdf

Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy. (2003). Identifying and implementing education practices supported by rigorous evidence: A user friendly guide. http://excelgov.org/usermedia/images/uploads/PDFs/User-Friendly_Guide_12.2.03.pdf

Peacock, G. G., Ervin, R. A., Dally III, E. J., Merrell, K. W. (2010). Practical handbook of school psychology: Effective practices for the 21st century. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

This Blog was created by: Estela Lopez & Roseann Brizan

Monday, October 7, 2013

New IDEAs for a Brighter Education

IDEA was originally enacted by Congress in 1975 to ensure that children with disabilities have the opportunity to receive a free appropriate high quality public education, just like any other children in the United States. The law has been subject to revision many times throughout the years.

This reform was made to shed light on special education, and help with the problems they face every day. The new law promotes excellence in special education with reforms based on academic results for students, early intervention, parental choice, and paperwork reduction.
NASP, National Association of School Psychologist has been highly involved with the new reform by helping policymakers develop new state regulations, advocating for provisions that will improve the lives of children with disabilities, and promoting the significant contributions the school psychologists make in the school system.

The most recent amendments were passed by Congress in December 2004, with final regulations published in August 2006 (Part B for school-aged children) and in September 2011 (Part C, for babies and toddlers). So, in one sense, the law is very new, even as it has a long, and powerful history.

IDEA 2004 continues to follow the problem solving models of early intervention and disability identification that have been in place for the past twenty years. However, there is a stronger support in the law for the use of a process that determines whether the child responds to scientific, research based intervention as part of the evaluation procedures. Also, states no longer require districts to consider an IQ/Achievement discrepancy criterion. These changes in the law present new challenges and opportunities for school personnel working with special needs populations. With the implementation of the new regulations, new roles and responsibilities have started to emerge for the school professionals; especially for the school psychologists.
• Taking in consideration the above mentioned changes in the law, can you discuss some of the strategies developed to help implement them?
• We often see how working “straight from the books” differs significantly from working in the applied field. How do you think the IDEA 2004 changes affect the practice of special education?
• As a school psychologist one of the main focus of training to help identify a learning disability is cognitive testing. What are your thoughts on the new law that allow educational agencies to eliminate the IQ/Achievement discrepancy requirement? Do you think it is detrimental to the school psychology practice?

Under IDEA, no state or local educational agency personnel can require a child to obtain a prescription for a substance covered by the Controlled Substances Act as a condition of attending to school, receiving an evaluation under subsection (a) or (c) of section 614, or receiving services under this title.
• Do you agree with this? Also, do you think teachers and school psychologist should be able to tell a child or his/her parents that the child should take medication in order to succeed academically?

The new IDEA reform requires that local educational agencies “take measurable steps to recruit, hire, train, and retain highly qualified personnel to provide special education and related services.” The reform focuses on early intervention to prevent over- identification of the students who may need additional academic and behavioral support to succeed in general education from the students in need of special education services.
• Do you think over-identification and false diagnosis have been a problem? Do you think that early intervening services can help?

Chapter 12 of the Practical Handbook of School Psychology focuses on functional behavior assessment (FBA). The text defines FBA as “a systematic process for identifying variables that reliably predict and control problem behavior. Functional behavior assessments came to the forefront in 1997 after the inception of Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1997 (IDEA). IDEA requires schools to review or conduct FBA before a child with a disability is disciplined. FBA’s are important because two different children can display the same behavior, but the function of the behavior may serve two different purposes. For example, two children scream and yell out consistently in class despite the teacher’s requests for quiet. One student may be screaming because they do not like the teacher or they are trying to impress their friends. Another student may be yelling because he or she has Asperger Syndrome (AS) and is having difficulty communicating. When something like this occurs, it is important for the teacher to be aware that the student has a disability and to let the school psychologist know about the behavior.

Even though there is not a universal framework or model to conduct an FBA, the text provides a framework that seems useful. It includes the following steps:
1. Clarify the purpose of assessment.
2. Define the problem.
3. Develop a progress monitoring system.
4. Identify variables that are functionally related to targeted responses.
5. Design interventions.
6. Evaluate interventions.

• How do you feel about FBA? Do you believe it is effective? Why or why not?

This Blog was created by Florencia Torres, Craig Barriale and Lawrence Carter.

Re-Defining Behavior...

A functional behavioral assessment (FBA) is defined as “a systematic process for identifying variables that reliably predict and control problem behavior. The purpose of FBA is to improve the effectiveness, relevance, and efficiency of behavior intervention plans by matching treatment to the individual characteristics of the child and his or her environment” (Peacock, Ervin, Daly III, & Merrell, 2010, p.192). Most behaviors exist within their context, as behaviors often result from what is happening in the students’ environment, warranting more time to be spent assessing the environment, rather than the child (Peacock et al., 2010). It is presumed that identifying antecedents and consequences, and linking these components to treatment, can most effectively treat target behavior, enabling goals to be met. Each student must be approached individually, tailoring FBAs to their personal applicable domains. There are six main components which coexist in the conceptualization of an FBA: clarify the purpose of assessment, define the problem in an objective manner, develop a progress monitoring system such as response to intervention (RTI), identify variables that are functionally related to target response, design interventions, and evaluate interventions (Peacock et al., 2010). There are seven identified interventions including: skill acquisition through teaching interactions, improving fluency through increased opportunities to respond, altering establishing operations to address performance deficits, differential reinforcement to address performance deficits, altering established operations to reduce performance excess, differential reinforcement to decrease performance excesses, and extinction of either positive or negative punishment (Peacock et al., 2010). Ultimately, the purpose of conducting an FBA is to enhance student outcomes, utilizing a positive behavior support plan, utilizing interventions that address skill deficits, performance deficits, and performance excess. Of the interventions discussed, which do you believe is the most effective?

Framed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA) , FBAs are a mandated practice, prior to the formulation of an individualized education plan (IEP) (Peacock et al., 2010). The IDEA had no prior requirements for FBAs and behavior intervention plans (BIP) until its revisions in 1997 and 2004. IEP teams had the option to consider when it was appropriate to them to use positive behavioral interventions in addressing problem behaviors that impeded on the students learning (Zirkel, 2011). The language in the 1997 IDEA was vague and left for the IEP team to determine appropriate interventions for problem behaviors. It was not until IDEA 2004 revisions, where the earlier requirements of addressing behavior was strengthened by the establishment of a more straightforward approach, mandating all IEP teams to “consider the use” of FBAs and BIPs at all times when dealing with problematic behavior (Zirkel, 2011). An FBA was deemed necessary in order to determine if the child warranted an alternative educational setting due to what is called a manifestation of determination. A manifestation of determination is a meeting for student with special needs, who accumulate ten out of school suspensions within a school year. The Child Study Team and administrators, meet with the parent(s) of the student to determine the student’s educational future, in relation to their current school setting. This past class we discussed ethical issues and our role as school psychologists, upholding ethical guidelines. Prior to mandating FBAs and BIP in the 2004 act, school districts had the option to consider if the behavior being exhibited warranted an FBA or BIP. As future school psychologist, we must use FBAs and IBP at all times when dealing with chronic problematic behaviors, which impede a student from learning to their full potential. If we fail to complete FBAs and BIP when warranted, it would be unjust, as it could negatively affect the student. How important do you think it is to conduct an FBA in the school setting? Do you think the functions of an FBA assist in determining whether interventions are deemed necessary?

Peacock, G. G., Ervin, R. A., Dally III, E. J., Merrell, K. W. (2010). Practical handbook of school psychology: Effective practices for the 21st century. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Zirkel, P. (2011). State special education laws for functional behavioral assessment and behavior intervention plans. Behavioral Disorders, 36(4), 262-278.

This Blog was created by Giselle Batista and Udoka Franklin Nwigwe.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 things that do not work." Thomas Edison

The preceding quotes, although taken from individuals of different disciplines, share a common and pertinent thread that is very much relevant to the field of School Psychology. This field we seek to learn, and ultimately influence, requires us to not only balance a multitude of dynamic responsibilities, it demands that we seamlessly incorporate the needs of students, parents, school administrators, and binding legislation into one cohesive and pragmatic whole. Within the whirlwind of these oftentimes opposing responsibilities, however, we must not loose sight of what lies at the core of a school psychologist’s identity: as both Edison and Pavlov speak to above, we are first and foremost guided by the principals of the scientific method. That is, we seek answers through a systematic implementation of empirically based theory and knowledge which requires us to be self-critical, learn from failures, and delve beneath the data we so meticulously collect.

Using this simple philosophy as a backdrop, the question becomes whether school psychologists are able to reconcile their guiding professional principals with the demands set forth by local, state, and federal laws. Perhaps to better understand the burdens placed by both distinct entities, it behooves us to delineate their major influences and concerns.

In respect to data driven and empirically based practices, school psychology currently employs a multi-tiered approach grounded in the Response to Intervention (RTI) theory coupled with functional behavioral assessment. The former employs universal screening and progress monitoring, strategically selected interventions, and data-based decision making (Peacock, Ervin, Daly III, & Merrell, 2010). The latter attempts to determine the function of a problem behavior by gathering information about the relationship between their antecedents and consequences (Peacock et al., 2010). Both of these problem-solving approaches require deft assessment measure selection, data interpretation, and intervention selection. All the while, the school psychologist must remain vigilant in his or her attention to different hypothesis that can garner the most effective course of action to each child’s unique sensibilities. Moreover, it is imperative that ultimately the intervention be implemented with fidelity, integrity, and in a timely manner for time spent in the process is lost in instruction (Peacock et al., 2010).

Legislative influences are just as important, if not more so, in driving the. Within Chapter 14 of the New Jersey Special Education Administrative Code, Title 6A, the legal responsibilities of school psychologists are methodically detailed. Expectations and rights ranging from school psychologists’ responsibilities, parental involvement and consent, special education classifications, Child Study Team (CST) duties, etc. are disseminated. The New Jersey Parental Rights in Special Education (PRISE) provides a more reader friendly version of the statutes, specifically focusing on all parental and child rights and applicable courses of action. Although the two are meant to clearly elucidate both the internal mechanisms and procedures for providing special services, along with the rights and avenues available to parents, they can at times more closely resemble the format of confusing tax forms.

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) in its Professional Conduct Manual outlines attempts at dovetailing school psychologists’ professional ideals with legislative responsibilities. Ethical guidelines are provided which are part and parcel with providing professional services emphasizing empathy, cultural sensitivity, confidentiality, and overall proper conduct. What is most interesting, however, are the Guidelines for the Provision of School Psychological Services, which provide the underlying goals and direction of school psychology and all its supportive systems. They serve as a model of “good practice” for the field as a whole, as well as aspirations that should be striven for.
Utilizing a synapsis of the relevant literature, theories, and guidelines that dictate the current and potential future practice of school psychology, we now draw your attention to some specific and salient issues and the questions they command.

• The demographics of the United States are changing at a pace that rivals any other time in our history. Together with these changes in the social makeup of our communities, are the ever-increasing financial and acculturative pressures born by minorities in particular. With these realities in mind, are the explanations provided with PRISE sufficient for all parents? That is, are they clear to all cultures, socio-economic statuses, and education levels? Are further supportive measures necessary to ensure all parents fully understand the rights their children and they deserve?

• Procedures are set in place to guide school psychologists and CST’s from referral, to assessment, to intervention, and beyond. Throughout this processes, data-driven decision-making is stressed and employed. IEP’s stipulate that reevaluations are to be conducted every three years, yet RTI’s ongoing progress monitoring can be weekly, even daily, to ensure relevant data are collected and confirm efficacy of interventions. Shouldn’t these evaluation schedules be more proportional to each other if they seek to produce the same theoretical outcome? That is, is a three-year gap between evaluations conducive to effective IEP implementation?

• NASP’s ethical and “good practice” guidelines possess strong ideals that should be anchored in all school psychologists’ underlying principals. It fails, however, in suggesting how to effectively balance its ideals with practical implementation in school districts, which oftentimes do not possess the resources, structures or values for effective problem-solving methodologies to flourish. In fact, NASP states, “Ethical behavior may occasionally be forbidden by policy or law…” (NASP, 2000). Therefore, how might state legal guidelines set forth in Chapter 14 of the New Jersey Special Education Administrative Code, Title 6A be congruent or in opposition with those within NASP’s Professional Conduct Manual? Does the former impose limitations that erode the spirit of the latter? If so, how would you suggest one could more harmoniously bring the two together?

• In a functional analysis of behavior, antecedent and consequence variables are experimentally manipulated to verify the function of behavior, and the effects are compared to increase the validity of intervention selection decisions. In this way functionally significant target variables linked to interventions can be clarified (Peacock et al., 2010). With laws and codes for the performance of school psychology, under NJ Administrative Code Title 6A, delineating actions of school psychologists to the point of diagnosis, along with school districts’ budgets being slashed every year, do you as a future school psychologist feel that you will be able to implement a functional analysis approach? Do you feel state statutes, as they stand, limit your ability to fully utilize your skills as a professional? Furthermore, who do feel is, or should be, the ultimate arbiter that dictates the field’s future direction?

• According to PRISE, parents have rights to refer their children for assessment and according to NJ Administrative Code Title 6A, school psychologists have a professional right to determine what type of assessment is appropriate, and if an assessment is warranted. Peacock (2010) details 3 principles for selecting high-quality academic intervention (p.116):
• Know why and when academic intervention strategies work.
• Select intervention components that match the student's instructional needs.
• Prove that the intervention is valid for the student.

Clearly, not all referrals necessitate the same type of assessment and intervention. It would be your task to effectively apply the steps above in your determination. As a school psychologist, how will you explain to the parent that you do not believe a "full assessment" is appropriate for their child, or that a simpler and less intrusive action is appropriate based on your professional evaluation? What alternative actions beyond formal assessment are available for suggestion?

"Don't become a mere recorder of facts, but try to penetrate the mystery of their origin." Ivan Pavlov

This BLOG entry was created by Fabio Simao & Rivca Modiano Zacharia.

A Practical Means to a Sometimes Unpractical End: School Psychology

The school psychologist may have a romanticized vision of themselves and their job description. A central role of a school psychologist is to “stand up” for the needs and rights of the student/client, particularly when this may be challenging. In reality the modern school psychologist works within the confines of federal, state, district and professional guidelines, and many times struggle if they do not have the support of the principle, teachers, and parents. A school psychologist may feel constrained and even strangled by the political and bureaucratic aspects of the position, yet, must practice harmoniously with federal, state, and district guidelines, laws, and mandates. What problems do you see arising from the restrictions set on school psychologists by the “N.J.A.C. 6A:14, SPECIAL EDUCATION.? In order for interventions to be successful they need to be endorsed by the principal and followed through by the teacher. What could happen when this support system breaks down? We like to think that school psychologists get to make creative choices and unique interventions. When looking at the NASP guidelines do see an opportunity to use your own ideas? Are the NASP guidelines too strict?

The guidelines of NASP address such issues as professional competency, professional relationships, professional practices, and practice settings - including independent practice. Principle number five under professional relationships states, “School psychologists are responsible for the direction and nature of their personal loyalties or objectives. When these commitments may influence a professional relationship, school psychologists inform all concerned persons of relevant issues in advance, including, when applicable, their direct supervisor for consideration of reassignment of responsibilities.” What are some of the implications of this principle? How and why do you think this is a relevant issue in professional ethics?

It is key to remember that parents are a valued member of the child study team, who contribute to making determinations and developing their child’s IEP. Parents are most empowered when they maintain an active role in their child’s education. To obtain the most from this process, the State of New Jersey has outlined Parental Rights in Special Education for the parents. It details the steps of the special education process, from making a referral, to resources for educational transitions. How familiar are you with the PRISE guidelines? What do you think the extent of the parent’s role is? Too much involvement? Too little involvement? What types of conflicting interests exist between the parent, the district, and the school psychologist?

New Jersey Department of Education. (2012). Parental Rights in Special Education.

National Association of School Psychologists. (2000). Professional Conduct Manual.

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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.

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