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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

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.

“School Psych as a Gatekeeper” (Peacock, G. G., Ervin, R. A., Daly, E. J., & Merrell, K.W.2009)

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.


This BLOG entry was created by: Sean Latino, Rachel Schneider, Danielle Territo & Jenny Pagonis.

14 comments:

Giselle Batista said...

The school psychologist serves as the gatekeeper in the field of school psychology, to some extent. It seems that in addition to the multiple factor school psychologist contribute to ()i.e testing, intervention planning, treatment planning, etc.), the school psychologist also attempts to facilitate the process for other parties involved, including the parents, teachers, and the identified individual as well. As noted, in the paradigm of the multiple areas addressed by the school psychologist, there are many law and regulations that school psychologist are expected to abide. In relation to the N.J.A.C. 6A:14, Special Education, there are numerous regulations that the school psychologist molds their interventions/planning to adhere to. Although it may seem extensive, I think these regulations are placed to best assist the identified student. Many advances have been made in the field of school psychology, permanent to the enhancement of treatment/interventions for children with disabilities. Within this construct, we must not fail to forget that these regulations have probably been put in place so that the whole system can function to the best of it's ability, most effectively assisting the student. Maybe some of the things that seem to be common sense today, were not "so much common-sense" when they were constructed, and therefore required some addressing. As presented through Peacock, Ervin, Daly III and Merrell (2010), we have to remember that the school psychologist can be identified as the agent of change, serving various roles. Although there are multiple regulations within each of the roles, the regulations have been implemented to address certain aspects that are required to assist the student in performing to the best of their ability.

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

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.

Jessica Vittorino said...

The role of parents in decision-making meetings and the IEP process is an essential one as parents are the ultimate expert on the child in question. Parents have the right to request an evaluation, participate in important meetings, and must give consent before all plans are implemented for the first time or changed, before records are released and before reevaluations. Parents also “have the right to participate in meetings regarding: identification (decision to evaluate); evaluation (nature and scope of assessment procedures); classification (determination of whether your child is eligible for special education and related services); development and review of your child’s individualized education program (IEP); educational placement of your child; and reevaluation of your child” (NJDOE, 2012, p. 1).


I believe the role parents are able to play in the IEP process is a fair one. Parents are given the opportunity to be very involved in the special education needs of their children. Some issues that may arise during the evaluation process between parents and the child study team (CST) might be if the parents don’t agree with the decisions made by the CST. The parents may feel like their child requires either more or less services than suggested by the school. Parents may even feel like their child requires no services at all or they may feel like their child requires services the school is unable to give the child. Disagreements in intervention strategies and modifications may also come up. Parents may decide the school is unable to provide their child with proper special education needs and remove their child from the school. New Jersey allows for parents to be an intricate part of their child's education and gives parents the right to work collaboratively with the CST to make sure their child is receiving the best education possible.


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

Jessica Maneri said...

I was unfamiliar with PRISE before reading through the attached link. I think the role that the parents play in children’s special education services is a large role. They are given an extreme amount of rights that enable them to say yes or no to anything that the child study team wants to do/refrain from doing for their child. They have the power to stop intervention process or say they do not agree with part of their child's IEP. In most ways, I definitely understand why the parent holds the power to make the overall decision about whether or not their child receives special education, however, I think in some situations this can definitely be detrimental, for example, when working with a parent/parents who are in denial that their child may be struggling in school and/or suffering from a disability. Additionally, a parent might be an over the top advocate for their child, putting their wants/hopes for their child above what is, according to a team of specialists, realistic for the child. During a day spent at the school I am shadowing at, I was introduced to a case where a student with a physical and a cognitive disability is sent out of district. The issue at hand is that the parent is pushing to “equal the playing field” and have this child be a part of the school’s football team, without trying out. Being that the student has a physical disability, the student cannot be tackled. The parent is pushing for the coach of the football team to collaborate with coaches from other towns played to dedicate a play in each game where this student can take part in the game, but not be tackled. By law, the student who is sent out of district is not allowed to get off the bus (that brings him back in district for football practice) alone. Therefore, the parent is asking that the district pay a staff member to stay late to aid in this student getting to football practice. In this particular case, it seems the parent is more determined to have the student on the team than the actual student is determined to play football, and there is too much parental involvement. I felt this situation was closely related to this weeks discussion. On the contrary, there are definitely cases where the child study team and district wishes the parent/parents were more involved in assisting in a collaborative effort to benefit the student. Some types of conflicting interests that may exist between a parent, school psychologist, and school district could be in regards to sending a student with a disability out of district. A parent may feel it would benefit their child to send them out of district, where as the district may feel they can accommodate, in order to keep their cost down. A school psychologist could be stuck in the middle, or on either side – agreeing with the parent and going against the district he/she is working in, or agreeing with his/her district and disagreeing with the parent. At this point, according to PRISE guidelines, it would be best to communicate with the district and CTS, and resort to complaint resolution, mediation, and due process hearing if necessary.

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

Alison Stratthaus said...

School Psychologists, throughout their career have to constantly juggle between what they ideally want for a student and several, sometimes, combatable variables; such as: what is available in the constraints of their school district, what services are available, and what the parents are willing to agree to. The blog leaders mentioned how a School Psychologist may be constrained by many different restrictions. These restrictions are absolutely difficult, but they all shouldn’t be looked at as a burden, instead a useful structure under which School Psychologists can assist each student.
Giselle brings up a good point that these laws and regulations have been put into place to enhance, help, and regulate the system as a whole. As bothersome as they may seem, they are there for a purpose. Hopefully they don’t hinder the intent of School Psychologist too much and instead, provide safe guidelines in which they can help students.
In regards to parental involvement, I feel the integration of school psychologist, teacher and parents is a good and necessary combination. It is valuable to get different perspectives from each group, because they all have different insights, knowledge and different experiences with the child. A child may behave or perform academically very different in a home setting than in school. The discrepancy is a valued piece of information for students education plan. I was also excited to learn that N.J.A.C. 6A:14, SPECIAL EDUCATION encourages schools to provide joint training activities for parents as well as special education personnel. It is essential to educate the parent as much as possible so that there is consistency at school as well as in the home. Teachers and parents attending the same training activities could help in the two parties being on the same page and agreeing more on IEP’s. If the parents have access to the same resources the parents have, they might be able to see how some of the things mandated in the IEP could be beneficial to their child and be more willing to sign.

New Jersey Department of Education. (2006). Chapter 6A:14, Special Education.

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

Rachel schneider said...

Although I agree that parents should be involved in the IEP process and there are regulations according to N.J.A.C. 6A:14, Special Education that need to be followed, what room does it leave for the school psychologist to implement the most effective intervention? As Jessica M. proved with her experience in her placement, even when the parent thinks they have their child's best interest in mind and means well, they are seeing their child from a less objective view point than a school psychologist. According to Peacock, Ervin, Daly III and Merrell (2010), the school psychologist is also a data consultant, so their intervention plans are coming from a place based on research and theory where the parents might interpret the school psychologists plan as completely theory and biased. I think more educational services should be put in place for the parents and families of students with disabilities. Even then though you will still have parents who do not want their children to be seen as “different” and will refuse the best educational options for them. When it comes to N.J.A.C. 6A:14, Special Education I agree with Giselle. I think there needs to be regulations in the field of school psychology because although we ideally like to think everyone in the profession is competent, like any other profession this is surely not the case. I feel N.J.A.C. 6A:14, Special Education guidelines are put in place as less of a restriction and “rules” but to be for the best interest of the student. It outlines what service need to be provided for children with all different disabilities and how they need to be funded. For example the .J.A.C. 6A:14, Special Education guidelines state, “On a case-by-case basis, the use of school-purchased assistive technology devices in a student's home or in other settings is required if the IEP team determines that the student needs access to those devices in order to receive a free, appropriate public education”, this statement is making sure the student gets the technology needed and is paid by the school. I do not believe this will affect the school psychologist’s intervention in any way as long as they have the child’s best interest in mind and not school politics. Other guidelines that are less specific to the child and more to the CST need to be looked at from a view-point of this is what is best for the student.

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.

New Jersey Department of Education. (2006). Chapter 6A:14, Special Education.

Rozanna Shindelman said...

PRISE definitely grants a lot of parental involvement in a child’s Individualized Education Plan. Children under the age of 18 are unable to objectively decide what is best for them. Also, in most cases they are financially dependent on their parents. Therefore it is essential for parents to be actively involved in their child’s IEP. As far as conflicting roles, I agree with Rachel that parents typically do not see their children objectively and furthermore some parents may experience denial. However, they do see their children outside of school and in a freer environment. Parents have a better sense of their child’s personality. Also, many children are more open with their parents about their wants and needs than they are with school personnel. For these reasons I believe parents serve a great purpose in being a part of the child’s IEP. If parents cannot be reached or do not respond to requests for involvement, the school district may proceed with their proposals for intervention. Children who do not have parents, for various reasons, are assigned a surrogate parent to represent them. What I find controversial about the assignment of a surrogate parent is that a criminal background check is only performed in cases where the parent is compensated. It is crucial for background checks to be performed regardless. It is unfair to the child if a person who has drug abuse issues, for instance, is the one on whom their educational decisions rely.

Rozanna Shindelman said...

In response to the question on ethics, it is evident that the school psychologists has a substantial amount of ethical guidelines to adhere to both at work and independently. A school psychologist is a full time job inside and outside of the school system. However, these guidelines are by no means irrelevant. Every described responsibility has a clear contribution to an effective learning environment and the overall well-being of people despite differences.


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

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

udoka nwigwe said...

I think in any profession there will be some restrictions on how far we go when providing service to an individual. This is especially true when it comes to the profession of a school psychologist. I personally think that these restrictions are put in place to protect the individuals we serve. As school psychologist we will be working mainly with children and we do not want to practice things that are not part of our job description. Sometimes we may think that going around these restrictions may be beneficial for the child, but in a lot of cases this may not be true. We need to be mindful about the information we put out and how we put it out because at the end of the day, these faculty members look to us as the experts in our field. We can do a lot of harm to a child if we are not thinking about the quality of service we are providing to them. In the book where it talks about selecting academic interventions, it states “the danger in being overly confident about an intervention is that an ineffective intervention has potential to create disappointment in our clients and, worse yet, may actually cause harm by delaying or denying appropriate services…pg115” Peacock, G. G., Ervin, R. A., Daly III, E. J., & Merrell, K. W. (2010). I do not find anything wrong about being confident in the work you do, but we cannot let this get in the way of the important decisions we must make when it comes determining a child’s academic future. The restrictions allow us to think clearly and not allow us to over step our boundaries as professionals.

As far as parent involvement, I truly believe that it depends on the district you work in. I have had the privilege of witnessing this first hand through my job. My Job allows me to go into different districts throughout the year and I can see how the level of parental involvement changes from district to district. Working in a district where the socioeconomic status is high, you will see too much parent involvement and it is usually not for a good cause. Some of the parents in these districts are totally against having their child classified, which I can understand, but if your child is exhibiting issues that are hindering his or her academic growth then there has to be some consideration into this. At times, the over involvement will disrupt the School psychologist from doing its job, which is to make sure all students achieve social and academic success.

In some districts where the socioeconomic status is very low, I see less parent involvement. Some parents fail to show up for their child’s IEP meetings and in worse cases do not even know that their child is classified. The parents are not educated in this field and on how involved they can be when it comes to having a child who is classified. Not being a part in the IEP process, and having all power vested in the CST can sometimes be detrimental to the child’s success as well.

Parents have every right to be involved with their child’s education, but at the same time I think there should be a balance of parental involvement. The parent should have trust in the in the school personal that their child is being taken care and the school personal should be mindful that this is not just some child I am serving, but a parents child. I believe the school psychologist as the great problem solver can make this balance happen.

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.

Keri Georgewitz said...

I have been introduced to PRISE in my students with disabilities class. I have a very hard time disagreeing with the rights that parents have. If my child had a disability I would want to know my rights and to be as involved for my child as possible. Unfortunately, not all parents are very knowledgeable about disabilities or do not necessarily care as much as they should. Moments will arise when staff will wish that parents did not have all the rights they do because they may misuse them. However, for concerned, involved, willing to learn parents, I believe that they deserve to have such rights and hopefully will use them to their full advantage in the best interest of the child. Although parents may experience some denial or have a hard time dealing with the decisions that are being made for their child they do have advantages that school professionals do not have. They know their child better than anyone else does, personally, and knows how they act when they are not at school. So when they are included in so many parts of the child’s educational planning, they actually have a great amount of input they could add as well. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and it is not always a positive situation. It is important the parents work with the school psychologist and other school staff to make the best decisions possible for the child.


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

Rozanna Shindelman said...

I want to add that I agree with Udoke on the great influence the school psychologist has on the future of every referred child. Although a lot of a school psychologists time is spent working with children, they also spent a considerable amount of time with other CST and RTI members discussing certain cases, what the next step is, and gathering information from different school personnel in order to make an informed decision about where the child stands and what intervention plan needs to be put in place. They take on the role as a data consultant and guide the RTI team in selecting measures from a bank of available measure,pg36” Peacock, G. G., Ervin, R. A., Daly III, E. J., & Merrell, K. W. (2010). Being that school psychologists hold this responsible position, they must be careful not to over qualify themselves and engage strictly in actions for which they are educated and certified. When working with parents it is their duty to thoroughly explain what they are capable of and not to misguide the parent into thinking they are qualified to make decisions which they are not.

Also, I find what Udoke said about socio-economic status of parents and the difference it makes in their participation extremely interesting. I still believe that parents not only deserve to be but need to be a part of the RTI team when it comes to their child and I feel that the school district should push them to be as much as they can. If a parent never responds and is completely oblivious to the child's needs, it can be very damaging to the child and needs to be addressed. The school district should look into why the parent is so lackadaisical about their child's education. It could be that something really serious is going on at home for which the school might need to contact ACS.
When it comes to RTI, all actions must be taken with the child's best interest in mind. If a parent is not responsive it is the responsibility of the school to find proper representation for the child.

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.

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





Danielle Territo said...

I agree with Udoka's comment regarding the lower socioeconomic status of the child's parents and their participation in the IEP process. At the school I am completing my practicum hours, the socioeconomic status of many of the children's parents is typically low. The school psychologist that I am working with informed me that the parents of these children usually do not have any interest in their child's IEP or need for special education services. On my first day I attended an IEP meeting in which the parents never came to the meeting, even though several outreach attempts had been made to notify the parents of the meeting. If the parents are not interested in the well-being of their child at school, it can be possible that the child is not receiving the proper educational support at home (for example: helping with homework, being reinforced to study). It is unfortunate that the school psychologist and CST can help to only a certain degree, the other half of the support needs to come from the child's parents/guardians.

Sean Latino said...

Wow Giselle, I really like how you point out that the evolution of the field of school psychology has led us to the point of regulation ad standardization because at the inception of the practice most "common sense," intervention methods and guidelines needed addressing. Looking at the N.J.A.C. 6A:14 from a historical standpoint allows one to fully appreciate the extensiveness of the document and definitely gives the school psychologist an ethical path to follow during practice.

Sean Latino said...

Jessica, I really like your point regarding the School psychologist beng caught in the middle of the transfer of a student. I feel that the parents must have final say as they are the tax-paying caregivers to the child in need. The school may stand to earn more money by accommodating such a child, however the decision is ultimately up to the parent and such action will only take place if the parent of makes a legitimate claim for transferring their child. The football case is definitely an interesting one and may highlight the point that sometimes a parent should be limited in their ability to sway important decisions.

Jenny Pagonis said...

I do think that parents put a good deal of trust in the ethical integrity of school professionals, and so a psychologist should take precaution when dealing with potential miscommunication amongst different parties. At the most basic level, all parties need to be notified when any potential testing "talk" is made, and I think that keeping a parent aware would not be intimidating or overwhelming to a parent in the least bit, as parents usually have the integrity of their child's education in mind. I agree with the usefulness of joint training activities for parents and special education teachers alike; this is such a great opportunity for both parties to adhere to the same policies at hand. I agree with Rosanna, that if, and when, a parent is not responsive to a school psychologist's noted efforts, then the psychologist needs to find an appropriate intervention for the child.

New Jersey Department of Education. (2006). Chapter 6A:14, Special Education.