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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

8 comments:

drkitzie said...



Lisa brings up a good point about the availability of frequent re-testing in her practicum. For school psychologists with heavy case or schools with a large popular loads it is difficult to test often and therefore difficult to track progress so accurately. In a situation such as the school Lisa is in, the CST is able to answer the 4th question, "Is what we are doing working" with accurate and current data.

Rozanna brings up an an important issue: operationally defining the problem. All problems not only need to be identified, but defined in a systematic way so the progress can be accurately evaluated. It's not enough to simply answer the 1st question, "What is the problem" but define it in a way that the entire child study team, teacher, and parents, are working with the same definition of the problem so a clear intervention can be planned.

drkitzie said...

Author:
Udoka Nwigwe
Posted Date:
December 1, 2013 7:59 AM
I think the most important process is defining what the problem is with the student. Without defining the problem, it would be difficult to continue on to the next step. Each step has to be done in sequential order to produce effective results. I also think that all questions should be added into the problem-solving model. Taking one question out of the model will again produce ineffective results. Each questions has its own way of contributing to the problem-solving model and when all questions are answered it will produce effective results for the student.
Author:
Udoka Nwigwe
Posted Date:
December 1, 2013 8:27 AM
I feel that the fast-paced atmosphere produces ineffective data. The reason why is because there is a process to everything we do in school and some steps take longer than others to complete due to the type of information being collected. If we are rushing through each step because people want it ASAP, then we will have individuals who cut corners just to get that information in quickly. In the fast-paced environment the data will most likely be there due to strict deadlines, but is the data really showing effective results or results that were just rushed? Everybody wants results and they want it fast, but understanding how the results are obtained should put things in perspective when evaluating the data. There are so many steps that we must follow in order to get the results that we want and this process takes time. Having time to complete each step will produce effective results, which will then allow you to be a lot more confident when sharing the data with colleagues and parents.
Author:
Jessica Maneri
Posted Date:
December 1, 2013 11:02 AM
Danielle, I agree that all questions must be followed in sequential order for the intervention to be effective for the student. I also see step number two just as important as step one. Although we cannot make any type of plan without knowing what the problem actually is, it is extremely important to know why it is that this problem occurs, for example, what stimuli may be enhancing certain problem behaviors. Like we talked about in class with baby-sitting children, problem behaviors may occur in specific environments and/or in the presence of specific adults, etc. We definitely need to identify the problem, but if we better understand why the problem is occurring or what is contributing to the cause of this issue, the more likely the intervention plan we create will work to target those problem behaviors.
Author:
Jessica Maneri
Posted Date:
December 1, 2013 11:13 AM
Udoka, I agree that taking out one question of the model would produce ineffective results. As I told Danielle, I think step two, if not as important as all other steps, is one of the most important, since it allows for problem-solvers to focus on what stimuli may be enhancing certain problem behaviors. If specific stimuli can be identified, you are already on your way to knowing what it is that needs to be reduced/altered in the environment, and will be more likely to construct an effective intervention plan.

drkitzie said...

Author:
Rachel Schneider
Posted Date:
December 1, 2013 5:51 PM
Udoka, I agree with you that ineffective data can be produced in a fast-paced atmosphere but based on what I have been seeing at my practicum, fast-paced is in high demand. The majority of decision making I have seen at my practicum is not based on evidence-based data. Most issues come up during meetings with parents and teachers who want a quick fix to the students problems. There has been times when an intervention idea has been brought up and it is mentioned in the future we will check the child's grades, homework, attendance, etc. to see if the intervention is working but the actual decision is not based on data. The school year is not very long so using a fast-fix intervention that is not based on data can be detrimental. Sure, the intervention might work but if it doesn't then more time has been wasted and the student is falling behind when we could have been helping them if we took the time to discuss evidence-based data with parents and teachers.
Author:
Jessica Maneri
Posted Date:
December 1, 2013 8:17 PM
It is definitely interesting to see how districts have their own ways of functioning/operate very differently. Most of the decision making that I have seen at my practicum comes from test results/consulting with the students/parents on their feelings of what they believe would work best -- whether to put a child into special education, to use replacement subjects as a resource, the SIL program as a resource, transition strategies class as a resource, etc. Most of the meetings I have seen with parents, teachers, and CST seem to have the long term goal listed as the most important goal -- they are interested in what is happening along the way, but the real focus is their hope for the student by the time the end of the school year comes. While this is a great vision, I agree with Rachel that the decision making must be evidence based. So far at my practicum I have seen evidence based practice being used. Without evidence based resources it becomes somewhat of a trial and error game, and time can certainly be wasted. I have seen how the fast-paced atmosphere pressures CST members, guidance counselors, etc. to act quickly, but I think (specifically in the district I shadowed in), the interventions have been effective and the decision making has been more so evidence based than not.
Author:
Sean Latino
Posted Date:
December 1, 2013 8:40 PM
Udoka, I would have to agree that picking out the problem and eliminating all other variables is the most important factor in the problem-solving model because without understanding the root of the child's scholastic issues then all data-analysis becomes moot. An evidence based intervention would be of no help if the problem was not clearly identified, however this can take some trial and error and with the entire problem-solving-model this trail and error process is made easier and more effective.

drkitzie said...

Author:
Sean Latino
Posted Date:
December 1, 2013 8:52 PM
I would have to say that a fast paced atmosphere causes more effective results and disagree with Udoka. If we take too long of a time to make a choice for an intervention, we may risk allowing a child to fall further behind or become more entrenched in his/her mal-adaptive behavior. By having quick paced decision making then professionals on the CST, parents and teachers have less time to over-think and over-analyze the problem and are forced to choose an already established intervention rather than attempting to come up with their own, un-tested intervention. Also, by following the problem solving model step by step and utilizing the efficiency of RTI, one can swiftly implement well researched and well documented interventions. I have not witnessed such efficiently in my practicum, however, I feel that if the CST focused more on using evidence-based models they would save time and help their students more as they would be receiving the latest and greatest in school psychological services. A matter of weeks could mean the difference of a child's developmental course, his/her self esteem, and overall well being therefore decision must be made fast and effectively.

Author:
Udoka Nwigwe
Posted Date:
December 1, 2013 9:24 PM
I agree as well that all decision making should be evidence-based. Evidence-based decisions allow for the best chance in supporting the students who need help. Unfortunately, time is our biggest enemy when trying to implement a plan. My practicum site practices using evidence-based decisions, but certain teachers at the school make it difficult for CST to do their job effectively. Teachers want a quick fix and demand that their problems get solved within a week, but they fail to realize that this is unreasonable. I witnessed a teacher threatening CST members at my practicum site that if they do not fix the problem in her class within the week, she will go to the principal and demand that this particular student get removed. Luckily,CST had the support of the principal because he understood that the teachers request were unrealistic and encourage the teacher to wait for CST to make the appropriate plan for this particular student. The teacher was upset, but because the principal understood that decision should not be rushed, this student would now get an appropriate plan that will based on his needs.
Author:
Jessica Maneri
Posted Date:
December 1, 2013 9:31 PM
Just to play devils advocate, I agree with but also disagree with a few things mentioned here -- I agree that the fast paced atmosphere aids in reducing the amount of time adults and CST members go back and forth and therefore reduces the amount of time allowed for the child to fall even further behind, however the fast paced atmosphere may mean adults and CST members look at the problem at a first quick glance and say "this is it, this is what's causing it" where as if they were to look more closely and not be in such a rush, the findings may be a bit different. So, yes to less time over-analyzing a problem, but rushing through some steps may lead them to falsely define an issue or even why the issue may be occurring.
Additionally, utilizing RTI does not always mean swiftly implementing interventions. The RTI model does take time, since it requires universal screening, then moving to tier 2 if necessary, and finally tier 1 if needed. Depending on how quick the psychologist works, a couple of months could have gone by before a student is actually receiving the support he/she needs. If you think a matter of weeks means the difference of a child's developmental course, self-esteem, and overall well being, what about a couple of months?! Depending on a psychologists caseload, there may be students who end up waiting for their intervention. Just posing another perspective!

drkitzie said...

Author:
Lisa Kleitsch
Posted Date:
December 2, 2013 12:13 PM
The majority of the decision making at my practica site is largely based on what is required of a child's individual IEP. The CST works diligently to make sure every child is getting what he or she needs. However, they are well-prepared to handle a new issue, and often do in the course of a day. What is exceptional about my internship is the school only goes to second grade. They generally deal with a very young population. Therefore, there can be a lot of change developmentally for these students. Improvements can be seen in a matter of months or weeks,and, naturally, sometimes incrementally very small. They consistently re-test to see in which direction the child is headed. Hence, a lot of their decision making is evidence-based using assessment tests such as the Batelle and the WISC. I have only been a part of one schoolwide intervention, and that was a mandated anti-bullying program.

I believe the most important question in the problem solving model is What is the problem. Accurate Identification of the issue is critical to the other questions but also for administering help to the student in need as quickly as possible. Additionally, identifying the problem accurately saves time in trying several interventions. That's why the screening process is so important.

I think what is positive about the Heartland approach is the collaborative nature inherent in the process. It is already an element of the CST system but one that needs to be continually refined and developed. However, there not being specific rules for students to move from one phase to the next is not very productive. Additionally, there is little opportunity for the Heartland model to have a more global function, whereas RTI is designed to support this issue. It seems to me the goal of RTI is to implement interventions that have more than one immediate application, wherein improvements can be seen and measured in more than one educational environment, and not only the student's classroom. Heartland does not seem to address this.

Lisa Kleitsch
Rozanna Shindelman
Posted Date:
December 2, 2013 7:10 PM
Every question in the problem solving approach is equally important because you cannot go to the next step without answering the previous question. I agree with everyone who said that defining the problem is the most important step because without knowing what the problem is how will we know what to do about it and what interventions to implement? For example if the problem is disruptive behavior in a classroom it is important to operationally define this issue so that you (the school psychologist) or another person will know exactly what to look for when observing the child and when deciding whether an intervention is effective or not. I also think understanding the reason why the problem is happening is equally as important. As we talked about in class, two children who are exhibiting the same behavior do not necessarily have to be doing it for the same reasons. It is important to not simply assume the cause of a problem and to really understand the situation of each student in order to tailor an intervention to his or her individual needs.
The school I did my practicum in used the RTI method where students were identified at the universal level and given group and individual interventions. This school is divided into different academies so every Tuesday morning the Child Study Team meets to discuss the students with IEPs. Information is gathered from each of the personnel on whether they have seen any improvement and a decision is made whether to take away an intervention, keep it as is, or make adjustments to it.

drkitzie said...

In response to your question regarding the implementation of the problem-solving model, I believe the most important question would be "what is the problem." To determine the assistance that a child needs within an academic setting, the most influential step would be to first determine the exact problem that the child is facing. Without this particular information, the questions that follow this question would not be able to be answered adequately. An appropriate intervention needs to be implemented and an informed decision about the selection of an intervention could not be accomplished if the child's problem is not identified.

I also believe that all of the questions are essential in the problem-solving model, and one without the other would not be efficient. For example, we can find out what the problem is, but then we would need to know why the problem is occurring, and then what to do about the problem. If we skipped over any of the questions, that could be detrimental to the decision that is made about a child.

-Danielle Territoblog

Giselle Batista said...

Relative to all the shared response, it seems that we can all agree on the fact that fast-paced environments make it difficult to ascertain most informative data. As we previously discussed in class, it sometimes seems that interventions are discussed informally, as a quick fit to the problem. At my placement, I often saw teacher come into the office of the school psychologist, and present a problem. The school psychologist would suggest different things that could be done to address the issue. The teacher and school psychologist would agree that they would discuss progress/lack of profess if any changes were noted. Throughout this process I saw, I didn't see any documentation noted, although the school psychologist did eventually obtain information on the student's status. Therefore, I think that school psychologist seem to adapt to this fast pace to the best of their ability. However, I could see how easily it could be to not follow up with teacher, or undermining the students that don't cause any overt behavioral issues.

Keri said...

During my practicum experience I have witnessed decisions being made quickly. So far, I have noticed that test results are readily available because he does not need to send them anywhere until he is done using them. However, it is questionable whether the decisions he makes are always based on evidence-based data. In one IEP meeting I sat in on, the CST created a plan for a student from brain storming and working together to come up with the best possible plan of action. They did mention that it is not a path typically traveled and I do not believe there is any evidence data to support it. However, they were primarily concerned with the child’s best interest and did what they full hearted thought was best for his specific situation.
In response to the question of which part of the problem-solving model is most important, I would have to say the first question is the most influential. If we do not know what the exact and correct problem is, we cannot form a proper plan of action from there. In order to provide the best care and services, we must accurately understand what the problem is we are dealing with. Once we know what the problem is we can determine why it is occurring, what should be done about it and if what we choose to do is working. Knowing what the problem is in the foundation to figuring out the rest of the questions in this method.