Tuesday, November 15, 2011
You see almost every test we administer is hierachical in nature meaning, there is usually some kind of full-scale score with index scores below that and in some cases even another level such as subtest scores. This makes sense for the average IQ test however, even behavior rating scales have this same structure. Think about the BASC-2, there are composite scores as well as index scores.
While most manuals and test authors tell us to interpret all of these scores as if they are equally meaningful, there are some problems with this approach. The first has to do with construct validity, which gets into the whole FA debate. The basic jist is that the test author has to prove that each index or subtest score can stand alone and be interpreted. They also have to demonstrate that these scores account for some kind of additional meaningful variance beyond the full-scale, and this is incremental validity. You see all of these lower scores are compiled to create the full scale score or index. So what you actually are doing is double interpreting the same data in a sense. Now this is fine if we can demonstrate that parsing apart the full scale into various unique units (e.g. indexes or factors) provides us with additional predictive variance that is missed when we interpret the full scale alone. The problem is most studies out there show that with IQ tests, they don't. I will try and post some articles later on but the take away is that school psychologists should really think about all the time and money they may be wasting on these enormous IQ batteries that get bigger with each revision. The question is how much utility are you getting out of those
The whole idea behind SPED for these kids is that they receive quality remedial and compensatory interventions to scaffold their academic skills so that they close that gap between them and the expected performance in their general education classroom. Here is where we see the failure because on average, this kiddo in SPED actually gets worse....not better! This leads us to the distinction between compliance and outcomes. All of this regulatory effort over the past two decades has been focused on compliance (e.g. getting your IEP completed). Although the intent of congress was to move more toward outcomes when they merged IDEA with NCLB in 2004, there is still no requirement in the law with respect to outcomes in SPED. So unlike your neighborhood school, which is held accountable for student outcomes under NCLB (barely, but that is a whole different topic), a district SPED can get in trouble for not completing paperwork correctly but not if a child makes absolutely no tangible progress in 8 years in said program for their specific disability classification. That is unless you as a parent can prove that the district implemented an IEP program that was not intended to be beneficial to your child.......almost impossible to do with existing case law. Something seems wrong with this picture.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Thursday, April 1, 2010
10. The ability to finally encounter statistics without fear (it only took 4 classes).
9. Working in an environment where you can be heavily educated but without pretense; except for those trips to the district office.
8. Encountering colleagues and researchers who are truly brilliant and challenge your thinking and your practice to become better.
7. As much as some of your kiddos are a pain in the you know what, most of them are a blast to be around.
6. Parents who are truly appreciative of the work that you try to do for them; on the flip side, administrators who have your back for those parents that don't.
5. Every day having the opportunity to help a child.
4. Getting the opportunity to reshape current practice so that school psychologists are more involved in daily instructional practices and less involved in traditional assessment witchcraft.
3. Having a job which requires you to think about learning on a day to day basis gives you a whole new appreciation for the ability to do so.
2. Challenging the status quo within public education.
1. Everyday getting to play the role of lawyer, administrator, teacher, counselor, school psycho, surrogate parent, social worker, and correctional officer. Every kid's dream.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
The first thing I would say is get in touch with some psychs who currently work in the district or have previously worked in the district if you can. Get a feel for what really goes on in the district. The standard interview is all smokescreen where everyone embodies the Lake Wobegon effect (i.e. our department is great, always has been, and we are embody best practices in all, etc.), direct contact with current employees is where you will find out what reality looks like on the ground.
The second thing that I would say is that with the recession there is just some flat out shenanigans going on in districts advertising positions knowing that the new hire is going to be layed off and not telling them during the interview process. I even interviewed for a 4 week substitute position where they wanted me to complete over 20 evaluations for a psych who was going on maternity leave...and to do this they were going to pay a daily rate for a substitute teacher (which coincidentally was a quarter of the advertised rate for the same position in a district a couple of miles away at the time). The crazy thing is someone actually took that job and is probably ready to kill themselves right about now.
The third things to be prepared for is waiting......and then waiting some more. You would be surprised at how long it takes the HR beast to turn around an application for a position that needs to be filled "immediately." I don't want to name any names but a certain school has a job opening that has yet to be filled in almost 9 months. On top of that you have to navigate around these obtuse policies like one district that flew a full-time position and then reduced it to 60% after the closing date and then e-mailed everyone that applied to re-apply for the new 60% position, as their application materials on file would no longer suffice. Another district has flown a part-time position twice in the last 6 months and has notified applicants after the position has closed each time (after a 6 week period) that the district wouldn't be able to fund the position at the time. Methinks that districts should look no further then their own HR departments first when considering remedies for deficits and incompetence.
A parting thought, I know that it is desperate out there and that jobs are scarce. However, the reality is that you are only going to be as good as the system that you work in supports you. If you take the first job you get offered and come into a system that is completely dysfunctional (see substitute position listed above), your going to hate your job, hate the kiddos you work with, and have one foot out the door to begin with.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
Entering kindergarten is a big step for any child. Parents can help children adjust by anticipating their needs and preparing them for their new school environment. Ideally transition efforts should start the spring prior to your child’s entrance into kindergarten. Most schools have a day where parents can bring their children in for a visit and for the parents to learn more about the school. The goal is to familiarize your child and yourself with the teacher, classroom, and school; provide the teacher opportunities to “get to know” your child and plan more effectively before he becomes a member of the class; and provide opportunities to become acquainted with the new teacher, class and school policies and procedures, as well as future classmates and their parents. This will, in turn, help the classroom teacher be ready for your child.
What to do before your child begins Kindergarten:
Set up an initial meeting with the teacher. Although this can take place at school, home visits give your child the chance to meet the new teacher in his own environment. This can reduce anxiety later and strengthen the sense of home-school connection, and allow the teacher the opportunity to get a firsthand sense of your child’s home environment.
If possible, plan a visit to the new school that includes spending time with the teacher, exploring the classroom, and playing on the playground.
Let the teacher know about your child’s interests and strengths. Be specific. It will help the teachers know how to engage your child in the early weeks.
Share any concerns or special considerations regarding your child, such as certain fears or food allergies.
Use pictures and/or stories to familiarize your child with their new classroom, school and teacher.
Be sure your child is in good physical and mental health. Schedule doctor and dental checkups early. Discuss with the pediatrician any concerns you have over your child’s emotional or psychological development. The doctor can help determine if concerns are normal, age appropriate issues or that require further assessment. Children benefit if potential issues are identified and addressed early. (See “Considerations Regarding Children With Special Needs below)
If your child has attended preschool, encourage communication between Kindergarten and preschool teachers, particularly if the child has special needs or particular issues coping in the classroom.
How to collaborate with the school once your child begins Kindergarten:
Don’t over-react if the first few days are a little rough. Young children in particular may experience separation anxiety or shyness initially but teachers should be trained to help them adjust. If your child cries at drop off, remain calm and positive. Do not linger but rather reassure your child that he will be okay and that you will be back soon. If your child has a negative reaction for a long period of time, meet with the teacher and school psychologist to develop a plan for transition time.
During the first few weeks of school, teachers and parents should share information about how they think the child is adjusting to school. Email is often an effective way to communicate.
If possible, volunteer in the classroom at least periodically throughout the year. Doing so helps children feel that their school and family life are linked. Being in the classroom is also a good way to develop a relationship with your child’s teacher and classmates, and to get firsthand exposure to their classroom environment and routine. Most kindergarten teachers welcome even occasional parent help.
Check your child’s backpack daily for notes and fliers. These include important information and communication from the school.
Supporting learning before and after your child begins Kindergarten:
Establish a schedule at home and stick to it. Children benefit from structure and this can help them better adjust to Kindergarten schedule.
Work with your child on content related to colors, numbers, letters, etc. It is important to make the experience fun and playful. Preschool and Kindergarten teachers are excellent resources for ideas. Additional resources are listed below.
Provide experiences with books, rhyming, singing, coloring, cutting, paying attention, sharing and sitting. Again, preschool and Kindergarten teachers can provide suggestions for fun and interesting ways to provide these experiences. The resources list below can also help with ideas.
Find out what the Kindergarten classroom routines are and regularly discuss them with your child. When appropriate, practice the routines by acting them out at home. For example, you can help your child practice waiting his turn, raising his hand, asking to go the bathroom, and asking a classmate to play.
Plan to spend extra quiet one-on-one time with your child during the first weeks. Keep the family schedule as simple as possible to allow for your child’s adjustment needs.
Arrange play dates with a new friend (or friends) from school. Strengthening social bonds with classmates helps your child build a sense of familiarity and comfort level in school.
Limit television and videogame time and increase book experiences.
Be aware of differences in children’s development and avoid making comparisons to siblings and other children.
Considerations Regarding Children With Special Needs
Transitioning to a Kindergarten that is governed by IDEA guidelines for eligibility and an Individual Education Plan (IEP) may require some adjustment. You will need to familiarize yourself with the law, the rights of your child, and the school’s particular procedures. Schools can help by providing clear information (in multiple languages) online and in print and making it easy for parents to contact the relevant staff (i.e., school psychologist). This information is often on the school’s website but, if not, call the main office and ask for office of special education or pupil services. Beginning this process prior to the start of school and with the goal of ongoing home-school collaboration is important.
Considerations Regarding Children who are English Language Learners
Children who are English Language Learners may need more time acclimating to the school setting. It is important for the school to provide parents with materials in their native language and to arrange for interpreters when they visit. If these are not yet available, parents should request them. Parents who do not speak English should also feel comfortable bringing a family member or friend to meetings to help interpret. Parents can also provide teachers with information about their culture and how the child will respond to the classroom. Parents are encouraged to continue speaking the family’s native language in the home.
Considerations Regarding Children Who Did Not Attend Preschool
Children who did not attend preschool may need additional time practicing a schedule and interacting with peers. More than one visit to the classroom may also be appropriate for these children.
Mrs. Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten, Joseph Slate & Ashley Wolff.
The Night Before Kindergarten, Natasha Wing & Julie Durrell.
Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! Nancy Carlson.
What Do We Say? What Do We Do? Vital Solutions for Children's Educational Success and Creating Positive Home School Connections, Dorothy Rich.Online Resources
Top 10 Signs of a Good Kindergarten: www.naeyc.org
Tools You Can Use: www.nea.org/parents/tools/index.htmlhttp://www.education.com/grade/kindergarten/
Getting a new school year off to a good start can influence children’s attitude, confidence, and performance socially and academically. The transition from August to September can be a hurdle, even for children who are eager to return to class. Everyone must adjust to the change in levels of activity, structure, and pressures associated with school life. Parents can help their children and family manage the increased pace of life by planning ahead, being realistic, and maintaining a positive attitude. Here are a few suggestions to help ease the transition and promote a successful school experience.
Before School Starts
Be sure your child is in good physical and mental health.
Review all of the information sent by the school as soon as it arrives.
Mark important dates on your calendar, such as back to school night and deadlines for signing up for school clubs or handing in forms.
Keep copies of all your child’s health and emergency information for reference.
Re-establish bedtime and mealtime routines at least 1 week before school starts.
Encourage your child to ease into the learning routine with quiet games, puzzles, flash cards, coloring, or reading as early morning activities instead of watching television.
Visit school with your child, particularly if your child is young or starting in a new school.
Designate and clear a place for homework and studying.
Select a spot to keep backpacks and lunch boxes, as well as a place to put important notices and information sent home for you to see.
Freeze a few easy dinners so that meal planning and preparation will not add to household pressures during the first week of school.
The First Few Weeks
Clear your own schedule and be available to your children.
Be prepared for the return to school:
Make lunches the night before. Have older children help.
Set alarm clocks.
Leave plenty of extra time.
Be sure your child knows what to do after school including where to go or who to call if you are not home.
Send your child’s teacher a brief note letting the teacher know that you are interested in getting regular feedback on how and what your child is doing in school. Let them know the best way to contact you.
Familiarize yourself with all school professionals: the principal and front office personnel; school psychologist, counselor, and social worker; the reading specialist, speech therapist, and school nurse; lunchroom and playground aides; and the after-school activities coordinator.
Avoid over scheduling extracurricular activities.
Do not overreact. Even if your child seems distraught at first, they will be fine.
Remain calm and positive. Model optimism and confidence for your child. Reassure them that you love them and will be there at the end of the school day.
Reinforce your child’s ability to cope. Give them a few strategies to manage a difficult situation on his or her own.
Help them identify and connect with at least one friend.
Volunteer in the classroom.
Get help if serious concerns arise. Contact the school to meet with your child’s teachers and school psychologist. They can offer support that will help identify and reduce the problem, as well as suggest resources within the school and community to help you address the situation.
Remember, children are wonderfully resilient. With your support and encouragement, they will thrive throughout their school experience.
Adapted from: “Back to School Transitions: Tips for Parents,” Ted Feinberg & Katherine C. Cowan, Helping Children at Home and School II: Handouts for Families and Educators, NASP, 2004. The full handout is available online at www.nasponline.org/families.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
First, in the introduction the panel lists some foundations for which the RTI model is based upon the first of which is that all students can and will learn if given the right instruction, this is followed up with the contradictory statement of one the three purposes of assessment in RTI, in order to determine what area's students cannot achieve in. I am not a rocket scientist but it would seam to me that if all children can learn there would be no reason to conduct this type of assessment.
More importantly, in outlining eligibility requirements for SLD in an RTI model the panel allows for an alternative method of assessment which is based on cognitive, academic, or other strengths and weaknesses present which relate to the achievement deficit. Validity issues aside, the key word is relate which is ripe for abuse. That means that if clinicians choose this option they must justify that the areas of cognitive weakness must naturally relate to the achievement area in question. However, why are we even discussing this, there is absolutely no credible research that demonstrates that such profile and index patterns are accurate in separating LD from non-LD students. I have thoroughly talked about the validity and reliability problems of indexes and subtest analysis in other posts. Also, ipsative profile analysis in general has been thoroughly debunked in the research for decades (see anything by Joe Glutting and others). The fact is that while profiles do exist, they are not clinically significant, see the base rates in your trusty manuals.
So once again, shame on you California way to continue to perpetuate unreliable assessment practices. The good news in all of this is that Mike Vanderwood did confirm to me in a personal communication that this is not in fact the RTI document that is slated to come out later this year. This CDE document was released by this panel over a year ago (talk about bureaucracy) and the things in it that I am highlighting here led to the creation of a separate panel. So I guess the good news is that the current policy recommendations are non-binding, which should be interesting to look at when the new, and hopefully better, memo is released later this year as to whether or not it has a procedural mandate for school districts embedded in it. If it doesn't then no matter how good it is there will be many districts that continue to resist reform.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
This is a good introductory short video by one of the key figures in the Florida RTI movement that has really been well conceptualized statewide. I cannot stress enough how important these first steps of planning are as practitioners begin asking these questions at their sites. My best advice is for psychologists to access as much of the literature as they can to see which roll-out model will work best in their environment. I think an important point that Dr. Batsche makes is that RTI is about reforming general educational service delivery, it is a new way of thinking. That is a little tough for school psycho's to get their head around because that is not what we are primarily trained in.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The second edition listed "biological basis of learning" under the learning development and differences domain, which I interpret as a clear attempt to categorize the (then) emerging cognitive neuroscience trend in learning and performance. Unfortunately, as practitioner's, we now see that a decade or so later that this movement has not fulfilled its promise as a viable alternative from the discrepancy model in understanding and intervening in learning differences. I am planning a more through review of the school neuropsychology movement, suffice it to say there are several conceptual and measurement issues with this model, despite its intuitive intellectual appeal. To get back to the larger point, the third edition does not mention biological or neuropsychological underpinnings of learning within this domain of coverage.
The reason why this is so important is because it is clear that how we are trained is directly correlated to how we see learning and social problems. As a traditionalist I was trained to see problems (whether academic or social) as within-child deficits with clear biological underpinnings, and thus my role was conceptualized as that of a gatekeeper, responsible for determining whether or not a child met or did not meet eligibility standards. While those trained in RTI principals view "problems" primarily through a functional lens with specific focus on core academic deficits, for the purposes of determining how to best intervene to ameliorate those deficits. So we have to be careful to understand that the reason why a traditionalist has such a hard time understanding why an RTI proponent can approach a problem with certainty as to its environmental correlates, an RTI trained practitioner does not see the value in assessing for cause or subtype; it is simply a matter of training that creates a paradigm in which practitioner's are conditioned to see their instructional environments.
While I certainly think that all school psychologist's should be experts in psychometrics and measurement, the focus of such expertise should not be on administering assessments as much as determining what are valid and reliable assessment practices for the purpose of intervention. While training approaches that have a systems based foundation are clearly linked to better outcomes for students, relying on systems content alone will not adequately prepare a practitioner for service within a comprehensive RTI model. It is clear that in these emerging models of service delivery school psychologists will have to be prepared to intervene and consult directly on instructional decisions, as well as, validly and reliably assess multiple instructional environments within school settings. In order to do this, we have to become knowledgeable about best practices in core academic areas of teaching, a focus which is not present in most training programs. One exception to this (and their are certainly others) is the Ph.D. program at the University of Oregon which requires all graduates to specialize in a core content area of intervention (math or reading). I believe that this type of subspecialization is the right way to go for training in order for school psychologists to be relevant within the broader accountability and systems change movements within education today.