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1 THE CHANGING ROLE OF SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS IN SCHOOL WIDE MODELS OF RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION BY DENA F. LANDRY A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE RE QUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF EDUCATION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2012
2 2012 Dena F. Landry
3 To my family
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the people who have helped make this dissertation possible. I wou ld like to offer my deepest appreciation to Dr. Jean Crockett, my committee chairperson and advisor. Appreciation is also extended to my committee members, Dr. Nancy Waldron, Dr. Erica McCray, and Dr. Bernard Oliver. A special acknowledgement is extended to the supervisor of school psychologists and the six school psychologists who participated in this study. Their willingness to share their time and experiences with me was invaluable. Finally, I would like to thank my family. I am grateful to my parents for instilling a love of education and learning. I would also like to thank my husband for his incredible patience and support during this time. None of this would have been possible without all of you.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 8 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 11 Introduction to the Study ................................ ................................ ......................... 11 Background of the Problem ................................ ................................ .................... 13 Statement of the Problem ................................ ................................ ....................... 15 Purpose of the Study ................................ ................................ .............................. 16 Research Questions ................................ ................................ ............................... 16 Overview of Methods ................................ ................................ .............................. 18 Limitations/Assumptions ................................ ................................ ......................... 18 Definitions ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 19 Overview of the Dissertation ................................ ................................ ................... 21 2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ .......................... 22 Traditional Roles and Functions of School Psychologists ................................ ....... 22 Current versus Preferred Roles of School Psychologists ................................ ........ 26 Assessment ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 27 Intervention ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 27 Consultation ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 28 Classification and Identification of Specific Learning Disabilities ............................ 31 Discrepancy Model ................................ ................................ ........................... 31 Response to Intervention Model ................................ ................................ ....... 33 Expanding Roles, Competency, and Building Capacity ................................ .......... 43 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 47 3 METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 49 Overview of the Methods ................................ ................................ ........................ 49 Assumptions and Rationale for a Qualitative Design ................................ .............. 51 Type of Design ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 51 ................................ ................................ ........................... 52 Procedures ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 53 Selecting the Setting ................................ ................................ ........................ 53 Selecting the Participants ................................ ................................ ................. 55 Assurances of Confidentiality ................................ ................................ ........... 56 Issues of Entry ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 56
6 Reciprocity ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 56 Ethical Issues ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 57 Data Collection Procedures ................................ ................................ .................... 58 Interviews ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 58 Field Notes ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 58 Document Data Collection and Review ................................ ............................ 59 Data Analysis and Management Procedures ................................ .......................... 59 Basic Operations in Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ... 60 Data Management ................................ ................................ ............................ 61 Addressing Quality ................................ ................................ ........................... 61 The Qualitative Narrative ................................ ................................ ........................ 63 4 DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS ................................ ................................ ... 66 O verall Findings ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 67 Profile of Participants ................................ ................................ .............................. 67 Supervisor of School Psychologists ................................ ................................ ........ 68 Case One: Betty ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 70 Influences and Background ................................ ................................ .............. 70 Values, Culture, and Perceptions ................................ ................................ ..... 71 Roles and Responsibilities ................................ ................................ ............... 72 Needs ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 74 Case Two: Carol ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 74 Influences and Background ................................ ................................ .............. 74 Values, Culture, and Perceptions ................................ ................................ ..... 75 Roles and Responsibilities ................................ ................................ ............... 76 Needs ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 77 Case Three: David ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 77 Influences and Background ................................ ................................ .............. 77 Values, Culture, and Perceptions ................................ ................................ ..... 78 Roles and Responsibilities ................................ ................................ ............... 78 Needs ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 79 Case Four: Erin ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 80 Influences and Background ................................ ................................ .............. 80 Values, Culture, and Perceptions ................................ ................................ ..... 80 Roles and Responsibilities ................................ ................................ ............... 82 Needs ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 82 Case Five: Fran ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 8 3 Influences and Background ................................ ................................ .............. 8 3 Values, Culture, and Perceptions ................................ ................................ ..... 83 Roles and Responsibilities ................................ ................................ ............... 84 Needs ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 84 Case Six: Gail ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 85 Inf luences and Background ................................ ................................ .............. 85 Values, Culture, and Perceptions ................................ ................................ ..... 85 Roles and Responsibilities ................................ ................................ ............... 86 Needs ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 87
7 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 87 The Cross Case Analysis ................................ ................................ ....................... 87 Theme #1: Joining a Helping Profession ................................ ......................... 88 Theme #2: Coping with Changing Roles ................................ ......................... 90 Theme #3: Redefining Roles -Making It work ................................ .................. 92 Theme #4: Varying Contexts and Perceptions of Readiness .......................... 95 Theme #5: Needing Support from School and District Administr ators ............. 95 Discussion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 96 Researcher s Self Reflection ................................ ................................ .................. 97 5 CONCLUSIONS, IMPLICATIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS ......................... 101 Conclusions ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 102 Implications and Recommendations for Practice ................................ .................. 10 5 Implications for Future Research ................................ ................................ .......... 107 Concluding Statements ................................ ................................ ......................... 108 APPENDIX A COPY OF UF APPROVAL LETTER ................................ ................................ ..... 109 B INFORMED CONSENT supervisor of school psychol ogists .............................. 110 C INFORMED CONSENT school psychologists ................................ .................... 112 D INTERVIEW PROTOCOL SUPERVISOR OF SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS .... 114 E INTERVIEW PROTOCOL SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS ................................ .. 115 F DISTRICT JOB DESCRIPTIONS AND EXCERPTS OF DISTRICT MANUALS ... 116 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 126 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 13 6
8 LIST OF TABLES Table page 3 1 Dis trict demographics ................................ ................................ ......................... 64 3 2 Participant Demographics ................................ ................................ .................. 65 4 1 Categories and Themes ................................ ................................ ................... 100
9 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements fo r the Degree of Doctor of Education THE CHANGING ROLE OF SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS IN SCHOOL WIDE MODELS OF RESPONSE TO IN TERVENTION By Dena F. Landry December 2012 Chair: Jean Crockett Major: Special Education Administration The reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) to scientific, research based intervention as a means to assist in the determination of a specific learning disability (SLD). As a result, the traditional role of the school psychologist as a test administrator has changed. No longer is SLD required to be determined by the academic achievement battery. Instead, across the United States, school wide estab lished. However, these approaches to RTI can be implemented in a variety of ways and this variance in practice has led to role confusion and anxiety among school psychologists. This descriptive study was designed to examine the perceptions of school psych ologists regarding their changing roles and patterns of practice in a large school district in Florida. Qualitative methods were used and sources of data included interviews and reviews of documents and artifacts. A sense making perspective was used in thi s analysis to provide information regarding role enactment and strengthening
10 systems to meet the needs of school psychologists as they engage in implementing school wide approaches to RTI. The findings suggest these psychologists made sense of their chang ing roles by viewing themselves as members of a helping profession Each person acknowledged their professional roles have changed in recent years, and some were more comfortable than others with the se changes The evidence suggests these school psychologi sts are redefining their roles by building on personal strengths and speaking up more confidently about their professional concerns. Their readiness and preparedness for adapting to changes in their professional lives appeared to be influenced by prior exp erience, the focus of their graduate training, and their personal strengths. These practitioners identified district based professional development targeted to practical and specific needs in schools, and strong and supportive school based leadership as be ing crucial to meeting their needs in implementing RTI successfully.
11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Introduction to the Study The reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) allows states the use of a process b based intervention as a means to assist in the determination of a specific learning disability (SLD). As a result, the traditional role of the school psychologist as a test administrator has changed (Cante r, 2006) No longer is SLD required to be determined academic achievement battery. Instead, across the United States, school wide nse to intervention (RTI) are being established. However, these approaches to RTI can be implemented in a variety of ways and this variance in practice has led to role confusion and anxiety among school psychologists (Pluymert, 2008) RTI can be defined as based decision making to & VanDerHeyden, 2006, p. 3). Specifically, according to IDEA 2004, states were no longer required to consider th e existence of a significant discrepancy between intellectual ability and academic achievement and now could utilize information obtained specific learning disability exists (20 U.S.C. § 1414[b]). With regard to quality learning experiences, the goal of an educational system is to provide a safe, caring, rigorous learning environment for a diverse student body that offers multiple opportunities for success and supports stu dent achievement and
12 development (District School Board of Collier County, 2010). One objective designed to meet this goal is to ensure all students are immersed in data driven, evidence based curricular programs that provide diverse learning experiences a nd multiple opportunities to master state educational standards. Fully implementing RTI through the team based problem solving method is one strategy that is being utilized. During the problem solving process, the learning and/or behavioral needs of the st udent are matched with examining the difference between what is expected and what is occurring. The team then uses data to analyze why this discrepancy is occurring. A performance goal is determined and an intervention plan is developed. During this stage, the team decides then used to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention. This process is continual and ongoing (Florida Response to Intervention, 2011). What remains unclear is how s chool psychologists will be involved in this process. Specifically, what will be the role of the school psychologist? School psychologists must no w transform their role from one of psychometrist to something at this time. This descriptive study is designed to examine the perceptions of school psychologists regarding their roles and their patterns of practice in a large school district in Florida. The district is considered advanced in its implementation of RTI due to the fact that it was chosen by the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) as a pilot district and, as a result, received extensive training and suppor t. The goal of this study is to provide information regarding role enactment to assist school psychologists in the implementation of RTI and in adaptation to their changing roles. Federal and state
13 legislation affect the roles of all school personnel, incl uding school psychologists, and RTI represents a significant paradigm shift along with significant legislative changes. This has led to significant changes in the roles and responsibilities of school psychologists. Background of the Problem Several federa l policies have influenced the adoption of RTI. In 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) became the first major federal legislation to provide funding to public schools. This legislation was reauthorized in 2001 and became known as the No Child Left Behind Act or NCLB. The implementation of evidence based practices and the monitoring of student progress to verify effectiveness were emphasized throughout NCLB. The focus of this act was to improve the performance of all students (Brown Chids ey & Steege, 2005). Ten years after the initial enactment of the ESEA, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act ( EAHCA), or Public Law 94 142, was first passed into law in 1975. The four original purposes of the EAHCA were (a) to guarantee that child ren with disabilities had a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) that emphasized special education and related services available to them, (b) to protect the rights of identified children and their parents, (c) to assist states and local educational a gencies in providing an appropriate education, and (d) to assess and ensure the effectiveness of these efforts. In order to identify students with SLD, most states implemented an IQ achievement discrepancy formula (Smith, 2005), although such a formula was never required by federal law. Federal special education law is reauthorized on a regular basis, and in 1990, the name of the statute was changed to the IDEA. Components of NCLB were integrated
14 into the most recent reauthorization of IDEA in 2004. These components included the requirement for scientifically based instruction, an evaluation of the progress of the student, and the use of data in making decisions. IDEA 2004 also allowed school districts to utilize these data when determining eligibility for SLD rather than the previous method of documenting an ability achievement discrepancy (Brown Chidsey & Steege, 2005). As previously noted, districts may now identify students with learning ba sed interventions as part of the special education evaluation procedures. Florida has adopted an RTI process when identifying students with an emotional or behavioral disorder (E/BD) as well as SLD. However, the change in SLD identification for special edu cation eligibility is much more dramatic than the change in the identification criteria for E/BD, and represents a significant change from previous practice. It should be noted that the definition of SLD in federal law and Florida has remained unchanged, b ut the process by which disabilities are identified has undergone significant revisions. reads as follows: A specific learning disability is defined as a disorder in one or mor e of the basic learning processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest in significant difficulties affecting the ability to listen, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematics. Associated conditions may incl ude, but are not limited to, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, or developmental aphasia. A specific learning disability does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of a visual, hearing, motor, intellectual, or emotional/behavioral dis ability, limited English proficiency, or environmental, cultural, or economic factors. (State Board of Education Rule 6A 6.03018, F.A.C, 2009) Typically school psychologists have played a prominent role in administering intellectual assessments and determi ning eligibility for special education services. The
15 shift in policy to RTI is significant because school psychologists are forced to take on a new and different role within schools. Now it is necessary for these professionals to go beyond individual diagn osis and treatment and emphasize prevention, early intervention, instructional design, mental health services, and family support. Many practicing school psychologists were initially prepared to perform the more traditional role of test administrator and f ace this change with difficulties and fear (Canter, 2006). Statement of the Problem Over four decades, legislation established a link between school psychologists and special education programs along with influencing the roles of school psychologists. The use of the RTI model allows for a more expanded role for school psychologists. Possibilities could include treatment of mental health issues, general education interventions, behavior modification procedures, and program evaluation, but few national studie s have been completed regarding the actual roles of school psychologists since the passage of IDEA 2004 (Larson & Choi, 2010). Presently, most states are in some phase of RTI development. As of 2009, 15 states had adopted an RTI model, but 13 of the 15 sta tes were continuing to use both a discrepancy formula and RTI to determine eligibility for a specific learning disability. Twenty two states were in a development phase, 10 states were providing guidance to schools and districts, and three states had not a ddressed RTI at that time (Berkeley, Bender, Peaster, & Saunders, 2009). Florida was one of the states using the combination criteria, but as of 2010, is now only utilizing RTI results when determining SLD eligibility. School psychologists have many concer ns regarding the effect of an RTI approach on the profession. Some are concerned that the lesser emphasis on
16 intelligence and achievement testing will lead to fewer positions in school systems Other concerns are related to the skills required to take on o ther roles and functions. A lack of professional development, a lack of fidelity of intervention implementation, and vagueness of special education eligibility criteria have all been mentioned as concerns when using this model (Allison & Upah, 2006; Sulli van & Long, 2010; Wnek, Klein, & Bracken, 2008). School psychologists across the nation are dealing with these questions and concerns Purpose of the Study Research related to RTI has been growing and the widespread implementation of using RTI to determi ne eligibility for special services has necessitated school psychologists to re examine their roles. As their responsibilities shift away from traditional assessment, what will be the roles of school psychologists in an RTI world? The experience of practit ioners in a large Florida school district provides a basis for this study. This district received extensive training and support from the state as a pilot district. The purpose of this study is to investigate patterns of practice in this school district to determine what these patterns suggest about the changing roles of contemporary school psychologists. Research Questions The overall question guiding this study is this: How do school psychologists describe what they do and what they need as they make sen se of their changing roles in schools that have adopted an RTI process? Sub questions guiding this inquiry include: 1. How do school psychologists describe their professional responsibilities? 2. How do they perceive their current practice within an RTI f ramework?
17 3. How do they make sense of their changing roles? 4. How prepared do they feel for enacting their roles and meeting their responsibilities in their current assignments? 5. What do they need to strengthen their practice within the RTI framework ? A sense making perspective informs this analysis (Dervin, 1998). Sense making is an approach to studying users and designing systems to meet their needs. This approach suggests that user centered ideas about a particular situation form the basis f or conceptualizing and using data. The underlying assumptions of this perspective are based on perceived gaps between expectations and reality in a given situation and what might help resolve these discrepancies. Similar to Young s application of sense applied to school psychologists. Sense making theory can help explain how school psychologists reconcile the student and systemic need s and role expectations of their p osition as well as their relationships with colleagues, administrators, and other educational personnel. Since the role of school psychologists has not been clearly defined within the framework of RTI, school psychologists themselves must develop their own interpretations of the expectations placed on them and this occurs by placing new information into preexisting cognitive frameworks. Sense making occurs when there is a shock to the organizational system that either produces uncertainty or ambiguity (Dou gherty & Drumheller, 2006). RTI has certainly shocked the educational system and roles of personnel within the system. Sense making affords a way for school psychologists to return a sense of stability in their work lives. The key to sense making is the id ea that it allows people to make
18 sense of the disruptions to their lives. Sense making is an ongoing process and involves both rational and emotional responses. Overview of Methods The methodology for this study includes interviews and reviews of assessmen t documents and artifacts. Participants include school psychologists working in elementary schools in a large district located in Florida a state that widely uses the problem solving method when identifying students for special education eligibility. The sample includes six school psychologists working in elementary schools and the supervisor of psychological services in a large pilot district. Each research question was addressed separately through the interviews. A detailed description of the methodology and data analysis is described in Chapter 3. Limitations/Assumptions The data collection methods used in this study contained certain limitations. First, data collected using interviews were subjected to the perceptions or views of the researcher. Precaut ions regarding researcher bias are addressed in Chapter 3. Next, this study focused on school psychologists working primarily in elementary schools in one district in Florida. Therefore, readers of the research must make decisions regarding the transferabi lity to other settings and to other participants. Interviews were conducted with staff members who w ere selected by their supervisor and volunteered to participate in this study The supervisor was asked to nominate staff members who, in his opinion, were managing the changes in roles effectively. The school psychologists were purposively selected so the information may not be generalizable to all school psychologists. Another limitation involves the time spent interviewing participants. Due to time constr aints, each participant was able to be
19 interviewed one time. Despite opportunities for member checks through the use of email and telephone, the lack of face to face contact may have limited the amount of information obtained. At the time of this study, t he researcher was employed as a school psychologist in a different district within the same state. One reason for exploring this topic was to investigate how personnel in the same positions were managing the changes to their roles and responsibilities. Thi s researcher acknowledges certain biases regarding the role of the school psychologist in RTI and using RTI to determine eligibility for special education services. However, the researcher understands the importance of bracketing subjectivity in the quest ioning and interpretation of information. Participants were selected from a different region of the state and were unknown to the researcher. Member checks were conducted to limit researcher bias. Definitions D ISCREPANCY M ODEL A discrepancy between a and assessed achievement in one or more of the following areas: oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression, basic reading skills, reading comprehension, reading fluency, mathematics calculation, and mathema tics reasoning. This model has been used to identify the presence of a specific learning disability. R ESPONSE T O I NTERVENTION (R TI ) T he systematic use of data based decision making t o most efficiently allocate resources to enhance learning outcomes for 2006, p. 3). RTI involves screening all students, providing evidence based interventions to students in need, and monitoring progress frequently. S CHOOL P SYCHOLOGIST A type of psychologist that works within school s ystems to help students with academic, emotional, and behavioral issues. School psychologists collaborate with parents, students, teachers, and administrators and
20 provide services in assessment, consultation, intervention, and program evaluation S PECIFIC L EARNING D ISABILITY (SLD) A disorder in one or more of the basic learning processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest in significant difficulties affecting the ability to listen, speak, read, write, spe ll, or do mathematics. (State Board of Education Rule 6A 6.03018, F.A.C, 2009) Significance of the Study School psychologists are being asked to take a role in providing services that link assessment with intervention, instead of identifying students with academic, behavioral, or emotional difficulties (Ysseldyke et al., 2006). The discrepancy method is no longer a required part of federally mandated procedures used for identifying students with SLD. Thus, what has been a major component of most practicing school psychologists' typical job responsibilities is no longer required by law. Florida is now mandated to utilize the programs. Because school psychologists have b een included as one of several qualified professionals involved in special education eligibility decisions, they must have knowledge of a variety of assessment methods, and of effective instruction and intervention methods. This domain of knowledge is nece ssary in order to make decisions about the appropriateness of prior educational opportunities or to make recommendations regarding intervention required for students. Without this knowledge base, it is challenging for school psychologists to effectively pa rticipate in RTI. School psychologists face a number of challenges about how to approach assessment in general and RTI specifically (Burns & Coolong Chaffin, 2006). The implementation of evidence based interventions in schools and the measurement of the
21 r esults is becoming one of the major functions of the school psychologist and many school psychologists in the workforce are apprehensive regarding this change in their roles. Given the apparent confusion in the literatur e on how to implement the law in the context of RTI, and what should be included in a comprehensive evaluation, it is important to examine current patterns of practice among school psychologists. Overview of the Dissertation The study is organized into five chapters. Chapter 1 provides an ov erview of the problem to be studied, purposes for the study, and need for the study. Chapter 2 provides a review of the literature relevant to historical and current education legislation and presents studies focused on response to intervention, both natio nally and locally. Included in the review is an overview of the Florida school based problem solving model. Chapter 3 contains the methodology including the research design, and procedures for data collection and analysis. Chapter 4 presents the results of the analysis and a discussion of the findings. Chapter 5 addresses the conclusions of the study, the implications for practice, and suggestions for further research.
22 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW To examine the changing roles of school psychologists in c ontemporary schools, studies were selected that generally examined the problem solving method and RTI, along with the role of school psychologist in this process in public schools in the United States. Professional literature was selected that generally ex amined the problem solving method, RTI, and also the role of the school psychologist. Using the search terms problem solving method response to intervention learning disabilities school psychologist and special education studies were located in variou s databases including EBSCO, Academic Search Premier, Professional Development Collection, PsycINFO, and Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection as available through the University of Florida electronic resources. Traditional Roles and Functions of S chool Psychologists School psychologists are unique in that they are trained in both psychology and education and are typically employed in public schools. Children and their parents are the primary clientele. The two predominant roles that emerged for sc hool psychologists since the passage of EAHCA on programs. Fagan term counseling. Within the history of this professional field, the years from 1890 1969 are often was a blend of many kinds of practitioners from education and psychology. The dominant role was assessment for
23 special class placement. The foundations of school psychology were formed from two approaches based on the work of Lightner Witmer and G. Stanley Hall. Lightner Witmer adopted a clinical model, which focused on providing services to individuals. In 1896, he established the first psychological clinic at the University of Pennsylvania and conducted assessments of school aged children's cognitive abil ities using assessment tools such as the cylinder and form board and letter cancelling tests. Witmer's primary goal was to prevent and intervene in the learning problems of students, which was needed after the passage of compulsory schooling laws beginning in the midnineteenth century (Fagan, 1992). was in the area of developing normative characteristics for groups. He believed that psychologists could make educational contr ibutions at the system level and his services were directed more towards administrators, teachers, and parents. Scientists who studied under Whitmer and Hall brought more awareness to the problems in schools and greater identity to the psychologists who pr acticed in schools (Fagan, 1992). Some special education services were available in urban and rural communities by 1910. Personnel were needed to assist in the selection and placement of children for these services and the role of school psychologist evol services. This role can be traced back to 1915 when Arnold Gesell was hired as the first school psychologist in Connecticut. Duties included assessing students and placing them in special programs (Larson & Choi, 2010). The title of school psychologist was now associated with public school systems. It also became associated with providing services to students with mental disabilities and placing them in special education. In
24 emphasized. School psychology was a blend of various educational and psychological practitioners and the dominant role was to conduct psycho educational assessment for special class placement (Braden, DiMarino Linnen, & Good, 2001). The testing movement then began in earnest when Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon published the first version of the Binet Simon Scales in 1905. This test was translated into English by Henry Goddard in 1908 and was administered across the United Sta tes. The purpose of this test was to measure mental retardation based on normative developmental data (Braden et al., 2001). According to Sarason (1976), with its detailed instructions, sco ring criteria, classifications, and statistical bases the school In 1954, the Work Conference on the Qualifications and Training of School Psychologists (better known as the Thayer Confere nce) was held in New York. This was the first national level conference organized to discuss problems and issues related to school psychology. Topics such as necessary training, a code of ethics, practitioner to student ratios, certification and credentia ling requirements, and job requirements were discussed. A formal definition of a school psychologist was also developed, which stated that a school psychologist is a psychologist with training and experience in education. He uses his specialized knowledge of assessment, learning, and interpersonal relationships to assist school personnel to enrich the experience and growth of all children and to recognize and deal with exceptional children. (Cutts, as cited in Fagan, 2005 p. 232 233)
25 School psychologists w ere considered to be a psychologist first rather than an educator and their primary dut ies were to help teachers, administrators, and other personnel to help all children (Fagan, 2005). Since that time, universities have developed school psychology program s at the undergraduate and graduate level and the literature has expanded to include many professional journals and books related to school psychology. School psychologists became identified with a professional organization in 1945, when the American Psych ological Association (APA) reorganized into a divisional structure that included Division 16 for school psychologists. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) was founded in 1969 as the first national organization specifically for school ps ychologists field of school psychology. This was a time of growth in the university programs, practitioners in the field, state and national associations, literature, and regulatio ns, which have all contributed to the existence of school psychology. After EAHCA was passed in 1975, there was an enormous growth in the number of school psychologists across the nation. There were approximately 5000 school psychologists in 1970 and this number grew to 20,000 in 1988. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) began determining educational and professional qualifications and standards and also began working to influence decisions made by outside agencies. However, traditional psycho educational assessments remained the primary function of school psychologists. Studies indicate that before the passage of IDEA 2004, school psychologists spent half of their time or more conducting traditional psycho educational
26 assessments which typically included the measurement of intellectual, academic, and cognitive processing abilities and about 20% of their time providing direct or indirect interventions (Bramlett, Murphy, Johnson, Wallingsford, & Hall, 2002; Curtis, Hunley, Walker, & Baker, 1999; Larson & Choi, 2010; Reschly & Wilson, 1995). These results were then utilized to determine whether or not a student was eligible for special education services (Larson & Choi, 2010). However, Curtis, Lopez, et al. (2008) discovered that the number of evaluations completed by school psychologists has decreased but the percent of work time related to special education activities has time. Current versus Preferred R oles of School Psychologists School psychologists should be able to conceptualize problems, substantiate their decisions using data, collaborate with others to solve difficulties, and review and examine results (Fagan & Wise, 2007). These researchers ident ified three traditional roles and accompanying skills that are necessary for this to be accomplished: assessment, intervention, and consultation. The roles of school psychologists have undergone significant changes as they have been asked to perform new a nd expanding roles built around a problem solving model, which have reinvented and redefined the profession. The nature of the work within the schools in the future will be defined by areas of professional skill and competence, rather than by title, becaus e school psychologists will continue to be at various levels of role and function development (Ysseldyke et al., 1996).
27 Assessment the school psychologist has been the asse ssment of children, which remains a major focus (Fagan & Wise, 2007). Assessment is described as a problem solving or information gathering process that enables the school psychologist to understand the difficulties that a child may be experiencing and to develop interventions that will address these difficulties. It is important for assessment to be related to prevention and intervention (Ysseldyke et al., 2006). The nature of assessment has changed and now emphasizes the problem solving method and RTI p ractices in both general and special education. The concept of refer test place is no longer considered best practice (Reschly, 2008). The focus of assessments will focus increasingly on interventions, specifically, ways in which the environment can be cha nged to improve behavior and learning. School psychologists need to gather data on school systems, classroom environments, and should be knowledgeable in addressing the components of the instructional environment that facilitate or interfere with learning, as well as how environmental factors and student characteristics interact to affect outcomes (Ysseldyke et al., 2006). Intervention The recommendation and selection of intervention strategies emerge from the assessment phase, and involve creativity, comm on sense, as well as familiarity with the research literature. The concept of progress monitoring to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention is also crucial (Fagan & Wise, 2007). Intervention is defined as a made for the purpose of altering behavior in a
28 implementing, and evaluating of in terventions at all levels is crucial in ensuring improved outcomes for all students (Upah, 2008). Consultation Consultation strengthens the chances that appropriate services recommended in the assessment process will be provided. It is a mutual problem so lving process, along with a collaborative relationship, between professionals and can involve working with individuals, groups, or systems. To engage in this process, the school psychologist must have a strong knowledge base, as well as good communication and interpersonal skills. This process allows the school psychologist to improve the functioning of larger groups of students (Fagan & Wise, 2007). School psychologists have reported that they feel limited in their role at times (Lund, Reschly, & Martin, 1998; Reschly, 2000; Reschly & Wilson, 1995). Legislation demands that schools find children in need of special services, inform and educate parents as to their right to these services, and conduct student evaluations to determine eligibility for these ser vices at the parents' request (Bartlett, Etscheidt, & Weisenstein, 2007; Prasse, 2008). Much of this responsibility has become part of the job description for school psychologists instead of providing psychological services such as counseling or consultati on. As the legislation mandates these services, many school psychologists feel overwhelmed by large student caseloads, increased expectations, diminishing resources, and excessive paperwork (Merrell et al., 2006). This discrepancy between what many school psychologists thought the profession was going to be like and the
29 actual expectations of the profession in many cases may cause anxiety. Literature consistently shows that while school psychologists are providing a variety of functions within the schools, there seems to be more of an emphasis placed on special education related assessments and less of an emphasis on intervention, consultation, research, and functions that school psychologists are trained in and wish to do (Fagan & Wise, 2007). Studies have found that school psychologists would rather spend a greater amount of time providing interventions and consultative services with all students instead of spending the majority of their time completing evaluations used for special education eligibility det erminations (Levinson, 1990; Lund et al., 1998; Reschly, 2000; Reschly & Wilson, 1995). Miller, Witt, and Finley (1981) interviewed 40 school psychologists in the Rocky Mountain Region to obtain their perceptions of satisfaction regarding aspects of their work. Areas most frequently reported as providing satisfaction included flexibility and freedom when planning their time and activities, helping others, working with competent colleagues, and the challenge, variety, and importance of what they do. Negative aspects were related to time pressures and the stress of high case loads, conducting large numbers of evaluations, and the amount of clerical duties. Other areas of dissatisfaction included the inability to follow through after placement meetings, ambiguo us placement guidelines, the length of time between referrals and services, the requirement to sometimes label children inappropriately so that they could receive services, and the feelings of loneliness and isolation due to itinerant status. Many of thes e same concerns continue to remain issues within the field of school psychology today (Hosp & Reschly, 2002; VanDerHeyden, Witt, & Gilbertson, 2007;
30 Wilczynski, Mandal, & Fusilier, 2000). NASP surveyed o ver 1000 school psychologists and responses were grou ped by geographical regions. School psychologists in each of the eight regions spent one half or more of their time in assessment activities. The regions with the most hours spent completing assessments reported the least time providing direct intervention s. Overall, school psychologists in each region reported preferring to spend less time than they do on educational assessments and wanting to spend more time providing direct interventions and participating in problem solving consultations. School psycholo gists in all regions indicated satisfaction with their duties but were dissatisfied with the lack of opportunity for advancement or promotion (Hosp & Reschly, 2002). VanVoorhies and Levinson (2006) analyzed the results of two national studies and six stat e studies totaling 2,116 participants. Results indicated that nearly 85% of school psychologists were satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs. The factors that were rated as most satisfying included relationships with coworkers, the opportunity to stay busy on the job, the opportunity to work independently, and the opportunity to be of service to others. Compensation, school policies and practices, and opportunities for advancement were among the least satisfying factors. VanDerHeyden, Witt, and Gilbert son (2007) examined the effects of using a response to intervention model on the number of students referred for a special education evaluation at five elementary schools in Arizona. Fewer evaluations were conducted and evaluated students were more likely to qualify for services when RTI data were included in the team decision making process. This reduced time spent on unnecessary eligibility testing and reduced costs to a district. An interesting finding was
31 that RTI data were not considered in the decisio n making when a psychologist that was not trained in the RTI model was part of the team, but was when a trained psychologist was part of the decision making process. This finding provides preliminary evidence that the use of data may require specific train ing, that the correct use of data may contribute to the decline in number of evaluations and increase in the percentage of children qualifying for services who were evaluated, and school psychologists play an important role in correct use of the data. Clas sification and Identification of Specific Learning Disabilities Discrepancy Model After EAHCA went into effect in 1975, the lack of clear criteria for determining eligibility for a specific learning disability resulted in inconsistencies in decision making and a high rate of identification. The U.S. Office of Education operationalized this definition in 1977 and this was maintained in IDEA 1992 and 1997. The definition included: A severe discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability in one or mor e of the following areas: (1) oral expression; (2) listening comprehension; (3) written expression; (4) basic reading skill; (5) reading comprehension; (6) mathematics calculation; or (7) mathematic reasoning. The child may not be identified as having a sp ecific learning disability if the discrepancy between ability and achievement is primarily the result of: (1) a visual, hearing, or motor handicap; (2) mental retardation; (3) emotional disturbance, or (4) environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage. (United States Office of Education, 1977, as cited in Fletcher, Foorman, Boudousquie, Barnes, Schatschneider, & Francis, 2002) This was consistent with the belief that students with a specific learning disability usually exhibited a profile of strengths a nd weaknesses. Significant differences lead to learning at or above an obtained IQ score in some areas but with great difficulty in other areas (Mather & Gregg, 2006).
32 Not much scientific support for this approach has been identified and many organization s and committees have fought for alternative definitions. Some researchers (Fletcher, Francis, et al. 1998; Francis, Shaywitz, Stuebing, Fletcher, & Shaywitz, 1996; Vellutino, Scanlon, & Lyon, 2000) claim that the use of this definition results in excessi ve false negatives and false positives and should not be utilized as the primary basis for identification of a learning disability. In 2003, NASP proposed that Congress achievement discrepancy requir Wright (2007) discussed the fact that IQ achievement discrepancies are based on single session scores collected at one point in time. This one time may not provide argued this has also contributed to the issue of overrepresentation of minorities in special education. Another problem with the reliance on the discrepancy model used to determine eligibility was that students with a disability were often left unid entified and struggled academically well into the upper grades of elementary school until the discrepancy became significant enough to warrant services (Bradley, Danielson, & Doolittle, 2005). In most instances, it is easier to remediate delays if interven tions are implemented sooner rather than later. Also, it was argued that this identification process did not provide much valuable information that could be used to make instructional decisions. Despite the problems associated with the discrepancy model, some researchers do not advocate completely eliminating this model and relying completely on the use of RTI to determine the presence of a specific learning disability (Hale, Naglieri, Kaufman, & Kavale, 2004; Kavale, Kaufman, Naglieri, & Hale, 2005; Mathe r & Gregg, 2006;
33 Scruggs & Mastropieri, 2002). They do agree that the use of a simple formula has contributed to the overuse and misuse by school systems, and the use of a single score is not supported by best practice. However, norm referenced assessments do provide information as to the presence, nature, and severity of a disability, and information regarding strengths that can be used to improve academic functioning (Schrank, Teglasi, Wolf, Miller, Caterino, & Reynolds, 2005). Some researchers (Kavale et al., 2005) believe that comprehensive evaluations of intellectual and cognitive skills are essential after determining a child did not respond to well designed interventions. As stated in the most recent reauthorization of IDEA, the definition of a specif ic learning & Mostert, 2006, p. 115). Response to Intervention Model Documented difficulties such as disproportionate representation in special education of students from culturally and linguistically different backgrounds a lack of connection between evaluation results and instruction, and a delay of services are among the reasons a ssociated with the criticisms of the discrepancy model. RTI has been proposed as an alternative to the discrepancy model when determining eligibility for special services under the classification of SLD (Florida Department of Education, 2006). This approac over time that presumably is the result of an intervention. With regard to the representation of certain groups in special education, African American and American Indian/Alaskan Native chil dren have represented the highest percentages in all categories of disabilities (NCES, 2004) .. In addition, the percentage
34 of time children spen d in general education class es varie s by race/ethnicity. During 2004 05, almost 57% of W hite students spent 80% or more in general education class es in contrast to 41% of African American students and almost 48% of Hispanic students Slightly more than 13% of W hite children spent less than 40% of their day in general education classroom s compared to slightly over 2 6% of African American students and 22% of Hispanic children. Not only do more minority children receive special education services, they spend less of their day in general education classroom s Klingner et al. (2005) rejected the idea that culturally and linguistically diverse students are overrepresented in special education because they are more li kely to have true disabilities. Instead, these authors discussed many factors as contributing to overrepresentat ion such as contextual issues. One factor inclu de s the decision making proc esses used to determine special education eligibility, As stated by Garcia and Ortiz (2004), when RTI is implemented with culturally and linguistically diverse populations, classroom instruction, interventions, and the preferral process must be culturally and linguistically responsive. Without this, the disproportionate representation of minorities in special education will continue In order to identify a learning disability, ongoing measurement of academic performance is req uired before determining that a student has a disability. A positive lack of appropriate instruction or environmental difficulties and not a disability within the child No (or a negative) response becomes the basis for determining the need for a
35 more intensive level of intervention, which may or may not include special education services (Lichtenstein, 2008). Lynn Fuchs (2003) examined conceptual and technical issues as sociated with using RTI to identify learning disabilities. Fuchs summarized research that compared various approaches to measuring responsiveness to intervention. In order to assess responsiveness to intervention, three components were found to be necessar y: (a) criteria need to be established to differentiate between students who positively respond to interventions and those who do not; (b) the nature of the intervention should be specified; (c) and the timing of the measurements should be established. Th ree approaches were used to measure the response and these included the final status (the end result), the growth model (amount of learning), and the dual discrepancy (includes performance level and growth rate). Fuchs concluded that the utilization of the dual discrepancy model to assess responsiveness to the general curriculum resulted in the most accurate identification of students with a learning disability. However, some limitations of this review included the examination of only first and second grad e students and only in the area of reading. Researchers have since conducted studies to examine the validity of this approach. Case, Speece, and Molloy (2003) investigated the results obtained from first and second grade students in Mid Atlantic States. Cu rriculum based assessments were th percentile) and comparison (above the 30 th percentile) groups and interventions were designed during consultation meetings. Interventions were conducted for eight weeks and the dua l discrepancy model was utilized. Although f requently dually discrepant students had significantly lower scores on
36 all measures compared to students that were at risk, r esults did not indicate that the frequently dually discrepant students received poorer instruction nor had lower skilled peers than students in the other groups. Using this model, the researchers were able to accurately identify a group of students in need of more intensive services and these students differed from other groups of students o n a variety of measures. The ability to identify students in need of more intensive supports using the dual discrepancy model has also been demonstrated in studies conducted by Vaughn, Linan Thompson, and Hickman (2003) and Burns and Senesac (2005a). Vaugh n et al. (2003) examined an RTI model as a means of identifying students with reading/learning disabilities and also concluded that an RTI model should be pursued as an option for identifying students with learning disabilities. Forty five second grade stu dents in Texas were identified as at risk using a two tiered identification process. In the first tier, the classroom teachers nominated students for the intervention and students were informally ranked in the second quartile or below in terms of reading a bility as compared to their class peers. In the second tier, all nominated students were assessed using the Texas Primary Reading Inventory. Supplemental reading instruction was provided to students identified as at risk for having a reading related learn ing disability for ten weeks. The authors created a pre established criterion that a student must meet to exit the intervention. Students who did not meet the criteria were then reassigned to new groups of three and continued to receive the intervention fo r an additional 10 weeks. Students were placed in categories based on when they exited the intervention. If the students met exit criteria following the
37 week period the week period a fluency, passage comprehension and rapid naming measures. Results indicated that 70% of the students in the early exit group continued to progress in the general education setting, but only 9 of the 14 students in the mid exit group continued on an acceptable trajectory for reading fluency. These results suggested some advantages of using RTI as at least one of the criteria used when determining eligibility for spe cial education, including the fact that it provides supplemental instruction to a large number of at risk students, it requires on going progress monitoring, and may reduce biases inherent in the traditional method of referral which includes teacher percep tion and interpretation. Another study completed by Burns and Senesac (2005a) examined the dual discrepancy definition in which children score low on a post intervention reading measure and score below their peers in reading growth rates. Results suggeste d that using the 25th and 33rd percentile criteria within the dual discrepancy model may provide valid estimates of students requiring more intense i ntervention Four definitions of dual discrepancy were compared: student growth below the 25 th percentile, 33 rd percentile, 50 th percentile, and less than one standard deviation below the mean. Participants were 151 children in grades 1 through 3 who were identified as experiencing reading difficulties. All percentile rank models significantly differentiated
38 t he dual discrepancy students from other students based on their reading score, but the standard deviation approach did not. Burns, Appleton, and Stehouwer (2005b) completed a meta analysis of RTI research. Twenty one studies were examined and 24 total effe ct sizes were computed. Studies focused on the use of the most common models of RTI, including the Heartland model, the intervention based assessment, the instructional support team, and the Minneapolis problem solving model. h provides teachers with repeated opportunities and increasing levels of support to help students improve their academic abilities. Students who are determined to be unresponsive to interventions are eligible for special education. The intervention based a ssessment began in Ohio and combines a behavioral problem solving approach with collaborative consultation. Its problem solving components include defining the problem, collecting baseline data, and setting explicit goals setting. A hypothesized reason for the problem is developed and an intervention plan is implemented. Evidence of fidelity of implementation, data indicating student responsiveness to the intervention; and the ng eligibility and these activities are conducted by multidisciplinary teams that may include the principal, school psychologist, special education teacher, and classroom teacher. support teams in Pennsylvania eng age in collaborative problem solving while providing interventions but the team includes a support teacher whose primary responsibility is to assist in the implementation of the interventions. This instructional support is limited to 50 school days, after which the
39 is necessary. Students making little progress are evaluated for possible special education placement solving model replaces the psychometri c model with RTI as its means of identifying students for special education and utilizes a four level, behavioral problem solving model. Standardized test scores are not used and the team considers information from a variety of sources when determining eli gibility. All of the models use RTI to provide support and to identify students in need of special education services. The Minneapolis and Heartland models use a noncategorical model to determine special education eligibility and students are identified a Pennsylvania models refer students for formal evaluations after they determine a lack of adequate progress with interventions ( Fuchs, Mock, Morgan, & Young, 2003). Inclusion crit eria included studies that implemented an intervention, provided measures of student learning or systemic outcomes, and included individual student or building data. Sites that implemented an RTI model demonstrated both improved systemic and student outcom es with unbiased estimate of effects of 1.54 and 1.02, respectively. Results indicated a reduction in children referred to and found eligible for special education services, higher achievement test scores, and reduced behavioral difficulties (increased tim e on task, increased task completion, and improved comprehension during instruction). Students also received support earlier in their academic careers since there was no longer a need to wait for an ability achievement discrepancy to appear. Based on this meta analysis, less than 2% of students were determined to have a learning disability when an RTI approach was implemented. It
40 must be noted that the research surrounding the effectiveness of RTI and its appropriateness in determining eligibility for speci al services is just beginning. Consistent across all models of RTI is the idea of differing levels of intensity in interventions that are matched to student need. There are usually 3 or 4 tiers of instruction, with special education being reserved for s tudents who do not respond positively to the more intensive interventions. Tier 1 consists of a scientifically based core curriculum, quality instruction, and universal screening for all students. Tier 2 consists of supplemental instruction for struggling students and can be thought of as the inappropriately referred for special education. The goal of Tier 2 instruction is to provide timely and evidence based instruction al strategies to struggling students with the hope succeed. Tier 2 instruction is delivered in small groups, usually no more than five or six students at one time. It is recommended that this instruction is provided three to four times a week, with each session lasting 30 to 60 minutes. This supplemental instruction typically has a 9 12 week duration with weekly or bi weekly progress monitoring and can be implemented b y a variety of personnel, including general and special education staff (Mellard & Johnson, 2008). There are generally two approaches to structuring Tier 2 instruction. One is described as a problem solving model and the other is a standard protocol mode l. Some schools incorporate a combination of the two approaches, such as a standard protocol approach within Tier 2 and a problem solving approach within Tier 3 instruction. Using a problem solving approach, school based teams design interventions based on student
41 data and a continuing system of evaluation. Performance data are analyzed and used to develop a hypothesis regarding the cause of the difficulties and evidence based interventions are designed to remedy the difficulties (Mellard & Johnson, 2008). Limitations of this approach include a lack of a strong evidence base for the use of problem solving among professionals. S tudies have typically involved small or undefined samples and offered minimal information regarding the interventions implemented and the effectiveness. The time that students received interventions before deciding the response was not adequate was not reported. In order to claim that RTI is a preventative approach, it must be able to distinguish between students struggling because of d isabilities and students because of inappropriate instruction (Fuchs et al., 2003). In contrast, the standard protocol utilizes interventions that researchers have validated as effective through empirical studies. These are instructional programs designed to remediate specific skill deficits, such as math computation or reading comprehension. According to Fuchs et al. (2003), the conditions under which the intervention has proven successful must be specified and followed. These include the number of minutes the number of days a week, and the number of weeks required for instruction. The intervention should also describe the specific skill address, where the instruction should be provided, who should provide it, and the materials used for instruction and ass essment. If students do not demonstrate a positive response to Tier 2 interventions, intensive Tier 3 interventions may be delivered on a more individual basis. According to most estimates (Burns & Gibbons, 2008), approximately 5% of the student population
42 will require this level of intensive instruction. The problem solving approach, which includes problem identification, problem analysis, hypothesis development, plan development, plan implementation, and plan evaluation, is recommended for addressing the needs of these students. Special education may or may not be considered at this time, depending on the state model, and instruction can be delivered by general and/or special education staff. Of the 15 states that had adopted an RTI model in the Berkeley e t al. (2009) study, three states were implementing a problem solving method exclusively. Two states implemented the standard protocol method and the remaining states, including Florida, were implementing a hybrid combination approach. A hybrid approach usu ally consists of using a standard protocol during supplemental Tier 2 instruction and a problem solving approach for the more targeted and intensive Tier 3 interventions. The cited advantages surrounding RTI focus on the early identification and remediat ion of struggling students, the use of more effective instruction, the use of assessment methods that are linked to instruction, and the reduction of bias in identifying students for special education. But debate surrounds the issue of using RTI to identif y disabilities (Kavale, 2005; Kavale, Holdnack, & Mostert, 2005, Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2005). Mastropieri and Scruggs (2005) reported that school personnel do not have the necessary knowledge and skills to implement this model. Other concerns included the fidelity of implementation, implementation in secondary schools, and research that does support RTI for the most part is based on small scale studies that have intensive overs ight of intervention or treatment fidelity through university research
43 provided as to what to do after a student fails to respond. If an evaluation of cognitive abilities and psychological processes are eliminated, then it is assumed that all students fail for the same reason. Across this background of confusion and controversy, RTI is unfolding across the nation. Expanding Roles, Competency, and Building Capacity As a resu lt of legislation, there are implications for the professional roles of school psychologists. With the reauthorization of IDEA, Berninger (2006), in a professional commentary, views school psychologists as problem solving consultants. She described the rol e of the school psychologist as an intervention specialist rather than an assessment specialist. To fulfill this role, it is essential to keep up with current research and evidence based practices. This will allow school psychologists to assist teams in pl anning, conducting, and evaluating early intervention plans along with developing interventions for students who continue to struggle (Berninger et al., 2006). In 2008, in a professional commentary, Feifer described a variety of roles for school psycholog ists within an RTI system, along with the skills and knowledge needed. Roles centered on consulting with personnel regarding effective interventions, the importance of individual differences, and the impact of home factors such as second languages and cult ure. School psychologists were also viewed as experts on progress monitoring and data interpretation. To function in that role, several things are required such as knowledge of instructional programs, how emotional and behavioral variables can influence le arning, and how to interpret both formative and summative data. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) (2008) described the expertise of school psychologists as crucial within RTI systems. NASP stressed the
44 importance of consultation an d collaboration in developing effective academic and behavioral interventions. School psychologists can provide unique and valuable expertise in assisting with appropriate decision making about individual children and advocating for effective policies at a systems level and it is crucial for school psychologists to continually upgrade their knowledge and skills. Powers, Hagans, and Busse (2008) surveyed 249 school psychologists in California to examine their current practices. The surveys focused on the per centage of time school psychologists were involved in instructional consultative roles. Results indicated that most school psychologists (79%) administered a cognitive assessment at least once a week and only 2% administered a curriculum based assessment a s frequently. The majority of the school psychologists surveyed reported they never engaged in assessment activities associated with instructional consultation and the major reason cited was lack of knowledge. Forty one percent engaged in consultation acti vities with teachers on a regular basis but 10% reported knowing very little about academic interventions and only 7% frequently provided academic interventions. Results of the study indicated that successful RTI implementation will require in depth knowle dge of the principles of effective instruction, tiered assessment and instructional methodologies, progress monitoring, and data based decision making. An overall finding discovered that the potential for school psychologists to function as instructional c onsultants remains underutilized. Professional development appears to be necessary for school psychologists to gain knowledge and be comfortable in their new roles. Larson and Choi (2010) surveyed 189 practicing school psychologists across 42 states in ord er to examine the
4 5 effect of university training, training standards, and educational legislation on their roles and functions. These school psychologists perceived themselves as being somewhat or adequately prepared to perform tasks related to RTI such as intervention, preventative services, consultation, team collaboration, program evaluation, and systems/organizational consultation. Another area surveyed involved additional training needs. Almost 70% of the school psychologists felt a need for additional training in the areas of progress monitoring of intervention fidelity and various models of RTI. Feifer (2008) stated that school psychologists should develop their skills in consultation and data based decision making, including the ability to implement a ppropriate target driven assessments. School psychologists are often seen as special services being one of their primary job responsibilities. With the emphasis on RTI school psychologists will need to expand their role. Lau et al. (2006) examined the use of the problem solving method in the Minneapolis Public School System. The role of school psychologists transformed to more of a consultant. School psychologists w ere provided more opportunities to facilitate system wide change and address a variety of barriers to learning and the number of school psychologists in this district increased from 24 positions to 43 positions in 2004. The researchers theorized that the p roblem possibly expand the primary role of school psychologists from eligibility evaluators to classroom consultants, mental health service providers, home school liaisons, and system change facilitators. Our aspiration is to help indi vidual students achieve their
46 highest potential and to create and maintain a school environment that benefits all In 2010, NASP published its Model for Comprehensive and Integrated School Psychological Services which summarized the role of the school psychologist. According to this publication, school psychologists: provide effective services to help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. Sc hool psychologists provide direct educational and mental health services for children and youth, as well as work with parents, educators, and other professionals to create supportive learning and social environments for all children. School psychologists a pply their knowledge of both psychology and education during consultation and collaboration with others. They conduct effective decision making using a foundation of assessment and data collection. School psychologist engage in specific services for studen ts, such as direct and indirect interventions that focus on academic skills, learning, socialization, and mental health. School psychologists provide services to schools and families that enhance the competence and well being of children, including promoti on of effective and safe learning environments, prevention of academic and behavior problems, response to crises, and improvement of family school collaboration. (p. 1) The fact that IDEA 2004 no longer requires the use of an IQ achievement discrepancy and includes the use of RTI and scientific, research based interventions as part of the evaluation presents challenges and opportunities for school psychologists (Canter, 2006). While comprehensive evaluations continue to be required as part of the law (Hale, (2007) reported: With an opportunity for role expansion, RTI offers a challenge to the field of school psychology. Almost from the origins of school psychological services there have been pleas for less time spent in assessment and more time with interventions. RTI is an opportunity for directing our services toward alternative assessments, more interventions, and recognizing the complementary contributions of curriculum based
47 and nor mative assessments. Will we embrace the opportunity to demonstrate the importance of the intervention aspects of RTI? Or will RTI for the practitioner be Summary As a systematic problem solving process, RTI with i ts multi tiered intervention approach has been seen by many as a solution to both the problems associated with the discrepancy model of SLD identification and closing the achievement gap of at risk, struggling students within the general education classroo m. There appears to be some agreement among the research community on the use of RTI as a way of delivering effective instruction, but there are opposing camps about the viability of using RTI in SLD identification While there are positive results for indi vidual components of RTI, including a tiered intervention system, progress monitoring, assessment that informs instructional decisions, and professional development there is limited research on the role of school psychologists within the RTI model. School districts are struggling with the practical implementation and sustainability of the RTI process. Literature about RTI predominantly focuses on the definitions of RTI, models of RTI, purposes of RTI, implementation of RTI, but not much on the personnel's r oles in the implementation of RTI. Although several studies have been conducted to explore the implementation of RTI (Berninger et al., 2006; Burns t al. 2005; Burns & Senesac, 2005a; Case et al., 2003; Fuchs, 2003; VanDerHeyden et al., 2007; Vaughn et al. 2003; Velluntino et al., 2000 ) continued research is needed to explore the changing roles of personnel involved in the implementation and the practical issues that arise
48 Not many published articles and/or dissertations focusing solely on the role of s chool psychologists in an RTI framework were able to be located. The majority of articles mention the importance of the school psychologist as part of the problem solving team, as the expert in data analysis, and as an instructional consultant (Burns & Coo long Chaffin, 2006; Bursuck & Blanks, 2010; Feifer, 2008; Gelzheiser, 2009; Powers et al., 2008; Ysseldyke et al., 2006). Some surveys of practicing school psychologists were conducted to discover how their responsibilities have changed since RTI implement ation and the most common finding was that time spent conducting assessments decreased and time spent consulting with teachers increased. Other common themes were the lack of preparedness felt by school psychologists with providing instructional interventi ons and the anxiety felt regarding the lesser dependence on standardized assessments No qualitative stud ies examining what school psychologists actually do and how their professional lives have changed with RTI implementation were located The review of t he literature pointed out the need for research in this area.
49 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY This chapter describes the research design, the population and selected sample, the procedures for data collection and data analysis, and ethical considerations for thi s study. When considering the research design, it is essential to consider the research questions to be addressed in order to select a particular methodology. After identifying the research problem, it is important to develop a systematic plan for collecti ng and reporting data with the end result being a credible study. There are three design models for educational research studies: quantitative, qualitative, and mixed method designs. Quantitative studies test objective theories by examining the relationshi ps between variables. Qualitative studies explore the meaning given to an issue and are more focused on an inductive style of reasoning. A mixed methods design combines the two approaches (Creswell, 2009). A qualitative approach has been selected for this inquiry into the changing role of the school psychologist. Overview of the Methods Qualitative methods best match the purpose of this study, which is to discover and describe the perceptions of school psychologists toward their emerging patterns of profess ional practice in school districts implementing RTI. This purpose is aligned with understanding the meaning people have constructed, that is, how they make sense of case study as the ideal approach for descriptive or explanatory questions that are intended to investigate a phenomenon in depth and within its real life context.
50 In this collective case study, the issue of the changing roles of the school psychologist in an RTI framework was explored by examining the perspectives of 6 school psychologists and one supervisor of psychological services in one large Florida school distri ct. This district was selected by the Florida Department of Education to pilot the implementation of RTI during the 2007 08 school year. As a result of participating in the pilot process, the school psychologists in this district had more years of experien ce practicing within an RTI context along with extensive professional development. The overall question guiding this study is this: How do school psychologists describe what they do and what supports they need as they make sense of their changing roles in schools that have adopted an RTI process? Sub questions guiding this inquiry include: 1. How do school psychologists describe their professional responsibilities? 2. How do they perceive their current practice within an RTI framework? 3. How do they make sense of their changing roles? 4. How prepared do they feel for enacting their roles and meeting their responsibilities in their current assignments? 5. What do they need to strengthen their practice within the RTI framework? As with all educators, t he role of school psychologists has not been clearly defined within the framework of RTI, and consequently practitioners themselves are developing their own interpretations of the expectations placed on them, and this occurs by placing new information into pr eexisting cognitive frameworks. A sense making perspective is used to inform this analysis as an approach to studying users and designing systems to meet their needs (Dervin, 1998). A constructivist stance (Bruner, 1990) is taken in t his approach, which su ggests that user centered ideas about a situation form the basis for conceptualizing and using data. The underlying assumptions
51 of sense making are based on perceived gaps between expectations and reality in a given situation and what might help resolve th ese discrepancies. In this case, it is assumed that a s ense making perspective can help explain how school psychologists reconcile the student and systemic needs and role expectations of their position as well as their relationships with colleagues, admini strators, and other educational personnel. Assumptions and Rationale for a Qualitative Design Qualitative methods are used in research designed to explore and describe a specific practice or program. This study required data rich in detail that would all ow interpretation of the perceptions of the participants involved in the study. Due to the fact that this research study focused on the emergence of patterns of practice in the context of an educational framework, a qualitative method was determined to be most appropriate (Creswell, 2009). Type of Design Merriam (1998) noted that descriptive case studies can be advantageous when conducted. Innovative programs and practice s are often the focus of descriptive case studies in education. Such studies often form a database for future comparison and school psychologists within an RTI framework. Yin (2009) defined case study as it contemporary phenomenon within its real life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clear
52 order to truly understand how the role of school psychologists has changed, it seemed important to investigate the work in a ma nner that allowed for this type of research. to that of a detec of the participants and include the voices of the participants in the final result; they gather the data themselves and build the patterns and themes by organizing the data. The foc us of the analysis, however, is on the meaning that the participants, not the researcher, have about the issue (Creswell, 2007). As the researcher conducting this study, I have 20 years of experience as a school psychologist within several public school s ystems. in the spring of 1992, and in the late 1980s and early 1990s, training in school psychology consisted mostly of learning to give tests to students There were occasional courses in areas such as consultation, counseling, and intervention development, but it was not the focus of professional preparation. Once I began working, my main job responsibility was to administer tests. My experiences include d working with students in elementary, middle, and high schools. I have wo rked in two states, with each utilizing a different type of discrepancy formula for identifying students with SLD. I am now working in a district that requires the use of RTI when identifying a student as eligible for special education. This has led to cha nge s in my own role and how I would describe changes in my responsibilities. There are some aspects of my new role that I am more comfortable with and some areas that I feel I need more training. These professional experiences provided me with a deep under standing of the
53 contexts in which these participants practice. At the same time, these experiences also created the potential for researcher bias. Therefore, efforts to reduce my own subjectivity were considered in the design and implementation of this stu dy, and these are described more fully in subsequent sections in addressing the ethics of conducting research. As suggested by Creswell (2009), I examined different data sources and used member checking to determine accuracy. I also presented any discrepan t information that ran counter to the themes resulting from my analysis. Questions were also developed in a manner using language designed not to anticipate findings (Locke, Spirduso, & Silverman, 2007). Procedures The following sections of the chapter de scribe the over all plan for conducting this study. These procedures include selection of the research setting, the selection of the participants, my plans for assuring confidentiality, and addressing issues of entry, reciprocity, and ethical concerns. Spe cific procedures for data collection and analysis are described in greater depth in subsequent sections. Selecting the Setting In case studies, researchers are interested in settings where the phenomenon of interest is likely to be found. As the primary pa rticipants were school psychologists working in elementary schools that used an RTI framework to identify students eligible for special education, it was important to locate settings in which these professionals work. Therefore, the setting of this study w as selected based upon specific selection criteria. The student services department in a large district in the southeastern United States served as the site for the collection of data in this study. A pseudonym was
54 assigned to the district. This district was known as Gator County. Gator County consists of 74 typical public schools and serves approximately 67,000 students. There are 46 elementary schools, 15 middle schools, and 13 high schools. Of the 74 schools, 34 receive Title 1 funds due to the numbers of students at those schools who receive free or reduced price lunch. There are also 4 educational centers and 5 charter schools, which will not be selected for participation. According to 2011 data, approximately 5 3 % of students qualify for free or reduce d priced lunch Close to 19% are identified as being of Hispanic origin, although fewer than 5% of students are considered English language learners. More than two thirds of the students are White and the African American population is small at 5.7%. Demog raphic data for the district are illustrated in Table 3 1 Gator County was selected for this study because of its participation as one of eight districts that agreed to pilot the implementation of RTI in 2007. Because it was a pilot district, the Florida State Department of Education provided assistance to seven pilot elementary schools in Gator County. There were five Problem Solving/RTI coaches for the district and o ne Problem Solving/RTI coach was assigned to every three schools. All coaches completed five days of training in July, 2007, and additional training, as well as mentoring and support by a regional supervisor was provided throughout the year. The district received 5 days of training during the 2007 2008 school year and training was targeted sp ecifically to the needs of each of the pilot schools. Training was conducted by the regional supervisors and the site based coaches. Technical assistance was also provided to the pilot site coaches and the pilot site administrators by the regional supervis ors. This assistance included face to face, web based, and
55 telephone/email communication. Monthly sessions were scheduled with pilot site coaches and regularly scheduled meetings were utilized to assist and support pilot site administrators. (Florida PS/RT I Project, 2011). Selecting the Participants The primary participants in this study were selected through purposeful sampling. According to Merriam (1998), a sample must be selected that allows the most to be orm an understanding of the research Information about the participants is illustrated in Table 3 2 Gator County employs 42 school psychologists. Of these 36 are female and 6 are mal e. All 6 males are White ; 28 of the female school psychologists are White ; 5 are African American, and 3 are Hispanic. The supervisor was asked to nominate school psychologists who, in his opinion, appeared to be coping well with the changes in their roles and who would be able to participate in this study. He then contacted school psychologists fitting this description and arranged the interviews. Six school psychologists were selected to participate in this study based on the nomination of the supervisor and their availability After obtaining permission to conduct research in this county by the Research and Evaluation Department, the supervisor of psychological services in the district was contacted by telephone and email to explain the purpose of this re search. The supervisor was also interviewed in order to obtain district perspectives and overviews of the RTI process in the district. Participation was voluntary and only psychologists who were willing to be interviewed were part of the study.
56 Assurances of Confidentiality Prior to the beginning of each interview, each participant signed an informed consent statement, which provided information on the purpose of the study, proposed procedures, and the University of Florida Institutional Review Board approv ed consent form prior to use in this study (see Appendix B). A pseudonym was assigned to all participants. Interviews were the primary methods for obtaining data. These interviews were audio taped and transcribed verbatim. T he interviews and audiofiles w ere stored in my home office at all times. The audiofiles will be destroyed one year following completion of the study. Issues of Entry As t he researcher I contacted the department of research in the district and completed the required paperwork in order to obtain permission to interview the district employees. The supervisor of psychological services in the district provided the entry point for this study. An email explaining the purpose of the study and proposed data collection methods was sent to the s upervisor of psychological services in the district. This was followed by phone contact to the supervisor He was asked to nominate school psychologists who, in his opinion, had handled the change in roles effectively. The supervisor contacted school psych ologists who fit the criteria and were willing to participate in the study. He then arranged the interviews and emailed the appointment times to me Reciprocity Reciprocity must exist between the researcher and those being researched (Creswell, 2005). Acc ording to Glesne (2006), the interviewing process can provide
57 reciprocity. Participants can be given a sense of importance by having the researcher listening carefully and seriously. The participants were given the opportunity to reflect on and answer ques tions. These questions were related to their careers and professional experiences and the final product is intended to provide useful information to inform the participants Ethical Issues ely to emerge with regard to the the ethical issues in a qualitative design such as communicating the purpose of the study, risk to the participants, reciprocity, and confidentiality were addressed in the informed consent statement that participants signed when they agreed to participate in this study. Merriam (1998) also stated that since the researcher is deciding what is important, opportunities exist to exclude dat views. Efforts to address these issues are essential to qualitative research. To address researcher subjectivity and bias, I used methods suggested by Merriam and Creswell (2009), such as checking interpretations with participants, spending sufficient time in the field, asking for peer comments, involving the participants in all aspects of the research, and clarifying my biases and assumptions. I also described in detail how the study was conducted and how finding s were obtained. Questions were developed in a manner using language designed not to anticipate findings (Locke, Spirduso, & Silverman, 2007). These measures addressed the potential for researcher bias and allowed for an illustration of the work lives of t he six school psychologists and their current patterns of practice.
58 Data Collection Procedures The data collection process consisted of semi structured interviews and document analysis. Interviews were considered as the primary source of data an d document s provided further data related to the roles and responsibilities of school psychologists in the district. Data was collected from March, 2012 to June, 2012. Interviews Semi structured interviews were conducted and each interview lasted 60 minutes. Indivi dual taped interviews were conducted with each of the six school psychologists. Interviews occurred in a vacant office at the Student Services department. The supervisor of psychological services in the district was also interviewed to obtain district pers pectives and an overview of the RTI process in the district. (See Appendix D for the interview protocol). By the time interviews were scheduled, it was the Member checking using email and other electronic media was conducted to confirm the accuracy of information and interpretation. The participants were emailed copies of their transcribed interviews and individual case analyses for review and opportunities for revisions or clarifications were made available. Fi eld Notes As t he researcher I took notes during the interviews, recording key words, phrases and actions. Immediately following each contact with a participant, comments were written regarding any problems with data collection as well as general observati ons about the mood and the tone of the session. The field notes also included insights, interpretations, beginning analyses, and working hypotheses and what they might mean. Immediately following the interviews, the I listened to the recorded
59 sessions. Th ese notes supplemented the interview notes and hopefully captured nuances not always spoken. Document Data Collection and Review Examples of documents in this study included the district level job description for school psychologists and district RTI manu als These documents were used to corroborate and augment evidence from the interviews. Despite the fact that the job description of the school psychologist was last revised in 1997, many of the responsibilities reported in interviews continue to fit withi n the job description. After the year long state pilot project was completed, extensive training was provided by the district that was specific to the needs of the various schools. The implementation of RTI was designed to occur in phases and schools began the phases of implementation at varying times. Job descriptions and the implementation plan are provided in Appendix E. Data Analysis and Management Procedures n and analysis of a single, bounded unit. Conveying an understanding of the case is the and documents contained a tremendous amount of information. Therefore, it was ne cessary to manage and organize data in a manner that facilitated analysis. Data analysis followed the constant comparative methods as described by Creswell (2007).The following sections describe how data w ere managed and analyzed, and how issues of quality in the research design were addre ssed
60 Basic Operations in Data Analysis In qualitative research, the researcher knows what the issue is at the onset and has selected a sample to collect relevant data. The data are analyzed while being collected and the a nalysis is an ongoing process throughout the research. A process called coding is used to identify and interpret collected information by organizing it into segments or themes (Merriam, 1998). The first step in analysis was to code the data into major cate gories of information and data was grouped together on similar dimensions. Categories were named based upon the data and how they reflected the purpose of the research. This method continued until all of the data were categorized into a meaningful category or a miscellaneous pile. This analysis started at the beginning of data collection and continued throughout the process. This approach allowed me to become familiar with the data and to recognize the emerging themes It also assisted me in staying focused on the main purpose of the study. This study was a case study of the perceptions of six school psychologists regarding their patterns of practice within an RTI framework. E ach case was analyzed individually in order to gain an understanding of their work from a micro level perspective. A cross case analysis was then conducted to develop a general explanation that reflected data in the individual cases, but also illuminated themes from a macro level perspective (Merriam, 1998).
61 Data Management Each recorded and transcribed interview and set of documents was coded for source and filed for analysis consisting of numbers and letters. No personally identifiable information was linked to the transcr ipts Addressing Quality As t he researcher I using their words in order to retain their intended meanings. By juxtaposition of quotes from the transcripts and the data that took the form of explanations and description, the intent was to clearly represent the school psychologists who volunteered to share their stories. In crafting the ir stories, every effort was made to keep researcher bias out of the data collection, coding processes and analysis of the data through a constant reflexive process. Credibility, transferability, and dependability are qualities used in judging the trustworthiness of qualitative research and are described in the following sections. terion in qualitative research that parallels internal validity in Mertens and McLaughlin acknowledged that several research strategies can be used to enhance credibilit y, such as substantial engagement with the participants, peer debriefing, and negative case analysis when faced with a case that does not fit with a hypothesis. Developing constructions and the change process should be documented from the beginning to the end of the study and member checks need to occur with the participants. Triangulation, which is the checking of information across sources of data, also enhances credibility. Merriam (1998) recommended member checks as a method for enhancing researcher cre
62 tentative interpretations back to the people from whom they were derived and asking if In this study, t ranscripts of the interviews and individual case analyses were shared with some of the participants to ensure that conversations were accurately captured and portrayed and interpretations were plausible Member checks were conducted by email and other electronic media. My goal as the researcher was to understand the w orld of these participants through their own perspectives. P eers in another district examined transcripts and interpretations to enhance credibility and assist me in becoming aware of personal views. The provision of a thick, rich description of the parti cipants and settings under study allows readers to determine how closely their situations match the research situation and whether findings can be transferred and applied to other selected situations (Merriam, 1998). Therefore, I documented impressions of the settings and participants in detail using a research journal. These notes were transcribed and analyzed along with other collected data, and used in providing descriptive details, which allow readers to make decisions regarding the transferability of t he findings to their situation. The dependability of a qualitative study is the parallel of reliability, meaning the stability of observed changes over time (Mertens & McLaughlin, 2004). However, in qualitative research, there is no benchmark by which to t ake repeated measures and establish reliability in the conventional sense of the word. When applied to qualitative research, dependability refers to the fact that the results make sense given the data; the results are dependable and consistent. To ensure t his, the researcher explained the
63 reasoning for selecting the participants, utilized multiple methods of data collection, described in detail how data was collected, how categories were developed, and how decisions were made (Merriam, 1998). The Qualitativ e Narrative The data for each participant was analyzed individually to provide an illustration of how each school psychologist made sense of his or her responsibilities and patterns of practice, and what was needed to strengthen that practice. This allowed for an understanding of that work from a micro level perspective. A cross case analysis conceptualize the data from all the cases or it can result in building substanti ve theory In Chapter 4 the findings from this study are presented through individual profiles of the participants, and categories and things resulting from the cross case a nalysis of the data. The findings are also discussed in relation to previous research and professional literature. In Chapter 5, the findings are discussed with regard to the questions guiding this research. The final chapter also provides a discussion of major conclusions, implications for practice, and recommendations for future research.
64 Table 3 1 District d emographics # of students # of schools % of students on free/reduced lunch % of Caucasian S tudents % of African American students % of Hispanic s tudents % of other % of English language learner students 67,000 74 53 68.83 5.7 18.97 6.5 4.3
65 Table 3 2 Participant Demographics Participant Position Sex Race Years experience Years in the district Highest Degree Earned Adam Betty Carol David Erin Fran Gail Supervisor of school psychologists School psychologist School psychologist School psychologist on special assignment as RTI coach School psychologist School psychologist School psychologist M F F M F F F White White White White White Hispanic White 3 7 4 9 10 7 5 25 years ; 3 as supervisor 7 4 9 5 6 5 M.Ed. + 45 Psy .S. Ed.S. Ed.S. Ed.S. Ed.S. Ed.S.
66 CHAPTER 4 DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS School psychologists have been taken out of the na rrow role of testers and are allowed to use discretion and judgment when it comes to testing and assessment. There is confusion and anxiety about being part of a team and not just giving scores. Some know where they fit and some are still in the process of figuring it out and all are dealing with the difficulties with role identity, communication, and working together Adam, Supervisor of psychological services As the words of Adam, a supervisor of psychological services, suggest, the role of school psycho logist has changed and is not well defined. In order to explore this issue, this descriptive study was designed to examine the perceptions of school psychologists regarding their changing roles and patterns of practice in a large school district in Florid a. The overall question guiding this study is this: How do school psychologists describe what they do and what they need as they make sense of their changing roles in schools that have adopted an RTI process? Sub questions guiding this inquiry include: (a ) How do school psychologists describe their professional responsibilities? (b) How do they perceive their current practice within an RTI framework? (c) How do they make sense of their changing roles? (d) How prepared do they feel for enacting their roles and meeting their responsibilities in their current assignments? (e) What do they need to strengthen their practice within the RTI framework? In t his study a cross case methodology was used to address research questions utiliz ing interviews with school p sychologists and a supervisor of psychological services, and a review of pertinent documents and materials A was used to record thoughts, beginning analysis, and other information. A s ense making perspective (Dervin, 1998) provided t he conceptual framework to expl ore how school psychologists
67 reconcile student and systemic needs and role expectations of their position ; their relationships with colleagues, administrators, and other educational personnel ; and what they need to strengthen their professional practice T he role of the school psychologist is not typically well defined within the implementation of RTI, and these professionals are constructing their own interpretations of the expectations placed on them and making sense of the ir roles by placing new information into preexisting cognitive frameworks. This chapter begins with a summary of the overall findings followed by individual case profiles of the participating school psychologists The chapter concludes with the presentati on and discussion of the findings based on categories and themes derived from an analysis across the individual cases Overall Findings The findings suggest these psychologists made sense of their changing roles by viewing themselves as members of a helpi ng profession Each person acknowledged their professional roles have changed in recent years, and some were more comfortable than others with the se changes The evidence suggests these school psychologists are redefining their roles by building on persona l strengths and speaking up more confidently about their professional concerns. Their readiness and preparedness for adapting to changes in their professional lives appeared to be influenced by prior experience, the focus of their graduate training, and th eir personal strengths. These practitioners identified district based professional development targeted to practical and specific needs in schools, and strong and supportive school based leadership as being crucial to meeting their needs in implementing RT I successfully. Profiles of the Participants The following profiles of participants provide individual illustrations of the work
68 lives of the six school psychologists and e ach case is illustrated using a basic premise of sense making theory Data are repor ted through general and particular description. Data sources used in the study are referenced by codes that identify the type of source (I interview transcript; D document) followed by letters and numbers that identify the participant. Participants are ide ntified using the following codes: SSP supervisor of school psychologists and SP school psychologist. Finally, the page and line numbers of the transcript are listed. Data analysis resulted in the emergence of central themes that contributed to the un derstanding of how the participating school psychologists made sense of his or her responsibilities and patterns of practice. Answers to the research questions are embedded in themes as the school psychologists discussed (a) influences and background, (b) values, culture, and perceptions of their roles, (c) responsibilities as school psychologists, and (d) what they needed to strengthe n their practice. There were a total of seven participants in this study. The supervisor of psychological services was inte rviewed first in order to explore the district context of this educational initiative and to nominate school psychologists who have been successful in managing their roles. Six school psychologists were interviewed to describe what they do and what they ne ed as they make sense of their changing roles in schools that adopted an RTI process. Supervisor of School Psychologists Adam, the supervisor of school psychologists, was responsible for the supervision of five of the school psychologists who participate d in this study. The sixth participant, David, was trained as a school psychologist and worked for 7 years in a traditional role in Gator County. He has worked as an RTI coach under the supervision
69 of the district RTI supervisor for the past 1 years. A dam welcomed the opportunity to participate in this study and arranged for all participants to meet with me in the Student Services building on their final contract day of the 2011 12 school year. Adam was interviewed in order to establish the district co ntext and what led to the decision to become a pilot district for the RTI initiative. The district had a different d a relationship with a local basics of RTI but efforts were concentrated in kindergarten a nd first grades across the planned that schools would get differing levels of support each year and the school supervisor of school psychologists assumed a new position administration called the Supervisor of RTI, which was placed under the Curriculum and Instruction department, and some of the school psychologists were placed on special assignments as RTI coaches. This administrative pos ition was eliminated during the summer of 2012 and the supervisor has since left the district. At the time interviews were conducted, the RTI coaches were not sure of their positions for the 2012 13 school year. Adam was a staff school psychologist in Gat or County in 2009 and became the
70 supervisor of school psychologists when the position became available during that summer. According to Adam, some aspects of the adoption of RTI were more successful than others and the roles of school psychologists changed School on points when determining eligibility, a lack of standards, and questionable fidelity of the delivery of where they fit and some are still in the process of figuring arranged for me to interview six of the school psychologists who seemed to have successfully managed this change in roles. In the following section, Betty is introduced. Betty is a school psychologist at an elementary, middle, and high school in Gator County. Case One: Betty Influences and Background Betty was very energetic and willing to engage in conversation. Initial questions t was revealed that Betty started her career as a special education teacher in Gator County and often utilized the psychological reports to help her understand the students and their levels of functioning. After teaching for eight years, Betty had a desire to return to s chool and a friend who was a school psychologist urged her to go into the field. In
71 Bet ty spent the following six years in Gator County. Values, Culture, and Perceptions When asked about what she valued about being a school psychologist, Betty emphasized the relationships with staff and being viewed as someone who is dependable and reliable. me for help and for my opinions. Not only do they come to me for their students, but school but also somewhat an outsider so they value my opinion a that she enjoyed helping the students and continued to enjoy the more traditional role of administer ing standardized measures to help better understand the students. as a school psychologist at an elementary, middle, and high school. The implementation of RTI seems to be furt secondary schools just on the cusp of developing the consensus just as an RTI leadership team and slowly starting to second year assigned to that school and the school had received a grade of an F from the state the previous year. As a result, the leadership team at the school was changed and this affected the culture of the school. The understanding of RTI by the principal appeared to have a big influence on the school. The previous administration viewed RTI
72 as what needs to be done to qualify a s tudent for special education. The current principal and assistant principal both had a background in reading and believed in interventions and finding what worked for the students. This was somewhat difficult for The culture of the school was described as positive but stressful due to state involvement with the F grade. Personnel from the state department of education were in used Title 1 funds to allow a school psychologist to be full time for the 2012 13 school year. When asked if her job is what she expected, Betty acknowledged that being a special education teacher in an elementary school allowed her to experience some of vary from school to school. Roles and Responsibilities In the role of a consu ltant, Betty was meeting with teachers and assisting with the also increased signific antly for Betty and the responsibility for collecting and graphing data usually fell on her.
73 Since RTI implementation was just beginning at the secondary level, I asked Betty to focus on the elementary school and describe her days at that school. She was assigned to the elementary school two days per week, Tuesdays and Thursdays. needing interventions or a special education re evaluation were discussed. The school based interv ention team, which included the administration, met and discussed students and interventions. Occasionally, it was necessary to have meetings on Thursdays. If there were no meetings, this was the day Betty had to fulfill all other responsibilities, includi ng observing students, testing students, collecting data, and writing reports. Betty was assigned to a middle school one day a week. All eligibility meetings and meetings with the intervention team occurred on Monday mornings. In the afternoon, meetings w ith the student services team were held. This school was implementing a structured behavioral intervention program and the team, which included Betty, the administration, the behavior specialist, the school social worker, the guidance counselors, and the d rop out prevention teacher, met to discuss the progress of students. This meeting typically lasted 1 2 hours and any testing that was required was done between meetings. On Wednesdays and Fridays, Betty was assigned to a high school. All meetings were hel d on Wednesday mornings and Betty and the social worker conducted groups in the afternoon. Fridays were reserved for student observations, testing, and meeting with individual students.
74 Needs I then asked Betty about the state RTI training, professional d evelopment, and what she felt she needed to strengthen her practice. Professional development with the district had declined due to budget cuts but the department continued to provide training on a monthly basis. There were also three school psychologists on special assignment as RTI coaches and were seen as a resource. The state training consisted more of questionnaires completed by personnel and then using the results to drive professional development. The RTI coaches provided a 4 day training and personn el from various schools attended. Each day focused on a level of intervention intensity. Being a pilot district provided the schools with more personnel and resources, but the most valuable P.I.1.4.5), since it was directed to specific needs. understand RTI, but more training needs to be done in the schools with the practical luded developing interventions tied to the deficit, progress monitoring, and how to implement RTI in secondary settings. As Betty said, Case Two: Carol Influences and Background Carol was very pl easant and willing to answer any questions. During the previous school year, she was assigned to two elementary schools. One school was part of the state pilot grant and the other school had finished year 2 of the district based RTI training. The interview began with inquiring about background and what
75 influenced her to enter the field of school psychology. Carol attended a technical university that did not have a college of education, but there were well known researchers in psychology. She was abl e to study with those researchers and began located at the university, which allowed her to work with children. Carol completed her graduate work at a local university and was encouraged to pursue the field of school Values, Culture, and Perceptions When asked about what she v alued about being a school psychologist, Carol emphasized the problem solving process. Carol was assigned to an elementary school that was part of the RTI grant and one that finished the second year of district based RTI training. She was in a good positio n to describe her participation in the pilot project. Carol spent four days in schools (two days at each school) and one day at the district though one school has been do at the pilot schoo l were more familiar with data collection and deciding what was important whereas the teachers at the non pilot school tended to bring all the data they had collected to meetings but were more enthusiastic about the process and implementing interventions.
76 Carol felt that her role was close to what she expected, but that was due to the RTI emphasis in her graduate training. However, the increase in time spent in meetings was new. Multiple meetings were required for most situations, which affected the time a vailable for direct services and other job responsibilities. She felt that it was important to build consensus and understanding among staff and stakeholders since t hese are the people actually in the classroom with the students. Carol reported that it is very important that the teachers know how to look at data and engage in problem solving. This is an ongoing process and s ometimes people compartmentalize the problem solving process and view it as something that is only done during the meeting. The goal is for it to be a way of thinking that is infused throughout the day and applied to all issues and situations. Roles and Responsibilities The population at the schools Carol served consisted of students from a high socio economic status and mostly Caucasia other schools, which consequently necessitated multiple meetings. I asked Carol to describe her days at the two schools. Each school had a designated student services day and the focus was child find or problem solving meetings that typically lasted 45 minutes. Meetings were scheduled for the entire day and included Tier 1 problem solving meetings, problem solving meetings that focused on individual students who required additional supports, and special education eligibility or IEP meetings. Carol felt that spending time in Tier 1 meetings and getting involved early when a student struggled was crucial. This enabled problems to b e addressed
77 earlier, with the goal of preventing them from escalating into more serious intractable problems. Carol spent Fridays at the district office assisting Adam with Section 504 issues and other issues related to students with disabilities. All othe r responsibilities, such as assessments and observations, had to be fulfilled during the remaining days one day per school. Needs Carol describe d the RTI training provided by the state to the pilot schools, professional development, and what she felt she needed to strengthen her practice. She the coaching and feedback were helpful. Whe n asked about what was needed to children to be tested without fully understanding the pr ocess and not understanding that the test scores do not determine eligibility. A large portion of her time was spent explaining RTI and the process to parents, along with how students are determined eligible for special education. Case Three: David Influen ces and Background David was friendly with a good sense of humor. David was trained in school psychology and worked in a traditional role for 7 years. However, for the past year and a half, David was one of the three school psychologists working as an R TI coach. but also
78 At the end of the interview, David mentioned that he would be relocating to another state a nd leaving Gator County. This did not appear to be due to dissatisfaction with his role. Values, Culture, and Perceptions When asked about what he valued about being a school psychologist, David focused on the investigative process, especially with the mor e difficult cases. According to David, he enjoys feeling the sense of accomplishment that comes with solving a problem. The assessment and data analysis part of the job was as expected, but he did .3.1.8). interviewed. He served as an RTI coach at six elementary schools rather than serving in the more traditional role of a school psychologist assigned to two or three sch ools. This observation that David noted was that, as the psychologist, he had no real po wer in the school. The culture of the school, which included the acceptance of the problem solving process and RTI, depended on the administration and how they perceived the process. Roles and Responsibilities to day responsibilities focused more on groups of students instead of individuals. He was able to meet with the leadership and grade levels approximately every other week and noted that regular meetings were more important in the beginning so the process did not stagnate. The role of th e RTI coach was to examine the data for a class, grade, AYP group, etc., rather than an individual student and work with the
79 school leaders to assist in examining the data and trends. He also helped with recommendations and interventions with teams but his to go through the problem different levels of expertise and self reflection and this affected the progress. The district had developed expectations for schools depen ding on the year of implementation. During the first year of implementation, the leadership team from the school participated in trainings to learn how to analyze school wide data. This information was then passed on to the staff. The role of the coach was to assist in setting up the structure and help with buy in from the staff. Typically, one grade was targeted (usually kindergarten) and the coach met with this team more frequently, analyzed data, and developed common assessments to be used across the gra de level. The coach assisted in developing the skills of the leadership team, add ing other grade ing implementation, the school focused on Tier 1, Tier 2 was the focus of the sec ond year, picture instead of focusing on individual students because there would not be enough Needs I next asked David about the state RTI training, professional development, and what he felt he needed to strengthen his practice. David felt that the state training the materials from the state we re revised to target the specific issues of Gator County
80 and since that time, most of the professional development has come from within the department. When asked about what was needed to strengthen the practice of school experiences, meetings and the entire problem solving process took a lot of time on (SP.I.3.4.9). Administrative support is the most crucial factor ). Case Four: Erin Influences and Background During the previous school year, Erin was assigned to one middle school and one high school. As with the other interviews, I began by inquiring about her background and what influenced her to enter the field of school psychology. Erin was in graduate school studying to become a special education teacher and had never heard of school psychology. She began to question her choice after multiple practicums and a professor suggested school psychology. The 2011 school psychologist. Values, Culture, and Perceptions When asked about what she valued about being a school psychologist, Erin state the opportunity to work with a range of schools and students. She described her a middle m a n" (SP.I.4.1.8)
81 in that she had an equally good relationship with all stakeholders. Erin also mentioned the opportunities to grow and get into areas of expertise or personal interest. m iddle sc hool changed due to staff turnover in the last year. The previous staff had opened the school together and was very strong and close the first few years. The staff had participated in a variety of team building activities. Many of the younger teachers left and the climate changed and the staff was not as cohesive as before. Erin believed The high school had after the first year and the staff worked together and experienced very little turnover. The school rece (SP.I.4.2.15). The principal believed the grade could be improved and focused on collaboration, building rapport with the students, and emphasized the importance of graduation and a hi gh school diploma. Erin felt that her role was close to what she expected but that was due to the fact that she had worked in a state that adopted an RTI model several years ago. Due to her experience, Erin was assigned the additional responsibilities of RTI coach in both her schools. According to Erin, this has allowed her to build more rapport with the staff and feel more a part of the faculty. She revealed that she enjoys this role more and found
82 Ro les and Responsibilities Erin reported that she spen t two to three day s per week at each school. Each school had a designated student services day and a variety of meetings were scheduled the entire day. These included meetings with teachers to review int erventions and data, RTI meetings with the administrative team, and special education meetings with student services personnel. Meetings related to drop out prevention were held in the afternoon. On non meeting days, Erin did paperwork, completed re evalua tions, and performed RTI coach duties. These duties included facilitating weekly to biweekly meetings with the RTI team at the school. She was responsible for preparing the agenda, guiding the problem solving process, and accessing data. Erin also provided trainings and presentations to the staff. The high school followed a similar schedule meetings were held on one day and all other responsibilities were addressed on the non meeting day. Needs Erin was next asked to describe what has worked well, identi fy barriers, and and RTI multi administrative support, barriers included staff turnover because of t he need to differentiate training. Erin also noted that some teachers felt that psychologists and RTI were preventing students f rom qualifying for special education by requiring intervention data before determining eligibility.
83 Case Five: Fran Influences and Background Fran received her undergraduate degree in Puerto Rico and her graduate degree in Virginia. She recently completed her sixth year as a school psychologist in Gator County. When asked what influenced her to enter the field of school psychology Fran acknowledged the influence of a previous professor. She had completed a n internship in a daycare and became interested in the fields of both education and psychology and was encouraged to investigate school psychology. Values, Culture, and Percept ions When asked about what she valued about being a school psychologist, Fran the opportunity to work with families. Fran is a native Spanish speaker and reported that During the previous school year, Fran was assigned to two Title 1 elementary schools, but she described two diffe rent cultures and attitudes among staff. One school has a more veteran staff that is familiar with the population and has strong behavior management skills. However, the stress due to new teacher evaluations lowered morale among the staff and they appeare d more frustrated with the RTI process than the staff rom staff at this school.
84 using E xcel to assist in making graphs, comparing data with subgroups, and pulling data together to make decisions. Testing is done to test a specific hypothesis and not for determining a learning disability. Roles and Responsibilities Fran spent three days per week at one school and two days at the other. Each school had a designated student services day and a variety of meetings were scheduled for the entire day. At one school, Fran was also responsible for the clerical part of the meetings, which included sch eduling the meetings and sending out meeting notices. She also collected data, graphed data, and facilitated these meetings. These included meetings with teachers to review interventions and data, RTI meetings with the administrative team, and special educ ation meetings with student services personnel. On non meeting days, Fran completed evaluations, observed students, and conducted counseling groups. The second school followed a similar schedule meetings were held on one day and all other responsibilitie s were addressed on the non meeting day. However, at this school, someone else handled the clerical aspects of scheduling meetings. Needs Next, Fran was asked to identify barriers, along with what she felt she needed to strengthen her practice. Besides lim ited time and resources to develop and implement
85 considering all the other responsibilities. Case Six: Gail Influences and Background Gail received both undergraduate and graduate degrees from a university in Florida. She recently completed her fifth year as a school psychologist in Gator County. When asked what influenced her to enter the field of school psychology, Gail revealed that she had always been interested in psychology. She had planned on entering a .6) made school psychology a better option. Values, Culture, and Perceptions When asked about what she valued about being a school psychologist, Gail stated she always wanted to help children. However, her role was much different than what she expected. W hen Gail first entered graduate school, the focus was more assessment. She then took a break to have a child and then re entered the field. During that time, many changes in education occurred and Gail did not feel that she had the knowledge base in areas such as RTI and consultation. During the previous school year, Gail was assigned to three schools, which included an elementary school, a middle school, and a charter schoo l that served a kindergarten to 8 th grade population. RTI was implemented more full y at the elementary school and Gail reported that the teachers were more receptive than at the middle school and open to different types of suggestions for interventions. The morale across
86 tion of doing more Roles and Responsibilities Gail describe d her days at her assigne d schools. She spent three days per week at the elementary school and two days at the middle school. The charter school was on an as needed basis but needed more behavioral consultations as the year progressed. As stated by the other psychologists, each school had a de signated student services day and all meetings were scheduled for the entire day. The ing others in Excel Gail had been the only one to graph data at the elementary school. Non meeting days were spent collecting data, administering tests, observing students, and meeting with families. Knowledge of the RTI process appeared to be somewhat l ess at the middle school. The and teachers continued to refer to the discrepancy model when d iscussing special education. She encountered more reluctance, and defiance and refusal on occasion, in terms of gathering data. After a large number of students were determined to be was necessary in terms of explaining the process and the necessity of collecting data.
87 Needs Gail was asked to identify barriers, along with what she felt she needed to strengthen her practice. S he expressed concerns related to the subje ctivity of eligibility much different from concrete guidelines would prevent an emotional decision being made. Conclusion In the above section of this chapter, individual profiles were p rovided for the school psychologists interviewed for this case study. These profiles were provided to supply readers with descriptions of how the participants enact their roles in the educational setting. Detailed descriptions also allow the reader to unde rstand the phenomenon studied and draw interpretations about meaning and significance (Patton, 2002). In the next section of this chapter, an examination of the cross case analysis is provided, along with a discussion of the findings. In the final chapter implications and recommendations from the findings are presented The Cross Case Analysis The results of the cross case analysis identified the collective actions of th e se school psychologists in order to gain a better understanding of how they make sen se of their roles. Taking into consideration all the data collected, several key themes were identified and these are illustrated in Table 4.1
88 F ive major themes emerged from the cross case analysis. First, the role of helper was emphasized. The school ps ychologists valued the opportunity to help students, teachers, colleagues, administration, and families. Second, the participants themselves coped with their changing roles in different ways. The role of the school psychologists was perceived as having cha wa s anxiety and confusion about role identity and some seem ed more comfortable with this change than others. The third theme that emerged was the redefining of r oles. Th e psychologists were beginning to find their voice, both individually and as a group, and were building on their strengths. The school psychologists themselves were at differing levels of expertise and comfort with the change. The fourth theme to e merge was related to the level of readiness and preparedness the psychologists felt they had in order to be successful in their new roles. This varied according to the school site, graduate training, previous work experience, and the strengths and interest s of the psychologists. The last theme that surfaced was related to the importance of administrative supports. Targeted district based training and professional development, along with a strong, supportive school based administrative team, were both mentio ned as crucial to their own role in RTI Theme #1: Joining a H elping P rofession When interviewing the school psychologists and asking them what attracted them to the profession, along with what they valued most, all responded with a variation of the role of a helper. Helping was not limited to students. The school psychologists in this study also valued helping teachers, administration, colleagues, and families. As Gail
89 valued helping others in the schools. I believe it is important to get to know the teachers and students better by bein g an active member of the school and not just a district employee. This has made the biggest difference with establishing the perception of the school psychologist as a team player. Now I am approached for things besides just my job. I have a mentee, I go into classrooms and give teachers mini breaks, and I volunteer for things outside of the job. This helps by contributing to a positive climate of a school. (SP.I.6.2.29) Carol also emphasized the opportunity to help others, but in a more data oriented d medical conditions interact with student functioning. She is currently a doctoral candidate in this field at a local university. able to assist by problem solving, whether the bar riers are physical, mental, or emotional. I love both of my schools. I enjoy working directly with people so having the opportunity to interact with families, teachers, and students is very fulfilling to me and I value being able to see children grow and m ake progress. I help gather and interpret Tier 1 data and assist with problem solving, so I am seeing the growth with large groups, small groups, and individuals. I get the perspective across all three areas. (SP.I.2.1.23) David also acknowledged being dr awn to the helping side of school psychology. In his current role as an RTI coach, he had taken more of a systems approach when assisting school personnel. I found psychology interesting as an undergraduate, but realized I could not do much with just a bac [school psychology] to be a good fit. Besides the obvious of wanting to work with kids and helping them, I enjoyed the nerdiness part with assessment and statistics. I am more comfortable with data than the counseling part. I didn't expect the meetings, paperwork, and bureaucracy. I like the accomplished something. I work more with school leaders and in a different way. Now I look more at systems and help others through the problem solving process and decision making. (SP.I.3.1.24)
90 Each participant referred to the personal importance of joining a helping profession, although helpfulness was often characterized in different ways Som e valued opportunities to provide relational support and classroom assistance, others preferred providing school wide support through the provision and analysis of data to support decision making. Whatever its form, the opportunity to provide professional assistance appeared to be highly valued Theme #2: Coping with C hanging R oles Consistent with research documenting changes in the roles of school psychologists, each participant reported some degree of change in their role and some stated they were more comfortable with the changes than others. Each mentioned a variation on the statement expressed by Adam that the practice of school psychologists no longer exists in their schools Erin reacted more positively to the change than some others based on her experiences. I am now considered more a part of the staff and have built rapport with them. They trust me and it works at these two schools. I am happy the discrepancy model went away. I felt like we were gate keepers using that model to determine eligibility. (SP.I.4.3.11) Gail, on the other hand, was not quite as comfortable in this new role. Unlike Erin, her professional experiences were different. She had planned to enter a program in clinical psychology, b ut changed her mind after becoming pregnant and starting a family Gail felt that school psychology was a better choice for her at the time but her expectations did not match with the nature of the practice in this school district Even though it was not required by the district, during the first couple of years I was combining full evaluations along with the RTI information. Now an uncomfortable feeling because I am sitting at the table for eligibility and I
91 away and I almost feel like a seat filler at meetings instead of a worthwhile participant. Students are being brought to the table and they do not look any different from their peers. It feels like it has gone from one extreme to the other. A student can be made eligible for special education at on school and not the other. In some schools, RTI has become a documentation of interventions needed for eligi bility purposes rather than a true problem solving process. But who is supposed to address that? (SP.I.6.3.32) The reduction in the provision of direct services by school psychologists was also a concern. Fran who spends two days a week at each of her as signed schools, revealed some frustration about the increase in meetings and clerical duties at the expense of other responsibilities more directly related to students who need support One day at each school is strictly set aside for meetings. Each school in the district has an assigned school based intervention team meeting day and this is set by the district. All itinerant staff attend these meetings on an as needed basis. At one school, I set up the master schedule, send reminders to teachers about upc oming meetings, decide what data are needed, graph data if possible, and facilitate the meetings. We have no control or power over teachers and we usually discuss four students each day and spend about 30 45 minutes on each student. The rest of the day usu ally focuses on meetings for behavior concerns or any other concerns teachers may have. I end up spending another half day setting up meetings and prepping for them, which can be frustrating. Eighty percent of my time is spent in meetings or prepping for m eetings and I have other skills. My second students and someone else does the scheduling. I wish I could do more counseling and groups instead of getting pulled for other things. (SP.I.5.4 .10) The psychologists in this study have more responsibilities and perform more duties than testing students to determine eligibility for special education. All reported an increase in meetings and collaborating with others. The traditional testing duty r emains but it has changed. Assessment is now completed to test certain hypotheses and the psychologists reported more freedom in selecting assessments to administer. Some of the participants appear to be embracing these changes but some report anxiety and confusion with this role change.
92 Theme #3: Redefining R oles -M aking I t work Each participant referred to how they made sense of their changing patterns of practice by red ef ining their roles on their own terms. In some cases, they redefined their professi onal strengths and gained confidence in expressing their professional views. Fran acknowledged that she has become stronger with voicing her opinions and expressed concerns with using RTI to determine learning and emotional/behavioral disabilities. She emp hasized her concerns with the subjectivity and vagueness of eligibility determinations, along with how reliance on classroom data based on response to intervention has affected her role in the process of identifying students for special education Fran is redefining her role by becoming stronger and more confident with her opinions and making more demands that students are correctly identified. When RTI started, the psychologists were introducin g it and considered "experts T hen the legality part of it bec ame more important. Who is responsible for saying the interventions are or are not appropriate or done with fidelity? It gets sticky since we have no control or power over teachers and then we use this information to make decisions with long term consequ but I want the best data possible to make eligibility decisions. (SP.I.5.4.7) Betty drew on her experience as a special education teacher and touched on the difficulties with the actual practice of RTI. She reported that staff often understands the theory but the actual implementation is much more difficult, especially at the secondary level. Betty is redefining her role by assisting with the actual development and implementation of inte rventions and progress monitoring. My role has changed from a person conducting assessments to more of a consultant. My roles are different at different schools and it depends a lot on what the school needs. Overall, I do more data collection. Sometimes I am the one collecting the data and graphing the data. I do a lot of that. I also assist teachers in developing interventions and tweaking them so the
93 intervention matches the deficit. Teachers, and schools as a whole still have a difficult time doing this because of limited programs and time. (SP.I.1.3.9) Carol focused on the importance of team building, culture, and establishing consensus among stakeholders within her two schools She has redefined her role to include more of those responsibilities. We'r e literally in meetings for an entire day so we have to do all our other responsibilities on the other day which is hard to balance. It's challenging to figure out how you're going to balance doing evaluations, meet with families, and provide therapeutic services. But I like the fact that RTI can prevent a lot of problems occurring in the future and at a more intensive level if they are addressed at the core level. Both of my schools are trying to address problems at the core level so we don't have as m any kids being brought up for evaluations. There is less individual problem solving so we can use our time more efficiently and effectively. I like to be involved at the very beginning and help to facilitate the Tier 1 meetings and this way I can prioriti (SP.I.2.4.22) The psychologists in this study appear to be re defining and re establishing their own roles. There are some non negotiables related to job responsibilities but each psychologist seems to be ca rving out their own niches in their schools based on their strengths and interests, as well as the varying needs of the schools in which they work. Theme #4: Varying Contexts and Perceptions of Readiness The perceptions of readiness and preparedness appe ared to be influenced by prior experience, the focus of graduate training, and personal strengths. In a study completed by Machek and Nelson (2007), it was discovered that school psychologists who rated themselves as knowledg e able about and comfortable wit h RTI were more likely to endorse the use of it. T here are differences among involvement with school psychologists depend ing on their comfort level and where they
94 were trained ESE teacher helped her understand the implementation of RTI a little better Fran was a little more hesitant in her acceptance of RTI. She agreed with the overall premise of providing interventions and support, but had difficulties with using this infor mation to determine eligibility for special education. may make a different decision. RTI was never made for ESE eligibility. It was a way to make sure to not miss kids who need ed support or make sure kids would not wait for services everyone is comfortable or understands the questions that have to be answered. I want things to be more black and white and concrete. (SP.I. 5.4.7) Before movin g to Florida, Erin had worked in a nother state that had already adopted an RTI model and her previous experience influenced her comfort level with the model. She also served in the role of RTI coach, as well as school psychologist, in both schools due to t his experience. The state where I previously worked had eliminated the discrepancy mode l several years ago. I was learning about RTI, curriculum based measurement, and developing local norms in 2002. I moved to Florida in 2006 and I brought that experience here. The state pilot program began during my second year and I was made a coach due to my experience. Now my role is both school psychologist and RTI coach at two schools. (SP.I.4.1.19) Gail seemed the least comfortable with the changes in her role. She stated she was not sure of what position to take or when to take a stand. Should she be the only one questioning the fidelity of the interventions and the decisions made using questionable data? My work as a school psychologist was different than what I th ought it would trained in the consultation part of it. Gator County was further along with RTI and the expectations of the knowledge base of the school
95 psychologists were different from w hat I was used to. There was a big learning curve and I was uncomfortable in the beginning (SP.I.6.1.14 ) Theme # 5 : Needing Support from School and District Administrators Each participant also mentioned the importance of administrative support. Strong d istrict based training and professional development, along with a supportive school based administrative team, was crucial in helping the school psychologist address their new roles and responsibilities within an RTI framework. Carol noted that The focus o f the training provided by the state was more program evaluation than providing skill sets that the schools could use to implement RTI. The district department identified the need for more training and created a step by step plan on how to build consensus among stakeholders. The district plan, funded by Race to the Top grant money, took the state plan and made it more regimented with detailed, specific, and linear guidelines for implementation. A specific plan was developed as to what was required based on were certain things that personnel would be trained to do if the school was in year 1, year 2, etc. T raining provided by the district included school based activities to identify resources, progress monitoring too ls, and data collection n eeds. It seems that the school personnel that only received the district trainin g and not the state training have a deeper skill set with regard to the practical side of implementation. (SP.I.2.2.4) This idea of school based admini strative support was reiterated by all participants expectations of the administration. The teachers are eager to delve in and do t RTI, along with everything else in the school, depends on the involvement of the administration. The school psychologists have no real power to make teachers do something. The relationship between administration and the staff is important and it makes a huge difference if the administration is involved. You can only push so hard if the grade level team is not taking responsibility or making excuses for data. It all really depends on the involvement of the administration and if the administration will hold teachers accountable. Schools do or do not move along in the process depending on the administration. (SP.3.2.6)
96 Every participant noted the importance of training based on the needs of the school and a strong school based administration. This was a theme that ran through each interview. When school leadership teams changed, the effect on the entire RTI implementation including the roles and responsibilities of personnel, was immediate. Discussion The data collected in this study through interviews and d ocument analysis reflect the changing role of the school psychologist within an RTI framework. Several factors influenced this changing role, including the interest, training, and expertise of the individual school psychologist. The participants themselves were at differing levels of comfort and acceptance of the new role. Some were excited and optimistic about the changes in their roles, others were finding their voice and discovering their role, and others were coping with unmet expectations. District bas ed professional development and a strong school based administration appeared to be crucia l in helping the school psychologist address their new roles and responsibilities. and influenced the roles and responsibilities of the school psychologist wi thin each school. The first t wo research question s focused on the professional roles and responsibilities of school psychologists. The participants were asked the reasons they entered the field of school psychology and all reported wanting to help others, whether it was helping students, families, teachers, or systems. Results indicated that these participants are collaborating more with others at a school level and involved more with the development of interventions and progress monitoring. Administration of psycho educational tests lessened and the school psychologists interviewed often used the
97 The next two questions were related to how the school psychologists are making sense and defining their roles These professionals are taking a more active part in defining their own role, but roles continue to vary depending on the context and culture of the individual school buildings. Their day to day responsibilities are partly based on their past experiences their training, and their personal interests and skills but continue to fall within the realm of the broad job description adopted by the district The last question was related to what was needed to strengthen the practice of these participants. Every participant acknowledged the importance of district based professional development, local training targeted to the specific needs of the school, and a strong, supportive administrative leadership team. The literature confirms the importance of administrat ive support, both in the areas of professional development and school based leadership (Kovaleski, 2007; Putnam, 2008; Stollar et al., 2008). In summary, identified key issues in managing the new roles of school psychologists were related to the reasons wh y the participants entered this particular helping profession, how they are coping with the changes, and how the participants themselves are redefining their roles. Two important variables were consistently mentioned by this group of school psychologists: a strong school based administration and district based professional development geared to the local needs. These findings are illustrated in Table 4 1. In Chapter 5, I will discuss conclusions and implications and provide recommendations. f Reflection Before this study began, I recognized that that my background and personal experiences were critical to the process and development of this study. All data are
98 analyzed and reported through the subjective lens of the researcher and the result is a how to manage it is critical to qualitative research (Glesne, 2006; Merriam, 1996). As stated earlier, I have been employed as a school psychologist for over 20 ye ars and have experienced the changes that RTI has had on the field. I felt that the familiar with the terminology and similar processes and procedures. Because of the fact that school psychologists are managing these changes, I felt I was able to connect with the participants and noted some similarity with each one. school personn el. I also believe that it is a more efficient use of time to assist with problem solving when issues are first apparent, rather than waiting until later and having mor e students who have similar difficulties. Like David, I enjoy the investigative process and figuring out how to solve problems, I do see the importance of the graphical representation of progress, but not as comfortable with statistics as David. Erin and G ail seemed the least comfortable with their new roles and responsibilities. I have felt the same stress and anxiety, especially using RTI data to determine eligibility for special education. Gator County does not require a full, comprehensive evaluation to determine SLD, but the district in which I am employed does require this. Similar to what Gail said, seat
99 I began working in the field when the main respons ibility consisted of testing and assessment and this was the focus of my previous graduate study. Like Gail, I experienced a big learning curve when Florida transitioned to this model. As stated by Erin, the number of meetings has increased and can be over whelming at times. The importance of building leadership and targeted professional development was mentioned by all participants and I can attest to this fact. Working in schools where principals have a knowledge of RTI is very different from working in sc hools where Many of the benefits and challenges that were mentioned by these participan ts were very familiar to me and my coworkers. I hope I have done justice in telling their stories.
100 Table 4 1. Categories and Themes Question Themes Sub Themes How do school psychologists describe their professional responsibilities? How do they perceive their current practice within an RTI framework? How do they make sense of their changing roles? How prepared do they feel for enacting their roles and meeting their responsibilities in their current assignments? What do they need to strengt hen their practice within the RTI framework? Joining a helping profession Coping with changing roles Redefining roles Varying contexts and perceptions of readiness Needing support from school & district administrators Helping colleagues Help ing students Helping with data Positive experiences Unmet expectations Finding voice Building on strengths University training Work experience Personal interest Relevant professional development Principal leadership
101 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSIONS IMPL ICATIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS The purpose of this study was to explore the issue of the changing roles of the school psychologist in an RTI framework by examining the perspectives of six school psychologists and one supervisor of psychological services in one large Florida school district. Sense making theory provided the theoretical lens to frame the inquiry. The basic premise of sense d, 2005). The overa ll question guiding this study wa s this: How do school psychologists describe what they do and what they need as they make sense of their changing roles in schools that have adopted an RTI process? Sub questions guiding this inquiry inc lude d : 1. How do school psychologists describe their professional responsibilities? 2. How do they perceive their current practice within an RTI framework? 3. How do they make sense of their changing roles? 4. How prepared do they feel for enacting their roles and meeting their responsibilities in their current assignments? 5. What do they need to strengthen their practice within the RTI framework? This chapter provides conclusions based upon the findings, a discussion of the implications for practice, a nd recommendations for future research. Results of this study support the research findings previously reported in the literature review in Chapter 2. This study contributed to the research on the changing role of school psychologists and how these roles a re being redefined.
102 Conclusions This study included interviews with six school psychologists and one supervisor of psychological services. Results from the cross case analysis revealed f ive major themes: 1. When interviewing the school psychologists and aski ng them what attracted them to the profession, along with what they valued most, all responded with a variation of the role of a helper. 2. The roles of school psychologists have changed and some were more comfortable with the changes than others. 3. School psyc hologists are redefining their roles for themselves by finding their voice and building on their strengths. 4. The perceptions of readiness and preparedness appeared to be influenced by prior experience, the focus of graduate training, and personal strengths. 5. District based professional development targeted to specific needs and strong and supportive school based leadership is crucial in helping the school psychologist address their new roles and responsibilities. The desire to help others has been documented in the literature as a factor in deciding to enter the field of school psychology (Fagan & Wise, 2007). An interest in education, wanting to help children and families, and a humanitarian philosophy have all been reported as reasons for studying school ps ychology. Grehan, Flanagan, and Malgady (2011) conducted a study examining characteristics of successful school psychology students. Findings indicated that conscientious students who were able to perceive, understand, and manage emotions would be more suc cessful communicating ideas and empathizing with involved parties. It is also important for school psychologists to have interpersonal and collaborative skills (Conoley, Conoley, & Reese, 2009). All participants reported a significant change in their day t o day responsibilities, duties, and roles. These findings appear to be consistent with the current literature in
103 this area ( Burns & Coolong Chaffin, 2006; Canter, 2006; NASP, 2010). Research indicates an overall decrease in assessment and an increase in di rect intervention and problem solving consultation when an RTI model is implemented (Burns & Coolong Chaffin, 2006 ; Larson & Choi, 2010 ). School psychologists can now focus on how to able to expand their role by using their knowledge of learning theory, child development, home school collaboration, consultation, and other areas of psychology (Lau et al., 2006). School psychologists do not exist or function in a vacuum and collaboratio n with teams has become much more important. The role of the individual school psychologist is guided by a combination of factors that influence how the psychologist will fulfill the functions of assessment, intervention, consultation, and research. Fagan and Wise (2007) identified these characteristics as: a) personal factors, b) job site characteristics, and c) external forces. Personal qualities include demographic variables, type of schooling, life experiences, and professional training factors. In addi tion, the professional interests, the reasons for choosing school psychology, and expectations are also considered significant personal factors. Job site characteristics include job descriptions and school system expectations, as well as the number of st udents the psychologist is expected to serve. This was reflected in the job description and RTI implementation schedule adopted by the district. Other job related factors include the school structure and grade levels of the students, the location of the di strict, i.e., urban, rural, or suburban; and the administrative organization of the school, including expectations for the psychologist, previous district
104 experiences with psychological services, and the presence of related personnel (Fagan & Wise, 2007). Larson and Choi (2010) surveyed 189 practicing school psychologists and discovered that the participants in their study perceived themselves as at least somewhat or adequately prepared to perform all the roles indicated in the study. However, 70% of the p articipants reported a need for additional training in progress monitoring of intervention fidelity and various models of RTI. This need was reiterated by the participants in the present study. The need for ongoing professional development was stressed by Barnes and Harlacher (2008). According to these researchers, it is crucial that professional development consist of a frequent review of skills and was also identified a s an important area for review. A third area identified as a need was learning how to translate research into practice. These ideas were all mentioned in some form by the participants in this study. According to Putnam (2008), building a nd district lev el leadership has the greatest impact on the implementation of RTI. Principals are responsible for ensuring that the core curriculum and interventions are implemented consistently and with fidelity (Kovaleski, 2007). Lau et al. (2006) referred to the build on RTI implementation. A common theme endorsed by the participants in th is study was the importance of a strong building level admini stration for the school psychologist to successfully address their new roles and responsibilities within an RTI framework
105 Implications and Recommendations for Practice Fundamental factors of RTI involvement encompass not only daily involvement in the RTI process but also ongoing training in the methods to be utilized. Along with the ir involvement in RTI is the willingness of school psychologists to be open to changes in their roles along with a willingness to improve and expand their skills if necessar y These skills include progress monitoring, assessing evidence based interventions, evaluating instructional and program outcomes, and designing and evaluating problem solving methods. Successful RTI implementation does not happen without planning, traini ng, and ongoing professional development. Batsche, Curtis, Dorman, Castillo, & Porter ( 2007) reported that one time or minimum training is not effective or adequate in ensuring that learning and integration occurs. Instead i t is crucial that professional de velopment be ongoing and structured with a conscious focus on the areas to be addressed These areas should include specific information related to different assessment practices to be used in RTI, high quality instruction and assistance with data based d ecision making for instruction and intervention recommendations (Harlacher & Siler, 2011). In considering RTI professional development for school psychologists, it is important to consider that many school psychologists have varying degrees of knowledge a nd experience with RTI. S chool psychologists will need different types and levels of professional development depending on where they are on the learning spectrum associated with RTI. Being aware of the changing roles of school psychologists is another imp ortant factor in planning for their RTI professional
106 sho uld address three major factors ; system design expertise, team collaboration, and serving individual students (NAS P, 2006). These activities can range from assisting with RTI planning and training needs for districts, collaboration and ongoing consultation with RTI teams regarding interventions and progress monitor ing tools and providing screening and assessment of s functioning (Crepeau Hobson & Hobson, 2010). By getting involved with RTI, school psychologists can use their skills with consultation and training with teachers, staf f, and parents ( Reschly & Ysseldy ke, 2002). School psychologists with more diverse roles have been found to be more satisfied with their jobs ( Brown, Holcombe, Bolen, & Thomson 2006; Proctor & Steadman 2003). Curtis, Grier, and Hunley (2004) defined an expanded role of the school psych ologist as a facilitator who can assist with coordinating resources in order to respond to needs of families, students, classrooms, schools, distric ts, and communities. These researchers also noted that the various levels of services involve school psychol ogists in problem solving and data based decision making. Brown et al. found that school psychologists who were involved in an expanded role, including more consultation and intervention services, experienced high levels of job satisfaction. The authors fo und t hat school psychologists wanted to spend more time involved in direct and indirect interventions. Berninger (2006) found that RTI allows school psychologists greater flexibility to have increased consultation opportunities and more time to spend invol ved in intervention related activities.
107 Implications for Future Research initiatives related to their professional practice within educational settings. Merriam (1998) noted de scriptive case studies such as the present study, can be helpful in illustrating patterns of practices used by educational professionals, and in forming a data With that in mind, future research mi ght build on the present analysis by exploring how school psychologists in a variety of other contexts make sense of their changing practices and related needs for support in implementing RTI. Further research is need ed to explore the ongoing training nee ds of school psychologists in light of the ir changing roles and how specific preparation affects their perceptions of working within an RTI context Specifically further research is needed on the impact of ongoing training for school psychologists in prog ress monitorin g tools and methods evidenc e based interventions, skills in evaluating instructional and program outcomes, and designing and evaluating problem solving mo dels Strengthening professional performance in these areas should have a positive impa ct o n the perceptions and involvement of school psychologists in the RTI process and on positive outcomes for students (NASP, 2006). and training related to academic conten t would also likely be informative. RTI is a comprehensive service de livery model and it is assumed preparation and perceptions of competence in the assessment and intervention of academic areas such as writing, math, and reading would also provide information that would help in analyzing the concerns and support needs psychologists have in implementing RTI.
108 Concluding Statements With the implementation of RTI, the roles of school psychologists have significantly changed. It is cr itical that school psychologists continue to be open to changes in their role and involvement in the RTI process (Canter, 2006). With the changes that are associated with the RTI process, sc hool psychologists have opportunities to expand their role from on e of referral and assessment to one focusing on consultation and intervention for students (Sheridan & Gutkin, 2000 ). Evidence suggests that school psych ologists who have greater knowledge and comfort with RTI have a higher likelihood of endorsing the use of it ( Machek & Nelson, 2007). The changes in the roles of school psych ologists prompted by the emphasis on interventions and problem solving provide a unique opportunity for school psychologists to help in defining the future of their field and the role sc hool psychologists play with students in the school setting. RTI implementation provides opportunities for school psychologists to diversify their skills, expand the ir roles, and become an important part of the process for providing consultation, ongoing t raining for educators, and improving support for students. School psychologists must m to one of advocacy and working to assist with overall needs (Braden, DiM arino Linnen, & Good, 2001) The changes associated with RTI activate the need for ongoing research to determine the factors that impact perceptions of RTI and the resultin g process.
109 APPENDIX A COP Y OF UF APPROVAL LET TER
110 APPENDIX B INFORMED CONSENT SUPERVISOR OF SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS Informed Consent Protocol Title: THE CHANGING ROLE OF SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS IN SCHOOL WIDE MODELS OF RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION Please read this consent document car efully before you decide to participate in this study. Purpose of the research study: The purpose of this study is to examine h ow school psychologists assigned to elementary schools understand, explain, and manage their roles in school s that have impleme n t ed an RTI framework. What you will be asked to do in the study: You are asked to participate in one interview. You will be asked to discuss the factors that led to the volunteering of the district to be a pilot district in RTI implementation. You will also be asked to nominate four to six mid career school psychologists assigned to elementary schools who seem to be successfully managing their roles within the context of RTI. You may also be asked to participate in follow up conversations or emails. Ti me required: 1 hour for interview Risks and Benefits: There is no more than minimal risk to you. Some people may experience discomfort at sharing personal information in an interview. There is no direct benefit to you. The findings from this study may ad d to understanding of the work of school psychologists and what school districts can do to strengthen the roles of school psychologists. Confidentiality: Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. Your information will be assig ned a code number. The list connecting your name to this number will be kept in a locked file in my office. When the study is completed and the data have been analyzed, the list will be destroyed. Your name will not be used in any report. Voluntary partic ipation: Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. There is no penalty for not participating. Right to withdraw from the study: You have the right to withdraw from the study at any time without consequence. Whom to contact if you have ques tions about the study:
111 Dena Landry, Doctoral Candidate, School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies, University of Florida, 239 248 0285 Jean Crockett, Ph.D School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Child h ood Studies, 1403 Norman Hall, P.O. Box 117050, Gainesville, FL 32611 Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study: IRB02 Office, Box 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, F 32611 2250 Phone: 352 392 0433. Agreement: I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the procedure and I have received a copy of this description. Participant: Date: Principal Investigator: Date:
112 APPENDIX C INFORMED CONSENT SC HOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS Informed Consent Protocol Title: THE CHANGING ROLE OF SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS IN SCHOOL WIDE MODELS OF RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION Please read this consent document carefully before you decide to participate in this study. Purpose of the rese arch study: The purpose of this study is to examine how school psychologists understand, explain, and manage their roles in schools that have implemented an RTI framework. What you will be asked to do in the study: You are asked to participate in one i n depth interview. You will be asked to discuss your beliefs and attitudes about being a school psychologist. You will also be asked to describe your day to day work as a school psychologist, how you make sense of your role, and what you need to strengthe n your patterns of practice, and in turn, the educational system. You may also be asked to participate in follow up conversations or emails. Time required: 1 hour for interview Risks and Benefits: There is no more than minimal risk to you. Some people m ay experience discomfort at sharing personal information in an interview. There is no direct benefit to you. Some participants may appreciate the opportunity to reflect upon their work. The findings from this study may add to understanding of the work of s chool psychologists and what school districts can do to strengthen the roles of school psychologists. Confidentiality: Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. Your information will be assigned a code number. The list connect ing your name to this number will be kept in a locked file in my office. When the study is completed and the data have been analyzed, the list will be destroyed. Your name will not be used in any report. Voluntary participation: Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. There is no penalty for not participating. Right to withdraw from the study: You have the right to withdraw from the study at any time without consequence.
113 Whom to contact if you have questions about the study: Dena Landry Doctoral Candidate, School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies, University of Florida, 239 248 0285 Jean Crockett, Ph.D School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childh ood Studies, 1403 Norman Hall, P.O Box 117050, Gainesville, FL 32611 Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study: IRB02 Office, Box 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, F 32611 2250 Phone: 352 392 0433. Agreement: I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the procedure and I have received a copy of this description. Participant: Date: Principal Investigator: Date:
114 APPENDIX D INTERVIEW PROTOCOL SUPERVISOR OF SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS Overall Theme: This interview has two objectives: Establishing the school district context in which a change initiative was implemented affecting the roles of school psychologists; and seeking the nomination of participants for the study from a school dis trict administrator. Questions for the Coordinator of Psychological Services Your school district was one of the first in the state to adopt school wide models of Response to Intervention: 1) What led to the decision to become a pilot district for this cha nge initiative? a. When did the district join the pilot project; who led the initiative; what was the scope of the initiative; where were the models implemented; how many schools are now involved? 2) How has the adoption of RTI affected the roles of school psychologists in your district? b. What has worked well from your perspective? i. What has led to this success? c. What has been less successful? i. What do you see as the barriers? ii. What would help? 3) I am interested in interviewing participants for this study who are working in elementary schools in your district. What do you consider to be successful management of the roles? Could you nominate 4 to 6 mid career school psychologists who are successfully managing their changing roles within an RTI context?
115 AP PENDIX E INTERVIEW PROTOCOL SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS QUESTIONS FOR SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS 1. How do you describe your professional responsibilities? 2. How do you perceive your current practice within an RTI framework? 3. How do you make sense of your changing roles? 4. How prepared do you feel for enacting your roles and meeting your responsibilities in your current assignment? 5. What do you need to strengthen your practice within the RTI framework? Question 1 includes probing questions that include but are not limited t o the following: What does it mean to be a school psychologist? Why did you become a school psychologist? What do you see as the main purpose of this work? Question 2 includes probing questions that include but are not limited to the following: What is it like now to be a school psychologist in an elementary school today? What kinds of things do you do as part of your practice? Questions 3, 4, and 5 include probing questions that include but are not limited to the following: How do you negotiate the ga ps between your expectations and your current practice? What or who has helped you learn about your new role? How prepared do you feel? How do you decide what to do and what not to do? How do these choices make you feel?
116 APPENDIX F DISTRICT JOB DESCRIPTIONS AND EXCERPTS OF DISTRICT MANUALS JOB TITLE: SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST Revised 9/16/97 JOB DESCRIPTION: This employee is responsible for the delivery of comprehensive psychological services. Duties of this position include but are not lim ited to: 1. Planning and Development: a. Participation in the development of the comprehensive plan at the school and district level. b. Participation in the development of short and long term goals for the school psychological services program. c. Participation on school and district committees. d. Participating as part of a Student Service Team. 2. Services to Students: a. Conducting comprehensive psychological evaluations that include but are not limited to the assessment of intellectual, developmental, academic, s ocial/emotional and behavioral status. b. Assessment and data collection by use of informal or nonstandardized evaluation techniques. c. Interpreting and utilizing assessment data for the purpose of writing psychological report s and developing written intervention plans. d. Counseling students individually and in groups. e. Providing crisis intervention. f. Utilizing the Student Service Team as a resource for students. 3. Service to Parents: a. Providing training on a w ide variety of topics including but not limited to child development and effective parenting. b. Assisting parents in locating available educational and mental health resources. c. Consulting with parents regarding ps ychoeducational information and inter ventions. 4. Service to Teachers: a. Consulting with teachers and administrators regarding specific students. b. Assisting in the development of teacher implemented interventions. c. Assisting with school wide programs. d. Providing inservice tr aining. 5. Service to Community: a. Participating in the development of educational and community partnerships. b. Working with communities to improve the lives of students. 6. Professional Development:
117 a. Attending inservice meetings and co nferences to develop professional attitudes and skills. b. Maintaining professional skills through re ading of current literature and professional memberships. 7. Program Evaluation: a. Participating in program evaluation. b. Assisting in the desig n and implementation of program evaluation. 8. Other Duties and Responsibilities: a. Supervising school psychology interns and practicum students. b. Participation in research. REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS 1. Master's degree or above 2. State Certif ication in School Psychology 3. Initial health examination that includes screening for tuberculosis to assure no significant risk to the health and safety of others. DESIRED QUALIFICATIONS 1. Training in accredited school psychology programs 2. Advanc ed training 3. Classroom teaching experience 4. Successful experience in like position. *Pre K/Head Start only: Current and former parents or guardians of children served by the Prekindergarten/Head Start prog ram must receive preference for employment in vacancies for which they apply.
118 Fall 2011 2012 PS/RtI Year 1 Expectations 1. School Based Leadership Teams (SBLT)/Additional Teams 1. Representative SBLT is established (E very Ed included, at least two general education teachers with one specific t o target grade) 2. Roles of team members are defined (e.g., facilitator, recorder, time keeper, etc.) 3. Team and meeting norms are developed 4. Regular monthly meetings are scheduled 5. Areas of focus and goals for PS/RtI le adership meetings are devel oped (creating a guided plan for sequence of meetings, agendas, and action plans) 6. Administration attends all meetings; visibly supports the team and actively communicates and demonstrates the value and importance of the process 7. Gradual release of responsibility: Team ide ntifies at least one additional facilitator for targeted grade early in the year. At the end of the year, internal facilitator facilitates or co facilitates grade level problem solving. ed 1. School wide needs are identified: Faculty develops awareness of academic and behavioral needs 2. Rationale for PS/RtI is established 3. Core Principle Activity is completed if needed 4. Connections with existing systems and initiatives are made 5. Develop/align mission statement, core values/school wide beliefs 6. Rationale for school wide focus (including PS/RtI) is communicated to staff through small and large group presentations throughout the year 7. Teams will be able to identify the schoo ls top pri orities and understand the rationale for the priorities 3. General PS/RtI Knowledge 1. Within SBLT, big ideas of RtI are understood and can be fluently com m unicated (e.g., four steps of problem solving, definition of RtI, school improvement in itiative, all students can learn, core principles) 2. Big ideas of RtI are communicated to other stakeholders through small and large group presentations throughout the year 4. Problem Solving is Used as a Way of Work 1. Time is designated for team(s) to discuss Tier I issues for at least one grade level/academic area 2. Tier I problem solving occurs at least once after each benchmark assessment period i. Problem ID ii. Problem analysis
119 iii. Instruction/intervention development iv. Response to inst ruction/intervention 3. Teams engage in strategic planning/small group problem solving to address Tier I issues 4. Teams will maintain appropriate documentation of each step of problem solving including fidelity of instructional practices and student out comes. 5. Infrastructure 1. Resource inventory is drafted for at least one academic/content/behavior area that includes: i. Assessment ii. Instruction iii. Problem solving iv. Professional Development 2. By the end of the year, i. Assessment: By the end of the year, schools will have selected at least one common assessment that link to desired outcomes, and an agreed schedule of administration for selected grade level ii. Instruction: By the end of the year schools will use Tier I materials, hu man resources, instructional routines, and schedules to ensure a guaranteed and viable core instruction for the selected grade level iii. Problem Solving: Schools will select meeting structures in which Tier I discussions will occur, identify assessments to utilize during meetings, and who will facilitate. iv. Professional Development: The te am will complete a professional 3. An early warning system is established in secondary schools to assist with data based decision making 6. PS/RtI Professional Development 1. SBLT members attend scheduled PD sessions 2. SBLT members complete skill ass essments and practice during PD sessions 3. SBLT members complete homework 4. School based admin istration attends all PD sessions; demonstrates support for the team and importance of process 5. Evaluation tools are completed (e.g., P SAPSI, Problem Solving Rubrics, PLC Continuum, BoQ)
120 Fall 2011 2012 PS/RtI Year 2 Expectations 1. School Based Lea dership Teams (SBLT)/Additional Teams 1. Representative SBLT is maintained (Every Ed included, at least two general education teachers with one specific to target grades) 2. Roles of team members are defined and updated (e.g., facilitator, recorder, time keeper, etc.) 3. Team and meeting norms are reviewed at least once 4. Regular monthly meetings are scheduled 5. Areas of focus and goals for PS/RtI le adership meetings are developed (determine what the team should know, understand, do relative to PS/Rt I, creating a guided plan for sequence of meetings, agendas, and action plans) 6. Administration begins to facilitate SBLT meetings with support; visibly supports the team and actively communic ates and demonstrates the value and importance of the process two trained facilitators that will independently facilitate grade level meetings (e.g., prepare Tier I and Tier II data, facilitate each step of problem solving, etc.) 8. Grade level teams, departments, committees, and instructional teams are developed as Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) aligned and connected with RtI 1. School wide needs are identified/updated ba sed on new data 2. Continue developing faculty awareness of academic and behavioral needs 3. Rationale for PS/RtI is reiterated and deepened with entire staff. Presentations to communicate Tier I & II data continue, separate meetings occur to discuss ac ademic and behavior data; framework is expanded to additional grade levels/departments when appropriate 4. Connections with existing systems and initiatives are made; integrate new trainings/initiatives into PS/RtI framework (maintain the focus on RtI ac tivities 5. Continue aligning mission statement, core values/school wide beliefs 6. Continue promoting and deepening the rationale for school wide focus (including PS/RtI) with staff through smal l and large gro up presentations throughout the year 7. Teams will be able to identify the schools top priorities and understand the rationale for the priorities
121 3. General PS/RtI Knowledge 1. Within SBLT and targeted grade level teams, big ideas of RtI are understoo d and can be fluently communicated (e.g., four steps of problem solving, definition of RtI, school improvement initiative, all students can learn, core principles) 2. Big ideas of RtI are communicated to other stakeholders through small and large group pr esentations throughout the year 4. Problem Solving is Used as a Way of Work 1. Time is designated for team(s) to discuss Tier I/Tier II issues (based on data) for multiple grade levels/academic areas 2. Problem solving occurs at least once after each b enchmark assessment period. Analysis of data indicates the focus of problem solving (i.e., Tier I/II) i. Problem ID ii. Problem analysis iii. Instruction/intervention development iv. Response to instruction/intervention 3. Teams engage in strategic pl anning/small group problem solving to address Tier I/II issues 4. Teams will maintain appropriate documentation of each step of problem solving including fidelity of instructional practices and student outcome 5. Infrastructure 1. Resource inventories are drafted for multiple academic/content/behavior areas across multiple grade levels that include: i. Assessment ii. Instruction iii. Problem solving iv. Professional Development 2. By the end of the year, i. Assessment: By the end of the year, sch ools will have selected multiple common assessments that link to desired outcomes, and an agreed schedule of administration for selected grade levels ii. Instruction: By the end of the year schools will use Tier I/II materials, human resources, instructi onal routines, and schedules to ensure a guaranteed and viable core instruction for the selected grade levels iii. Problem Solving: Schools will select meeting structures in which Tier I/II discussions will occur, identify assessments to utilize during m eetings, and who will facilitate. iv. Professional Development: The team will update a professional
122 6. Professional Development (PD) 1. SBLT members attend scheduled PD sessions 2. SB LT members complete skill assessme nts and practice during PD sessions 3. SBLT members complete homework 4. School based administration attends all PD sessions 7. Evaluation 1. Overall RtI Implementation i. P SAPSI ii. Behavior evaluations (required if PBS training has been completed) 1. Benchmarks of Quality 2. PBS Implementation Checklists 2. Problem Solving i Problem Solving Rubric 3. Available optional assessments i. Benchmarks for Advanced Tiers (BAT) behavior ii. PLC Continuum (from Learning by Doing) problem solving
123 Fall 2011 2012 PS/RtI Year 3 Expectations 1. School Based Leadership Teams (SBLT)/Additional Teams 1. Representative SBLT is maintained (Every Ed included, at least two general education teachers with on e specific to target grades) 2. Roles of team members are defined and updated (e.g., facilitator, recorder, time keeper, etc.) 3. Professional development and coaching supports are provided to new SBLT members 4. Team and meeting norms are reviewed at l east once 5. Regular monthly meetings are scheduled 6. Areas of focus and goals for PS/RtI le adership meetings are developed (determine what the team should know, understand, do relative to PS/RtI, creating a guided plan for sequence of meetings, agendas and action plans) 7. Administration independently facilitates SBLT meetings with support; visibly supports the team and actively communicates and demonstrates the value and importance of the process ility, targeted grades will have two trained facilitators that will independently facilitate grade level meetings (e.g., prepare Tier I, Tier II and relevant Tier III data, facilitate each step of problem solving, etc.) 9. Grade level teams, departments, committees, and instructional teams continue developing as Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) aligned and connected with RtI 10. SBITs meet and engage in problem solving to address the needs of individual students; this team includes general educati on and special education representation. 1. School wide needs are identified/updated based on new data 2. Continue developing faculty awareness of academic and behavioral needs 3. Administration will coord inate and provide presentations providing the rationale for PS/RtI with entire staff. Presentations to communicate Tier I & II data continue, separate meetings occur to discuss academic and behavior data; framework is expanded to additional grade levels/de partments when appropriate 4. Connections with existing systems and initi atives are made; integrate new trainings/initiatives into PS/RtI framework (maintain the focus on RtI activities 5. Continue aligning mi ssion statement, core values/school wide beliefs 6. Continue promoting and deepening the rationale for school wide focus (including PS/RtI) with staff through smal l and large group presentations throughout the year
124 7. Promote consensus and the rationale for Tier III problem solving and intensive intervention supports for a small amount of high risk students the rationale for the priorities 9. Opportunities to communicate data in ver tical meetings will be provided (including receiving and exit meetings at the beginning and end of the year) 3. General PS/RtI Knowledge 1. Within SBLT and targeted grade lev el teams, big ideas of RtI are understood and can be fluently communicat ed (e.g., four steps of problem solving, definition of RtI, school improvemen t initiative, all students can learn, core principles) 2. Big ideas of RtI are communicated to other stakeholders through small and large group presentations throughout the year 3. Problem solving modules are provided by the SBLT to instructional staff. 4. Problem Solving is Used as a Way of Work 1. Time is designated for team(s) to discuss Tie r I/II/III issues (based on data) for multiple grade levels/academic areas 2. Stude nts are identified for Tier II and Tier III problem solving based upon level of student risk (i.e. Data Referrals) 3. Problem solving occurs at least once a fter each benchmark assessment period. Analysis of data indicates the focus of problem solving (i.e ., Tier I/II) i. Problem ID ii. Problem analysis iii. Instruction/intervention development iv. Response to instruction/intervention 4. Problem solving occurs for at risk groups of and individual students more frequently 5. Teams will maintain approp riate documen tation of each step of problem solving including fidelity of instructional practices and student outcomes at Tiers I, II and III 5. Infrastructure 1. Resource inventories are drafted for mult iple academic/content/behavior areas across multi ple grade levels that include: i. Assessment ii. Instruction iii. Problem solving iv. Professional Development 2. By the end of the year, i. Assessment 1. Screening/Benchmarking: Schools will have selected multiple common assessments that link to d esired outcomes, and an agreed schedule of administration for selected grade levels
125 2. Progress Monitoring: Schools will identify tools to progress monitor groups and individual student performance. Tier II and Tier III data might be either more frequent and/or skill specific. 3. Diagnostic: Data are collected to confirm/disconfirm research based hypotheses with an ultimate goal of informing instruction 4. Treatment Fidelity: Teams will be responsible for identifying multiple methods of collection ins truction/intervention fidelity information. Fidelity data will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of response to intervention/instruction. ii. By the end of the year schools will use Tier I/II/III materials, human resources, instructional routines, and schedules to ensure a guaranteed and viable core instruction for the selected grade levels iii. Problem Solving: 1. Schools will select meeting st ructures in which Tier I/II/III discussions will occur, identify assessments to utilize during meetings, and w ho will facilitate 2. Schools will maintain documentation to ensure problem solving fidelity iv. Professional Development: 1. The team will update a professional development matrix/plan 6. Professional Development ( PD) 1. SBLT members attend scheduled PD sessions 2. SBLT members complete skill assessments and practice during PD sessions 3. SBLT members complete homework 4. School based administration attends all PD sessions 5. New SBLT members will receive supplemental PD supports as needed 7. Evaluation 1. Overall RtI Implementation i P SAPSI i i. Behavior evaluations (required if PBS training has been completed) 1. Benchmarks of Quality 2. PBS Implementation Checklists 2. Problem Solving i Proble m Solving Rubric 3. Available optional assessments i. Benchmarks for Advanced Tiers (BAT) behavior ii. PLC Continuum (from Learning by Doing) problem solving
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136 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Dena Frances Land ry was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1967. She was adopted at birth by Nolan Landry, a social worker, and Charlotte Landry, a teacher, and raised in southwest Louisiana. She attended Louisiana State University and earned a in December 1988. She immediately began graduate studies in psychology at the now University of Louisiana at Lafayette. After graduation in 1988, she began working as a school psychologist in Vermilion Parish, a small, rural parish west of Lafayette, Louisiana. Dr. L andry moved to Naples, Florida in 2001, and worked with a private psychologist for three years. In January 2004, she re entered school system practice as a school psychologist in Lee County. In August 2004, she joined the Collier County Public Schools as a school psychologist and is currently employed in this capacity Dr. Landry received her Ed.D. in Special Education with an emphasis on administration and policy from the University of Florida in December of 2012.