School Psychology 2010: Demographics, Employment, and the Context for Professional Practices-Part 1

Article excerpt

PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE

Being acutely aware oftheneedfor data to inform its own positions and policies, as well as to support its efforts to influence policies and legislation and to advocate for children, youth, and families, the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) established a policy in 1989 mandating a national study of the field every 5 years. The purpose of the studies was to generate a comprehensive description of the field of school psychology across the United States, as well as to allow for analyses of changes in the field over time. The first study collected data based on the 1989-1990 school year (Graden 8c Curtis, 1991). Subsequent studies were completed every 5 years followingthe initial study: 1994-1995 (Curtis, Hunley, Walker, 8c Baker, 1999); 1999-2000 (Curtis, Grier,Abshier, Sutton, 8c Hunley, 2002); and 2004-2005 (Curtis, Lopez, Castillo, Batsche, Minch, 8c Smith, 2008). It has become apparent in the years since adoption of the NASP policy that the data generated through the mandated studies have proven valuable not only to NASP, but to other national and state professional associations, to school districts, and even to individual school psychologists. The data reported here reflect the most recent NASP study and are based on the 2009-2010 school year.

This article is the first in a two-part series. This report will describe the demographic characteristics of school psychologists across the United States as well as the context within which school psychologists work. The second article, which will appear in the June, 2012 issue of Communiqué, will report on the professional practices of school psychologists who are employed full-time in schools.

METHOD FOR DATA COLLECTION

Instrumentation. These data were collected through completion of a survey instrument. The instrument employed in the initial 1989-1990 study was developed, revised, and finalized based on pilot testing with a group of practicing school psychologists, review by NASP leadership, and review by a panel of experts (Graden & Curtis, 1991). Input was solicited from NASP leadership prior to revision of the survey instrument used in the present study, and a draft of the instrument was then reviewed by those persons prior to being finalized.

The 2009-2010 survey is available on the NASP website (http://www.nasponline .org/advocacy/Mbr_Survey_2009_Final.pdf). The survey included a total of 39 items, all of which were to be answered based on the 2009-2010 school year. All respondents were asked to complete items 1-19, which solicited information relating to demographic characteristics such as primary position, age, gender, ethnicity, years of experience in school psychology, classroom teaching experience, level of preparation, credentialing, and professional association membership. Items 20-39 were to be completed only by school psychologists who reported their primary employment being full-time in a public, private, or faith-based preschool, elementary school, middle/junior high school, and/or high school. Items 20-39 solicited information relating to two general areas. The first pertained to the context for the responding school psychologist's professional practices (e.g., type of setting; ratio of students to school psychologists; percent of ethnic minority students served; contract days; salary, receipt of administrative supervision; and receipt of professional support, mentoring, and/ or peer supervision). The second area related to professional practices (e.g., initial special education evaluations and révaluations, 504 Plans, consultation, counseling, student groups, inservice programs, and presentations for parents) and asked for an estimate of the number completed/conducted, as well as the percent of total work time invested in different activities.

PARTICIPANTS AND PROCEDURES

A mailing list was computer generated and represented 20% of NASP regular members, randomly selected by state to provide for geographical representation. …