Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Getting It Right So They Can Get It Right: An Overview of the Special Series. (Special Topic)

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Getting It Right So They Can Get It Right: An Overview of the Special Series. (Special Topic)

Article excerpt

Abstract. This article reviews the studies making up this special series on academic assessment and intervention in light of new federal education law and study of special education by the federal government. It is argued that the appearance of these unsolicited articles is a further indicator of changing expectations on the part of the field for school psychology practice. The article also attempts to highlight features of the studies that help to address some as-yet-unresolved measurement and intervention issues.

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"It's a poor workman that blames his tools. If you can't make them work. make some that do."

Dr. Homer Stryker

Orthopedic Surgeon, inventor, and founder of Stryker Corporation

Lest we lose sight of the goal of all of our professional efforts amidst federal, state, and local initiatives; multiple and competing demands for our time; and the sheer busyness of schools, it is essential to keep in mind that there would be no problem in the first place if the student got the right answer when the teacher asked for it. It is when the student does not get it right that the school psychologist may be called in. Alarming numbers of students do not get it right. Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP, 2002) indicate that only a minority of students are proficient in basic math and reading skills, and that the trajectories of low-skilled students are not improving while the trajectories of higher skilled students are improving.

We are thankful for the opportunity to comment on the fine articles that have come together for this special series. Each article was unsolicited. So, one can interpret the timing of their submission as a significant statement about the prominence that direct assessment and intervention-based services are gaining. For years, proponents of direct assessment methods have been working on refining the techniques. These same proponents have been advocating the positive benefits students might experience if these methods were systematically incorporated into important educational decisions. To date, however, without strong external pressures for change educators and researchers have been essentially mining the subjunctive by declaring benefits students would or could gain of only professionals would make them an integral part of service delivery. Increasing external pressure on the field is likely as a result of two recent and related developments. First, with President Bush's new reform legislation, No Child Left Behind, the backbone of achieving the goal of skill proficiency for all students by 2014 is accountability and empirically proven practice. School psychologists will be well positioned to contribute constructively to monitoring accountability with measures that are sensitive to meaningful types of academic growth.

Concerns about accountability and effective practice are also echoed by the President's Commission on Excellence in Special Education (PCESE, 2002) whose charge it was to study and recommend reforms for America's special educational system. Among other things, this Commission recommended the use of high quality and relevant accountability tools in assessing students' needs and a focus on students' response-to-instruction as an alternative to traditional, categorical eligibility determination models. Interestingly, it appears that these themes--accountability in the form of assessment and empirically validated interventions--represent useful organizing rubrics for commenting on the studies in this special section. The following articles will help to refine and expand school psychologists' direct assessment and intervention repertoires.

The advent of curriculum-based measurement (CBM) and its rapid increase in popularity brought the issue of measurement sensitivity to the forefront for many school psychologists.. School psychologists could now carve out at least part of their role as one of facilitating measurable change in student performance (as opposed to assessing presumably fixed, inalterable individual differences variables). …

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