Academic journal article The California School Psychologist

School Psychologists as Instructional Consultants in a Response-to-Intervention Model

Academic journal article The California School Psychologist

School Psychologists as Instructional Consultants in a Response-to-Intervention Model

Article excerpt

The 2004 authorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act affords an opportunity to shift the classification of Learning Disabilities (LD) from a "refer-test-place" to a Response-to-intervention (RtI) service delivery model. As a result, there are implications for the professional activities of school psychologists. School psychologists, who historically devoted much of their time to testing struggling learners for learning disabilities, will need to engage in a different type of practice, specifically providing instructional consultation in a tiered assessment and intervention model. This article describes instructional consultation skills and knowledge school psychologists must possess to promote the learning outcomes of students with achievement deficits, including students with disabilities. Survey data collected from 249 California school psychologist practitioners highlight the need to modify school psychology pre-service training and on-going professional development to enable school psychologists to become effective instructional consultants.

KEYWORDS: Response to Intervention; RtI; Instructional Consultation; School Psychology Service Delivery.

The Response-to-intervention (RtI) Zeitgeist emerged with the 2004 re -authorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, which provided states the option of determining whether a "child responds to scientific, research -based intervention" for identifying underachieving students with specific learning disabilities (SLD; IDEIA, 2004). SLD eligibility under RtI is determined when a child's academic performance fails to improve even when increasingly intensive, empirically supported interventions have been implemented (Hagans-Murillo, 2005; see Jimerson, Burns, & Van D er Hey den, 2007 for a review of contemporary scholarship related to RtI). The reauthorization specifically requires a data-based decisionmaking process for identifying and serving students who are referred for learning difficulties, including students who are English Language Learners (ELLs; IDEIA, 2004). One of the greatest challenges currently facing the field of special education and related services is training personnel to effectively meet these new requirements for identifying children with LD using a RtI model (Canter, 2006; Graden, 2004; Kratochwill, Volpiansky, Clements, & Ball, 2007; NJCLD, 2005).

Most RtI service delivery models are based on three tiers of intervention with a student progressing from one tier to the next if quality interventions at each level fail to stem the student's persistent or worsening academic skill deficits (Fuchs et al., 2008). RtI is grounded in the provision of instructional consultation at each level of service, and represents a major paradigm shift from the traditional psychometric activities associated with a "refer-test-place" model (see Table 1). Instructional consultation and problem-solving models upon which RtI are based have been researched (e.g., Bergan & Kratochwill, 1990; Jimerson, Burns, & VanDerHeyden, 2007; Rosenfield, 2002) and used in practice for many years in states such as Iowa (Ikeda, Rahn- Blake slee, Niebling, Gustafs on, Allison, & Stumme, 2007), Minnesota (M ars ton, Lau, & Muyskens, 2007), and Illinois (Peterson, Passe, Shinn, & Swerdlik, 2007). Despite being practiced and researched, RtI remains relatively new to many school psychologists; as such their knowledge and ability to support empirically based instruction and monitor a child's response to that instruction may be limited. However, school psychologists' knowledge of assessment and access to multiple instructional contexts makes them ideal candidates to assume the role of instructional consultant. In short, to move from a refer-test-place model to a RtI model of service delivery, school psychologists must move from providing primarily psychometric services to delivering consultation services within a tiered instructional model. …

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