What Do School Psychologists Do? Promoting Our Value and Ensuring Our Essential Roles

Article excerpt

School psychologists engage in numerous activities that enhance children's learning and mental health. However, many school administrators, teachers, parents, and students have a limited understanding of school psychology and few direct experiences with school psychologists. Do our stakeholders know who we are, what we do, and why we are important resources for them? In an age of state education budget cuts, reductions in school district staff and programs, school accountability demands, family financial crises, three-tiered service delivery, expanded provision of school mental health services, and numerous other impacts, it is that school psychologists promote that we are essential and valued personnel within schools.

Apriority initiative for NASP in 2009-2010 is to support schoolpsy-chologists' efforts with regard to changing roles and services within schools, NASP activities for 2009-2010 reflect the importance of maintaining effective services for children, proactivery defining our roles, preserving school psychologists' positions and practices, and responding to threats that could influence our field at state and local levels. NASP's coordinated activities are critical at the national level as well, given a new U.S. Department of Education, the upcoming Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization, and related bills.

During 2009-2010, NASP will continue a comprehensive public awareness campaign at local, state, and national levels to promote and protect the roles of school psychologists. In 2008, our research with key stakeholder groups found that administrators, principals, and school board members, who set budget and service priorities during these tough economic times, often have limited knowledge and differing perceptions about school psychologists' areas of expertise. Thus, they were targeted as the recipients of key messages about school psychologists' unique and essential contributions, as illustrated in the document, "What You Need to Know About School Psychologists" (NASP, 2009a). During 2009-2010, national partnerships with principals and administrators will continue to connect the work of school psychologists with school improvement efforts. For example, during summer 2009, NASP's education policy platform, "Ready to Learn, Empowered to Teach" was aligned with the National Association of Secondary School Principals' document, "Breaking Ranks II: Strategies for Leading High School Reform" (NASP, 2009b). Plans are underway for the next phase of the public awareness campaign, which includes collaborating with school administrators to develop topic briefs that showcase school psychologists' areas of expertise and preparing additional tools and resources for use by school psychologists at the local level.

Each individual school psychologist plays an important role in communicating his or her professional identity and promoting the contributions of school psychology services, school by school. …

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