Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Developing a More Relevant Evaluation Rubric

Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Developing a More Relevant Evaluation Rubric

Article excerpt

My colleagues and I recently faced a major challenge in advocating for an evaluation tool that looked very different than that developed for classroom teachers. It was important to us to ensure that other stakeholders, including administrators and union representatives, understood the value of an evaluation tool used to assess our practice that truly reflects the work we are capable of doing and adequately represents our full scope of practice. We realized that we had to educate these stakeholders on the extent of our training and our ability to provide services at the individual, group, and systems levels that go far beyond traditional assessment for special education services.

MAKING THE SHIFT TO AN EVALUATION TOOL THAT REFLECTS OUR WORK

Previously, Charlotte Danielson's evaluation rubric for teachers and school psychologists had been used as the basis for the evaluation. Triennial evaluation of tenured staff included evaluation and observation by one's supervisor, and while the rubric itself was not usually given a great deal of weight in the evaluation process, everyone involved seemed to believe that the rubric descriptors did not adequately describe the comprehensive role of school psychologists in our district. There was an overemphasis on school psychologists' role in assessment, and less attention given to other areas of practice, including those relating to mental and behavioral health services and systems-level consultation. While school psychologists in our district largely practice a broad-based role and are well-respected for the diversity of our skills and experience, the tool used to evaluate our performance did not reflect that reality. After spending a great deal of time developing an evaluation tool for teachers that emphasized a professional growth model, the district shifted its focus to evaluation of those in specialized areas of practice, including school counselors, special education teachers, and school psychologists. Along with several members of our school psychology team, I volunteered to assist in the process to create an evaluation rubric that would more accurately reflect a broad scope of practice and that would help us in developing meaningful plans for professional growth and development.

UNDERSTANDING AND MEETING CHALLENGES

Some people were resistant to changing the previous norm and expressed concern that this change might unnecessarily or unintentionally call out or imply that school psychologists were "special." On the other hand, we often face challenges when district administrators do not understand the true depth and breadth of our training and professional practice. Luckily, school psychologists in our district have served for some time in a comprehensive role and have gained the respect of our colleagues and the administrators with whom we work on a daily basis. Having their support was critical in communicating with others about the extent of our practice in schools.

For example, it was extremely important to engage our special education director, who completes the evaluations, in the process. As a former school psychologist, he understood how important it was to create a document that was reflective of the work that we are capable of doing. We benefited from the fact that he is knowledgeable about the NASP Practice Model, and we discussed how this could be used as the basis for the evaluation rubric. He became a crucial ally who supported our role in the process and was instrumental in advocating for the work that we were engaged in on a daily basis to ensure that the evaluation rubric would be one that accurately reflected our role in schools. The resulting tool incorporates language from a number ofkey documents, including the NASP Practice Model and the NASP Standards for Training and Practice, as well as our own state's licensing guidelines and laws governing school psychology training.

Perhaps most importantly, we had to ensure that our team of school psychologists was united in seeing the relevance of these efforts. …

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