Washington State Association
of School Psychologists    

Uniting school psychologists to support all students through advocacy, leadership, and professional development. 

2019 Spring Lecture Series

The 2019 Spring Lecture Series is now open for registration! Click here to find more information and register!

Archived Spring Lecture Series

You can now access previously aired Spring Lecture Series, dating back to 2014, for a discounted price! Please go here for more information.

Call for Action to Prevent Gun Violence in the United States of America

WSASP is proud to endorse the the “Call for Action to Prevent Gun Violence in the United States of America” authored by the Interdisciplinary Group on Preventing School and Community Violence. For more information and to endorse this individually, please go to the following link.

President's Message

We as school psychologists graduate from one of the master’s degree (Ed. S) programs with the greatest quantity of coursework, and in my opinion one of the highest levels of intensity. In contrast, you can teach most average adults how to administer an academic or intelligence test, in a standardized manner, without a great deal of coursework time. So, why the massive difference? There are quite a few domains within our practice that are not related to completing psychoeducational evaluations, yet can help us to develop the art of completing a psy-choeducational evaluation, taking us beyond the level of a psychometrician.

What on earth is the art of completing a psychoeducational evaluation? To me, it is about knowing how to create convergent data so that we know, not think, that our results are valid. Then, having the information needed to help the teachers and parents best help the student to be successful accessing their education.

This can be as simple as knowing when a subtest just does not appear to be measuring what it is reported to be able to measure. The following are two examples from students within the past year. First, a third-grade student whose score on the Coding Subtest just didn’t appear to fit with any of the other data provided during the testing (diverging instead of converging). Upon discussing this with my intern, who had administered the subtest, he described the student as being very concerned regarding the “shape” of the responses. The data that did converge was the parent and teacher comments that the student writes very slowly, because he will erase anything that doesn’t look “right” to him. Therefore, the Coding Subtest was not measuring processing speed (from a cognitive sense), but instead measuring (documenting) this student’s issues around perfectionism. My intern administered a substitute subtest, purported to measure the same skills, and the student’s score tripled. A second example was a 4th grade student who scored at the early first grade level for applied math problems (letting go of our issues about grade scores for this story). This didn’t appear to be about her math skills, but instead issues she is demonstrating with language pro-cessing. So, after standardized assessment was completed, “testing the limits” was done with this student. She was simply asked three questions (Which number is the first important number? Which number is the second important number? And, what are you supposed to do with these numbers?). She then scored on grade level.

In the first scenario, the additional work helped the team to have convergent data and to be able to better plan for the student (working on being “OK” with letters that are not perfect when you have to write by hand and working on typing skills). In the second scenario, we were able to focus her specially designed instruction on understanding the key words within story problems and creating solution sentences.

We are likely moving to qualifications using either RTI or PSW (possibly both methods will be available). After recently attending Dr. Alfonso’s talk at our state conference (about the 10th training on PSW I have been to and the first useful talk), I was very happy to better understand cross battery assessment as a component of PSW and their model (the Dual Discrepancy Model). I was also excited to hear him talk about us not demonizing the tests.

Our tests are simply tools, nothing more and nothing less. None of them are perfect and none of them are highly flawed. The problems almost always stem from us picking the wrong test for the situation and/or using the data in a way that doesn’t apply to the situation.

For example, is there anything wrong with testing the reading of a language learner in English? Absolutely not! How-ever, if one believes that that test tells us anything about whether or not the student can read, then that school psychologist has inappropriately used the test. The student may in fact read, just not in English. Also, the only usages of the reading test in English is to use the LE3AP process described in the books my wife and I have written and additionally to potentially to establish a baseline. That is, the team needs to Look at Exposure, Experience, Expectation and Practice to determine whether or not that individual student’s data is useful or not in determining learning rate in reading in English. For example, if you had 3-4 like peers (same language, exposure, expectations and interventions) and this child had learned to read in English at a similar rate as the like peers, then you have potentially meaningful data for the student of concern.

In conclusion, the science of our profession still remains very important. That is, we need to know about what tests there are, what they measure, the strengths/weaknesses of those tests, and how to correctly administer the tests. Then, we need to develop our “art.” That is, how to know when the test has measured what it is built to measure and what to do to actually achieve convergent data to prove our opinion. Last, we need to know how to take that information and create meaning for others, the teachers and parents. This allows the IEPs to be written based upon the results of the evaluation (instead of the testing some teachers do after an evaluation states the student is eligible). As we move to either or both the RTI (MTSS) and PSW models of SLD qualification, we need to build both our science of psychoeducational assessment and our art of psychoeducational assessment. And, I will argue the art is where our future as school psychologists lies.

Please note that there are letters in this edition of the SCOPE from Dr. Steve Hirsch and Dr. Vincent Alfonso related to this topic. It is great to have this opportunity to provide a perspective alongside these gentlemen. 

Dr. Steve Gill
WSASP President

Washington State Association of School Psychologists
PO Box 525
Cheney, WA 99004
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