Demonstrating Scope, Capacity, and Contributions of School Psychology Through Our Research Expertise
By Patti L. Harrison
A priority initiative for NASP in 2009–2010 is to develop the research base that demonstrates scope, capacity, and contributions of school psychology. NASP uses research in different forums, including advocacy, legislative activity, communication with stakeholders, preservation of school psychologists' positions, summaries of empirical support for our contributions, evaluation of school programs, identification of needs in graduate programs, and other key initiatives to support school psychologists and our services. For example, NASP gathers information related to the evidence base of academic and social–behavioral interventions, state credentialing practices, numbers of school psychology graduates entering the work force, and demographic and professional characteristics of school psychologists. During the coming year, NASP will continue to gather and communicate these data, as well as facilitate collection of data by individual school psychologists to demonstrate the specific outcomes of their services.
How do school psychologists use research in their daily work? NASP (2000) standards for graduate education, credentialing, and practice, as well as the proposed 2010 revision of the standards, emphasize research as a major foundation for service delivery by school psychologists. School psychologists use their knowledge of research design, statistics, and data analysis as critical consumers of research reported in journals, books, and other resources, as well as to communicate the potential implications of research evidence in their work settings. School psychologists also demonstrate applied research skills in data collection, measurement, and analysis to support effective practices in schools. For example, in collaboration with other school staff, school psychologists use research techniques in individual case studies, evaluation of program effectiveness, and interpretation of assessment and progress data.
School psychologists' research expertise has received additional emphasis in NASP's recent advocacy efforts to support school psychologists as essential personnel in schools. Proactive strategies in schools to communicate the many contributions of our services, as well as to respond to threats such as potential school psychology staff reductions and limitations in roles and activities, rely on support provided though research. For example, research assists in identifying local or state needs and trends for children and schools that target issues for which our roles are valuable. Program evaluation research supports the measurable positive impact of school psychology services and other school programs. Workforce data at local, state, and national levels (e.g., numbers and characteristics of school psychologists, school psychologist-to-student ratios, shortages in our field, salaries, etc.) provide basic information about current status and future needs.
NASP provides many resources to support the research expertise of our members. We have a new, comprehensive NASP Research Center website (http://www.nasponline.org/advocacy/researchmain.aspx) that includes research summaries, studies conducted by NASP, reports, fact sheets, national and state workforce data, and other excellent materials. Our NASP periodicals, School Psychology Review, School Psychology Forum, and Communiqué, and books published by NASP highlight the latest research and its application. Our NASP Research Committee coordinates the many research activities of our association, including graduate student research grants and a comprehensive demographic survey of NASP members conducted every 5 years. The 2010 NASP convention in Chicago, with more than 1,000 sessions, includes multiple resources about research and practice in school psychology. For example, the convention includes a President's Special Strand on Promoting Competence for Children, Families, and Schools: Direct Outcomes of School Psychologists' Services and a featured symposium on How We Know Our Services Work: Evidence-Based Practice by School Psychologists, jointly sponsored by NASP and APA's Division 16.
Barbacane (2009) noted that school principals rely on our expertise in research-based strategies and recognize our skills in interpreting and applying data to evaluate outcomes of school services, among our many other roles. The research foundations of our field, our knowledge of empirical evidence in psychology and education, and our applied research skills improve our practice and value in schools. In many school psychologists' work settings, we are the primary resources for understanding how research and evaluation can be used best for promoting competence for children, assisting families and educators, and contributing to school improvement efforts.
Barbacane, R. (2009, July). School psychologists and principal collaboration. NASP Summer Conference, Bethesda, MD.
National Association of School Psychologists. (2000). Standards for training and field placement programs in school psychology and standards for the credentialing of school psychologists. Retrieved October 20, 2009, from http://nasponline.org/standards/FinalStandards.pdf