Reviewed by Sam F. Broughton
Practical Handbook of School Psychology: Effective Practices for the 21st Century By G. G. Peacock, R. A Ervin, E. J. Daly III, & K. W. Merrell (Eds.) 2010, Guilford
The Practical Handbook of School Psychology (PHSP) is a reference that should be in the hands of every school psychologist, unless there might be one somewhere who will never come under the paradigm shifting influence of the problem-solving model or RTI. This nearly 600-page volume is not the brief, how-to, quick fix cookbook of handy tips that the word practical might conjure. It is a hefty scholarly treatment of responseto- intervention methodology, particularly the problem-solving model. It is practical in the sense that it is loaded with useful information about adopting and implementing a problem-solving approach to RTI, from basic concerns to advanced technical features. It is revolutionary in its implications for general education through its documentation of the effectiveness of school-wide, evidence-based practices.
PHSP is an edited text. This might turn some readers against it, but it should not. The chapters are better organized and integrated than most edited books, so that the volume holds together well as a single work. In each chapter, authors helpfully reference complementary or related material in other chapters elsewhere in the volume. They also reference the seminal research in the areas about which they are writing, making each chapter an authoritative treatment of each topic. The writing style and format is standardized among chapters and across authors in a way that avoids the disjointed sense that accompanies many edited works. Many of the 78 contributors are heavy hitters in school psychology, RTI, and problem- solving research and practice.
The 34 chapters in PHSP are organized into 6 sections. Part I The School Psychologist as a Problem Solver: Establishing a Foundation and a Vision is composed of two chapters that clearly describe the foundations and rationale of the problem-solving model. Part II Assessment and Analysis: Focus on Academic Outcomes is composed of six chapters that examine the issues and methods involved in assessing cognitive processes and basic academic skills, as well as the development and monitoring of academic interventions from assessment data. Part III Assessment and Analysis: Focus on Social–Emotional and Behavioral Outcomes provides four chapters covering similar assessment and monitoring issues for disruptive and internalizing behaviors. Part IV Implementing Prevention and Intervention Strategies is the largest section with 16 chapters. With a strong emphasis on evidence-based practice, this section covers the gamut from proactive, preventive strategies through basic academic and behavioral interventions to parent training, problem-solving skills training, and cognitive–behavioral interventions for depression and anxiety. Interventions for severely challenging behaviors and psychopharmacological interventions are detailed, as well. Part V Evaluating Interventions provides two chapters that discuss the processes of aggregating, summarizing, evaluating, and drawing inferences from intervention data plus the practical aspects of using data in making the intervention enterprise truly evidence-based. Finally, Part VI Building Systems to Support the Problem-Solving Model includes four chapters reviewing the issues involved in the collaborative nature of assisting school systems in implementing problem-solving methodology and evidence-based interventions within increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse school systems. Basic techniques and procedures are outlined as well as issues involved in scaling up recommended practices to the school and system level. While all of the chapters are well integrated and organized under the text’s organizational structure, each chapter can stand alone as a reference for readers who have the prerequisite knowledge to use the particular chapter’s information. For those without the prerequisite knowledge, other chapters in the book can be used to come up to speed.
This book will provide the next step in background for those who have only an introductory knowledge of RTI and the problem-solving model. It will provide a stimulating integration of knowledge for those more familiar with the RTI/ problem-solving process. It will be a welcomed text for school psychology trainers who have previously had to draw from multiple and diverse reference sources to cover such a broad range of material. And as previously noted, it should become an indispensable practical handbook for every school psychology practitioner.
Sam F. Broughton, PhD, NCSP, is the Robert W. Williams Professor of School Psychology and the coordinator of graduate studies in school psychology at Francis Marion University.