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Paul H. Henkin Memorial Scholarships Awarded to Catherine Goffreda and Gabriel Gutierrez

By Karen O'Brien

NASP is fortunate to have been included in Dr. Paul H. Henkin’s estate plan, thus establishing a scholarship program to recognize excellence in applied research or program design for newly credentialed school psychologists. Because of his generosity, we are able to award one scholarship annually at the NASP convention to a NASP member whose research is accepted for presentation. However, this year we are happy to be able to award two scholarships! The Awards Committee is pleased to announce that Catherine Goffreda, PhD, and Gabriel Gutierrez, PhD, are our 2011 Paul H. Henkin Memorial Scholarship recipients. Forty-eight applications were received for this year’s award; all applicants have been credentialed as a school psychologist within the last 3 years. The Awards Committee narrowed the field using a rubric assessing relevance to the NASP priority goals, applicability, and development of the research design.

Catherine Goffreda

Catherine is in her first year as a school psychologist with Guilford County Schools in Greensboro, North Carolina. She provides comprehensive services in an elementary, middle, and high school and is an RTI coach for the elementary schools in her district. She serves on the district crisis team and autism assessment team. Her research interests are in the psychometric properties and utility of progress monitoring and universal screening measures, effectiveness of academic and behavioral prevention and intervention methods within an RTI model, and the effects of physical activity on classroom behaviors and academic achievement. She has been publishing articles and presenting on these and other topics since 2005. Catherine attained her PhD in school psychology from Pennsylvania State University in August 2010.

Catherine presented a paper at the San Francisco convention entitled "Linking Energizers to Academic Performance in Rural Elementary Schools." The goal of the study was to determine the impact of a classroom-based physical activity program (Energizers) on first and second grade students’ classroom learning and behavior. Energizers (Mahar, et al., 2006) is a scripted program of classroom-based physical activities. Catherine’s hypothesis was that physical activity would increase academic engagement, motivation, and social skills and decrease problem behaviors, thereby increasing academic achievement. Six first-grade classrooms and three second-grade classrooms participated involving 127 students. Teachers received a monetary incentive for participating in the study and implementing the Energizers program twice daily for 10 minutes each for 5, 7, or 9 weeks during the 11-week project.

Results of the study indicated a significant increase in the number of the students’ school-based steps as measured by high quality accelerometers. Classroom observations taken during baseline and intervention phases of the study showed an increase in student engagement, attention, and on-task behaviors when students were participating in Energizers. Teachers also reported improvement in motivation, engagement, and social skills in their students. However, increases in reading and math were not seen for the majority of students when their oral reading fluency and math computational fluency slopes were examined. Some first graders did show improvement on their level and slope for math fluency.

Gabriel Gutierrez

Gabe is in his second year as a bilingual school psychologist with the San Diego Unified School District in San Diego, California. He provides comprehensive services and works within an RTI model in his assigned schools. Since 2007, Gabe has been an adjunct professor at Palomar College teaching Introduction to Psychology and Psychology of Adjustment. His research interests are in literacy skills and literacy growth rates of Latino English language learners, phonological awareness interventions with English language learners, and therapeutic schoolbased techniques for traumatized children. He has been publishing articles and presenting on these topics since 1999. Gabe attained his PhD in school psychology/education from the University of California, Riverside in 2010.

Gabe presented a paper at the San Francisco convention entitled "Multilevel Analysis of Literacy Growth Among Second Grade EL Students." He examined the quality of literacy assessment tools (DIBELS—Phoneme Segmentation Fluency, Nonsense Word Fluency, and Oral Reading Fluency) for 260 second-grade English language learners who demonstrated varying levels of English language proficiency (beginning to advanced). The students were assessed during the fall, winter, and spring of second grade on both the English and Spanish version (IDEL) of the DIBELS. Spring reading comprehension scores from the California Standards Tests–English Language Arts) were provided by the school district. Gabe used growth curve modeling to determine the effect that English proficiency has on initial reading status (fall baseline) and reading growth rate over the year. He also looked at the predictors of reading growth.

The results indicated that the students with more advanced English language proficiency showed more skills on Phoneme Segmentation Fluency (PSF) and Nonsense Word Fluency (NWF), and students with advanced or early-advanced levels of English proficiency had steeper oral reading fluency slopes over the year than students with lower levels of English proficiency. Phonological awareness (PSF) accounted for 2.1% and letter-sound correspondence (NWF) accounted for 33% of the variance in spring reading fluency scores. When controlling for phonological awareness and phonics skills, English language proficiency accounted for an additional 12% of the variance in spring reading fluency. However, the fall reading fluency score accounted for 82% of the variance for the spring reading fluency and 51% of the variance for the spring reading comprehension score.

For more information, you can review Catherine’s presentation (PA 149) and Gabe’s presentation (PA 609) posted on the NASP website under "Convention Handouts."

The Awards Committee wishes to thank all the applicants for their interest in the Paul Henkin Memorial Scholarship and welcomes them to the field of school psychology. The application process for this scholarship is defined in the Call for Papers for each NASP convention.

Karen O’Brien, NCSP, is the chair of the Awards Committee.