NASP Communiqué, Vol. 34, #4
NASP 2006 Annual Convention, March 28–April 1
A Pound of Prevention Is Worth a Ton of Cure
By John Desrochers, Jeff Charvat, Jack Cummings, Beth Doll, NCSP, Clarissa
Garcia, & Paula Laidig, NCSP, Prevention Task Force
Ed. Note. The theme of the 2006 Anaheim Convention is "Prevention
IS an Intervention." This article highlights the activities of the Presidential
Task Force on Prevention and previews some of the Anaheim Convention
What do these activities have in common: screening, early intervention teams,
bully-proofing, parent and teacher training, counseling, and consultation?
They are all preventive activities already conducted by school psychologists
every day. Prevention is a traditional part of school psychology that in the
last several years has begun to get the recognition it deserves. This year,
NASP is highlighting prevention as a priority role for school psychologists
through its “Prevention Is an Intervention” theme.
An Ounce of Prevention
An extensive empirical base exists showing that “well-designed, well-implemented
school-based prevention and youth development programming can positively influence
a diverse array of social, health, and academic outcomes” (Greenberg,
et al., 2003) and school psychologists have access to that knowledge base to
varying degrees. In many cases, however, children, families, and schools do
not have access to these well-established programs because of the difficulties
inherent in disseminating program information from researchers to practitioners,
the time and effort required for practitioners to learn these new approaches,
and limited support for prevention programming in individual school districts
(Weisz, Sandler, Durlak, & Anton, 2005). School districts often marginalize
prevention activities and focus their reform efforts exclusively on improving
school organization and resource management or on direct facilitation of learning,
not understanding that addressing barriers to teaching and learning through
prevention programming improves outcomes in both of these areas (Adelman &
Taylor, 2005). The most effective schools will be those that completely integrate
management, instruction, and prevention in all of their programs.
A Pound of Cure
When NASP President Bill Pfohl declared the “Prevention Is an
Intervention” theme for his presidential year, he also commissioned a
Presidential Task Force to develop and coordinate efforts to promote prevention
as a priority function of school psychologists by providing them with up-to-date
resources, information, and training opportunities. Task Force members include
Beth Doll (chair), Jeff Charvat, Jack Cummings, John Desrochers, Clarissa Garcia,
and Paula Laidig. Ann Crawford, a graduate assistant at the University of Nebraska,
is providing research and administrative support.
During the course of this year the Task Force will complete eight assignments:
(1) prepare a prevention position paper for NASP, (2) submit articles and inserts
on the topic of prevention to the Communiqué, (3) create a
“clearinghouse” website on prevention that easily links the existing
NASP web-resources on prevention and integrates these into a conceptually-based
easy-to-navigate schema, (4) construct a page on the NASP website containing
an annotated bibliography of references related to prevention, (5) integrate
web-based and other resources into a Continuing Professional Development program,
(6) identify key speakers to participate in a prevention strand at the 2006
NASP Convention, (7) design and disseminate one or two prevention brochures,
and (8) help develop a presentation on issues in prevention for use at NASP
Much has already been accomplished. Planning is underway for presentations
at the 2006 Convention in Anaheim (see below) and state association leaders
participated in presentations and discussions regarding prevention at the NASP
Regional Meetings in October and November. Collecting, analyzing, and annotating
references is an ongoing task, but much has been done in this area as well.
The position paper, Communiqué insert, and CPD unit depend on
completing this research, but the Task Force is on schedule to complete all
its work by the end of the school year. School psychologists should monitor
the Communiqué and the NASP website for resources as they become
available in the upcoming months.
Prevention in the Spotlight
A highlight of the Task Force’s work will be the President’s Special
Strand at the NASP Convention in Anaheim. The “Prevention Is an Intervention” strand
will feature three sessions by well-known experts in prevention: Howard
Adelman and Linda Taylor, Co-directors of the
National Center for Mental Health in Schools at UCLA, will address the issue
of moving prevention from the fringes of school planning into full integration
with all aspects of schooling; Roger
Weissberg, President of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and
Emotional Learning (CASEL) and recipient of the 2005 American Psychological
Association award for Distinguished Contributions to Theory and Research in
Community Psychology, will discuss the promotion of social and emotional learning
in schools; and Thomas Power, Program Director of the Community
Schools Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Associate
Professor of School Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania School of
Medicine, and Editor-Elect of School Psychology Review, will talk about
community partnerships in prevention. At least another half-dozen workshops
on various aspects of prevention are also planned for the Convention. Finally, Beth
Doll will host a panel discussion with these and other speakers, making
this a very exciting and informative convention for all practitioners.
Weighing In on Prevention
The profession of School Psychology is committed to prevention as a core activity
of school psychologists. The 2002 Conference on the Future of School Psychology,
in its “Overriding Principles,”
concluded not only that prevention was a core activity of school psychologists,
but also that:
Currently, and for the foreseeable future, we are faced with a shortage
of school psychologists that threatens our capacity to meet the needs of
children in schools… Recruitment/retention strategies alone will be
insufficient and inadequate to increase our capacity to meet the imminent
needs of children, families, and schools. As a result, changes in school
psychology practices and service delivery will be required to use the resources
we have to maximize the benefits to the children and schools that we serve….
Prevention and early intervention will be necessary to achieve positive outcomes
for children, families, and schools. (http://www.indiana.edu/%7Efutures/masterlist54.doc)
Every outcome area from the conference stressed the centrality of prevention
in the practice of school psychologists –
twelve out of the fifteen priority goals resulting from the conference involved
prevention in some way. Since the conference, many state school psychology
associations have offered professional development in topics related to prevention
issues. Driving all these efforts is the inexorable truth that school psychologists
cannot address the increasing social, emotional, and academic needs of the
children and families they serve by waiting for something or someone to break
and then trying to fix things one student at a time.
If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, NASP’s “Prevention Is an
Intervention” initiative is just what the doctor ordered for school psychologists
looking for ways to increase their impact on the social, emotional, and academic
learning of students in their schools.
The following three outstanding web-based resources are available to provide
information and resources in prevention activities for school psychologists:
Adelman, H. &
Taylor, L. (2005). New directions for addressing barriers to learning.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Greenberg, M.T., Weissberg, R. P., Utne O’Brien, M., Zins, J. E., Fredericks,
L., Resnik, H.,
& Elias, M. J. (2003). Enhancing school-based prevention and youth development
through coordinated social, emotional, and academic learning. American
Psychologist, 58, 466-474.
Weisz, J. R., Sandler, I. N., Durlak, J. A. & Anton, B. S. (2005). Promoting
and protecting youth mental health through evidence-based prevention and treatment. American
Psychologist, 60, 628-648.
© 2005, National Association of School Psychologists. John Desrochers,
PhD, is the NASP Delegate from Connecticut and a Contributing
Editor for the Communiqué. Jeff Charvat, PhD, is the Director of Research
and Information Services for the National Association of School Psychologists.
Jack Cummings, PhD, is a professor at Indiana University and
Co-Chair of the Future of School Psychology Conference. Beth Doll, PhD, is
a professor at the University of Nebraska. Clarissa
Garcia is a school psychology graduate student at Texas A & M University.
Paula Laidig, PhD, NCSP, is the Coordinator of Mental Health Services for
the Stillwater, Minnesota Public Schools.