Volume 17, Issue 3 (1988)
Special Education Reform: School Psychology Revolution
Daniel J. Reschly
ABSTRACT: Analysis and critique of current school psychological services were provided with emphasis on the unresolved dilemmas in the current system (prevalence of learning disabilities, confusion over the learning disability diagnostic construct, placement litigation, cost-benefits of services, and quality and usefulness of current assessment). These unresolved dilemmas were interpreted as establishing the basis for special education reform. The nature and direction of these reforms were analyzed through review of several recent, policy statements from governmental,scientific, advocacy, and professional agencies or groups. Implementation of these policies could drastically reduce the number and percentage of students classified as mildly handicapped, the group which currently receives about two-thirds of school psychological services. The necessary revolution in school psychology is seen as involving a dramatic shift from classification of students or eligibility determination to design, implementation, and evaluation of interventions.Competencies for the new roles, based in part on traditional school psychology strengths, need to be developed in the immediate future in order for school psychology to remain as the principal representative of the science and practice of psychology in school settings. School psychology in the 1990s is expected to change rapidly in the direction of prereferral interventions, behavioral consultation, curriculum based assessment and instructional design, and behavioral interventions for academic survival skills. Increasingly, assessment will be oriented toward interventions in natural settings and the outcomes criterion will be used to evaluate the usefulness and fairness of assessment procedures.Failure to make changes needed to provide useful services in the alternative delivery systems of the future was seen as leading to the decline of school psychology.
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