Part 1: Individual Level: Embedding the NASP Practice Model in Personnel Evaluation

Schools are regularly required to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of the individual services delivered (personnel appraisal) and the quality and effectiveness of the collective services of school psychologists (program evaluation). Many schools are overly focused on the former and almost completely negligent of the latter. Additionally, many states, through statutory policy, are mandating personnel evaluation practices and requiring student outcome data to be linked to the evaluation and personnel decisions. The NASP Practice Model provides you with an excellent foundation to work with your supervisor and administrators to shape a system for evaluating individual and district-wide school psychological services. Having school psychologists like you involved in developing these systems is critical to ensuring that evaluations reflect your skills, training, and role, not that of other educators.

NASP Framework for the Personnel Evaluation of School Psychologists.

NASP developed the Framework for the Personnel Evaluation of School Psychologists Utilizing the NASP Practice Model (NASP, 2012). This framework provides a set of four guiding principles to respond to the current trends in personnel evaluation. The four overriding principles are:

Principle 1: Use the NASP Model for Comprehensive and Integrated School Psychological Services (NASP Practice Model) as the overarching framework for personnel evaluations.

Personnel and program evaluations affecting school psychologists should be based upon the standards for practice articulated in the NASP Practice Model. Some of the benefits of using the NASP Practice Model as the framework for personnel evaluation include:

  • It establishes the full range of services that can be reasonably expected of school psychologists.
  • It recommends organizational guidelines for districts to ensure high quality implementation of service delivery programs.
  • It promotes consistency of practice and clarity of expectations.
  • It allows for the practical role of the school psychologist to be gradually aligned with the NASP Practice Model.

Individual school psychologists should consider the breadth of needs of the students they serve in relation to the services that they have been trained to deliver in response to these needs. Critical to this is the workload and capacity (e.g., time, resources, and ratios) for an individual to provide those services. On the program level, districts should commit to making available a range of services that can meet student needs. Districts need to consider how these standards are reflected in the professional expectations of school psychologists, including how job descriptions and personnel evaluation articulate these standards. The breadth of services is articulated in the 10 domains of the NASP Practice Model.

Common Barriers to Using the Model as a Framework for Personnel Evaluation
  • Job descriptions narrowly address the full range of services that could be provided by school psychologists and instead focus on a narrow set of services such as assessment and special education administrative duties.
  • School leaders often desire to have a single evaluation tool for all school professionals.
  • Evaluators are not familiar with the NASP Practice Model standards or the general guidance about evaluations that has been provided by NASP.
  • Although districts are familiar with NASP, the national standards for school psychological practice are not always considered in the development of tools or evaluation processes.
  • Evaluation tools do not allow flexibility to weigh services of high priority and need.
  • Evaluation tools are often designed around a narrowly defined role, thereby discouraging school psychologists from providing more comprehensive services to positively help students and families.

Table IV.1 summarizes ineffective practices that often result from these barriers and what corresponding effective practices might look like.

Advocacy Tips for Using the Model as a Framework for Personnel Evaluation
  • Present an overview of the NASP Practice Model to school leadership and request that school psychologists be utilized in linking the national standards to the district evaluation tool and processes.
  • Develop a job description for school psychologists that aligns with the NASP Practice Model.
  • Provide the school administrators who are responsible for evaluation tool design with examples of tools from other school districts that have incorporated the NASP Practice Model.
  • Volunteer to help with the development of evaluation tools.
  • Review the competencies under each domain of the NASP Practice Model and consider how you are already demonstrating each competency with your existing prevention, assessment, intervention, and consultation services.
  • Talk with parents and teachers about the services provided in a broad-based role and how these services can strengthen student learning and engagement.
  • Share your evaluation tools with colleagues in other school districts or at the state level.

Table IV.1. Principle 1: Practices in Using the Model as a Framework for Personnel Evaluation

Ineffective Practices Effective Practices
Job descriptions narrowly define the role of the school psychologist by articulating only services mandated by law (e.g., special education evaluation) versus a full range of student- and systems-level prevention, intervention, and evaluation services. These stated job description services are the only services that a school psychologist is evaluated on, and any other services that are provided are considered ancillary. Job descriptions align with the NASP Practice Model and are further reinforced as they align with personnel evaluation tools and performance expectations.
One personnel evaluation rating scale is used for all professionals (teachers, school psychologists, speech therapists, nurses, librarians) and generally does not reflect the unique skills or services demonstrated by school psychologists. The district utilizes a personnel evaluation rubric that reflects the district's personnel evaluation model (e.g., Danielson Model [2013], Marzano [2011]) and specifically includes and/or clearly cross references these components with professional practice standards for school psychologists found in the NASP Practice Model.
The district evaluates the school psychologists on all competencies outlined across all 10 domains even though the school psychologist works in a setting where the school psychologist to student ratio is significantly higher than the recommended ratios articulated in the NASP Practice Model. A school psychologist's workload and the intensity of student needs in the school(s) that the school psychologist serves is considered in the evaluation metrics applied to any individual personnel appraisal.

Principle 2: Recognize the critical importance of involving affected professionals in creating a relevant, supportive, and instructive evaluation system.

Personnel evaluations need to be meaningful, informative, and instructive. To accomplish this, evaluation systems need to provide opportunities for reflection, feedback, instruction, and supportive practice. Ideally you are involved in the development of the personnel appraisal system and are providing evidence to support your competencies and effectiveness. Being involved in your personnel appraisal process:

  • Increases your investment and trust in the process.
  • Promotes a continuous quality improvement cycle.
  • Allows you to apply your data-based decision making skills to the natural employment setting.
  • Creates a sense of ownership and involvement that can lead to improved job satisfaction, skills, and student outcomes.
Common Barriers to Involving School Psychologists in the Evaluation Process in a Meaningful Way
  • School psychologists are isolated from the decision makers involved in the development and the implementation of the personnel appraisal process.
  • School psychologists ignore opportunities to contribute to the evaluation process because of lack of interest in evaluating personal growth as a professional or by prioritizing other activities.
  • The school district prioritizes completion of paperwork over the learning and professional growth of employees. Compliance around personnel evaluations is high even though the effectiveness of this process in improving employee performance is poor.
  • Administrators have an unrealistic number of evaluations to complete and aren't able to personalize the process to be meaningful for individual professionals.

Table IV.2 summarizes ineffective practices that often result from these barriers and what corresponding effective practices might look like.

Advocacy Tips for Involving School Psychologists in the Evaluation Process in a Meaningful Way
  • Work with school leaders so that the official policy and practice of the district reflects that the purpose of personnel evaluations is to improve the specific performance of all school professionals and that, for this to be meaningfully accomplished, the evaluation tools must provide feedback linked to their specific roles.
  • If possible, volunteer to serve on the district's personnel evaluation or accountability committees and offer expert advice about evaluation methods, tool design, data collection, and analysis.
  • Request opportunities to personally contribute to the evaluation process by drafting professional goals and professional development plans and submitting them to supervisors for review and potential inclusion in the evaluation.
  • Offer concrete examples with relevant supporting evidence of progress in meeting student needs, consulting with teachers and school administrators, and assisting parents in implementing home or community based interventions and supports.
  • Help to develop group supervision activities like weekly discussion groups or professional learning communities so that staff can continue to expose themselves to opportunities to review and receive feedback about their work.
  • Offer to develop a crosswalk between NASP standards and your district's evaluation tool.

Table IV.2. Principle 2: Practices in Involving School Psychologists in the Evaluation Process

Ineffective Practices Effective Practices
School psychologists are asked to sign off on their own personnel evaluation without first conducting observations or requesting feedback from consumers of school psychological services, or the school psychologist being evaluated. An evaluator requests input from the school psychologist being evaluated and the teachers, parents, and students with whom the school psychologist works. The evaluator observes the school psychologist in multiple professional settings (team meetings, social skills group instruction, IEP staffings) prior to completing the personnel evaluation and also consults with a credentialed school psychologist mentor or peer to assess the quality of technical products (e.g., assessment reports, protocols, behavior plans, consultation plans) produced by the school psychologist.
The only tangible outcome of the personnel appraisal process is a completed set of required paperwork. The evaluation process leads to the development of meaningful personnel improvement goals and a related professional development plan.
The school psychologist is providing only a narrow menu of services and is not responding effectively to the needs of students, families, and/or colleagues. Rather than being put on a remediation plan, the practitioner is transferred to a different school. Rarely is constructive critical feedback provided to the practitioner so that he/she is aware of how his/her services are being viewed by others and how they need to be improved. A struggling school psychologist is provided critical feedback about the quality of his/her services and how they can be improved. This feedback is based on sound data. A plan for remediating inadequate professional skills is implemented with realistic expectations of improvement. A school psychologist supervisor regularly monitors the progress and coaches the school psychologist during the remediation period.

Principle 3: Use measurements that are valid, reliable, and meaningful.

You can apply your data-based decision making skills to help ensure that evaluation measures are useful. Evaluation measures must validly discriminate between levels of competency and proficiency, areas for improvement, and the need to structure performance plans targeting improvement. Effective evaluation tools should also demonstrate interrater reliability over time when used by multiple evaluators and eliminate opportunities for bias to the greatest extent possible. Evaluation systems need to rely on multiple sources of information to determine evaluation outcomes. Single sources of data (such as student test scores) should only be considered within the larger body of evidence of student performance.

Common Barriers to Using Valid, Reliable, and Meaningful Measures
  • Policy makers pass legislation or official policy requiring schools to conduct the personnel appraisal process using an invalid or unreliable source of data to measure quality of services (e.g., mandating that student standardized test scores be used as evidence for the effectiveness of all school employees).
  • A school board adopts a singular evaluation process with generic evaluation content to be applied to all educators, and the evaluation process doesn't allow for adaptations to be made for different professionals.
  • Professionals with data expertise, like school psychologists, are not asked to be a part of accountability or evaluation teams because people are not familiar with their expertise or they are thought to be too busy doing their other duties.

Table IV.3 summarizes ineffective practices that often result from these barriers and what corresponding effective practices might look like.

Advocacy Tips for Using Valid, Reliable, and Meaningful Measures
  • Present the NASP Practice Model to your school administration and show how the competencies expected of a school psychologist are unique and connect directly to student outcomes beyond standardized test scores.
  • Volunteer to serve on district or building-level accountability and evaluation teams.
  • Demonstrate the relevance of student outcome data by collecting pertinent data in response to school psychological services offered and sharing it with district administrators.
  • Share and disseminate research on effective evaluation processes, including the impact on validity, when utilizing multiple sources and methods.

Table IV.3. Principle 3: Practices in Using Valid, Reliable, and Meaningful Measures

Ineffective Practices Effective Practices
The district uses one personnel evaluation tool for all educators and requires the same sources of data (e.g., student standardized test scores, student attendance records) be collected and reported regardless of whether those data provide valid and reliable evidence of competencies being evaluated. The district uses multiple measures of professional performance for personnel evaluations and the measures closely correspond to specific job responsibilities and services provided by the professional and the competencies being evaluated.
The performance appraisal tool used provides an overall rating of "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory" for school psychologists with no additional ratings made that quantify or qualify the competency levels of the practitioner. The performance appraisal tool is a rubric which provides concrete examples of specific services and competencies demonstrated by the school psychologist as articulated in the NASP Practice Model. The rubric contains a performance evaluation rating scale that objectively classifies performance at multiple competency levels.
School psychologists are evaluated purely based on frequency data like the number of students that qualify for special education services, students tested annually by the school psychologist, the number of students on the school psychologist's caseload, the number of students who are proficient on state level tests, or the number of behavior intervention plans created by the school psychologist. The district utilizes multiple outcome measures to evaluate school psychologists, including student progress in response to school psychological interventions, consumer perception surveys, observations of professional conduct during service delivery, and peer reviews of technical applications.
The school psychological service program evaluates the effectiveness of counseling services by tallying the numbers of students that received counseling by a school psychologist. The school psychological service program evaluates the overall effectiveness of counseling services delivered by school psychologists by examining the percentage of individual counseling goals achieved for students receiving these services during a designated period of time.
A goal of the school psychological service program is to improve student engagement, and so the district collects and reports student attendance data as evidence of this goal. A goal of the school psychological service program is to utilize school psychological services to improve student engagement. As a result, district school psychologists implement a specific intervention designed to reduce the absenteeism of a defined group of habitually truant students. Evidence that the intervention was implemented with fidelity and that the targeted students improved their attendance is collected and reported.

Principle 4: Administrative structures must ensure meaningful feedback and offer resources in support of continuous improvement.

Personnel evaluation systems should support and measure your professional growth and development over time. This requires effective supervision and mentoring by qualified school psychologists who can observe and review your work, and provide ongoing feedback and specific expectations designed to improve performance. Some of the benefits of evaluation systems that provide ongoing meaningful feedback include:

  • Minor performance problems or misunderstandings can be addressed before problems escalate into more serious concerns.
  • Growth can be easily evaluated over time through regular documentation and progress monitoring.
  • Engagement with and personal awareness about your individual competencies is increased.
  • Supervisors can respond in a timely fashion with increased support or remediation plans.
Common Barriers to Ensuring Meaningful Feedback and Resources That Support Continuous Improvement
  • School psychologists do not have a credentialed school psychologist as their supervisor, which leads to feedback unrelated to the practice of school psychology.
  • The limited resources of the school district result in supervisors having an unwieldy number of supervisees, which limits opportunity for critical constructive feedback.
  • The school district has limited mentoring and coaching opportunities for new employees.

Table IV.4 summarizes ineffective practices that often result from these barriers and what corresponding effective practices might look like.

Advocacy Tips for Ensuring Meaningful Feedback and Resources That Support Continuous Improvement
  • Seek critical constructive feedback and support from a credentialed school psychologist by advocating for professional development opportunities, proposing peer supervision programs, participating in mentoring sponsored by professional organizations, and/or seeking out a personal mentor.
  • Talk with your supervisor about strategies for receiving constructive feedback. Additionally, the school psychologist should ask that informal peer coaches or mentors have an opportunity to contribute feedback to the personnel evaluations.

Table IV.4. Principle 4: Practices to Ensure Meaningful Feedback and Support for Continuous Improvement

Ineffective Practices Effective Practices
School psychologists meet with their supervisor twice a year as part of the required personnel evaluation system. This system typically includes two mandatory meetings: one at the beginning of the year where the school psychologist identifies annual goals and the final evaluation at the end of the year where the practitioner's competence and overall achievement of professional goals is assessed. No other meetings, observations, or substantive discussions take place. School psychologists participate in mandatory personnel evaluation meetings with their supervisor as well as ongoing meetings throughout the year. At these ongoing meetings, school psychologists review their work and receive feedback about the quality of services. Remediation plans are developed and implemented as needed. Opportunities for recognition and advancement are considered. Progress toward annual professional goals is discussed.
The ongoing supervision feedback provided by the school psychologist mentor is provided to the practitioner but is not considered as part of the annual performance evaluation. The school psychologist's mentor is consulted by the official supervisor as part of the annual performance evaluation process, and the constructive feedback provided is incorporated into the supervisor's assessment and evaluation.
The district uses a classroom observation rubric designed for teachers to evaluate all school employees, including school psychologists. The district utilizes an observational rubric designed specifically to look at the skills of school psychologists that is based on the 10 domains of the NASP Practice Model.

Examples of Personnel Evaluations That Incorporate the NASP Practice Model

At the time of the writing of this guide, NASP does not have a recommended template for personnel evaluation tools that incorporate the NASP Practice Model. However, across the country, school districts, states, and state professional organizations are developing tools that reflect these principles. Three examples are offered below to illustrate how the NASP Practice Model can be incorporated into whatever system is being developed. By linking personnel evaluation efforts to the NASP Practice Model standards, school psychologists have the best opportunity to grow from their evaluation experiences.

Johnson County School District, Buffalo, WY
The School Psychologist Evaluation System in Johnson County School District in Buffalo, Wyoming is an example of one personnel appraisal process that was designed for use with school psychologists only and was developed by school psychologists in collaboration with district administrators. The system is constructed around the three broad areas of the NASP Practice Model and then the supporting 10 domains.

The system incorporates many of the principles within the Framework for the Personnel Evaluation of School Psychologists Utilizing the NASP Practice Model previously articulated in this guide. It allows for practitioner input, includes an emphasis on professional development, details multiple sources of information that may be included in the evaluation, and addresses the breadth of the domains identified in the NASP Practice Model. Additionally, the evaluation tool includes a scoring rubric that differentiates four levels of proficiency for the school psychologist.

Florida Student Services Personnel Evaluation and Model Guide
The Student Support Services Project of the University of South Florida developed a student services personnel evaluation process on behalf of the Florida Department of Education.

In some states, public policy makers are mandating certain requirements be met in the development of educator evaluation systems or that multiple professionals be evaluated using common tools. The Florida Student Services project is an example of a state-led evaluation system that worked to respond to these mandates while also incorporating professional standards and theoretical teacher evaluation frameworks, such as the work of Charlotte Danielson and Robert Marzano. This project shows how an evaluation tool can be developed and used with multiple professions while also linking that tool directly to the standards articulated in the NASP Practice Model.

Massachusetts Association of School Psychologists (MSPA) School Psychologist Evaluation Rubric
In states where educator evaluation systems have been developed without consideration for the unique skills of the school psychologist, advocacy by the state professional organization could help remedy this disconnect. The MSPA School Psychologist Evaluation Rubric is patterned from an evaluation tool that had been designed by the state department of education for use with specialized instructional support personnel. MASP incorporated the NASP Practice Model framework into the state's tool and then worked with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education at the state department to ensure that the tool was compliant. They have also worked to see that the specific tool was adopted by local school districts so that school psychologists can be evaluated by tools that are realistic, practical, and informative.