School Psychology Review

Special Topic: Promoting Academic Competence for Underserved Students
Volume 37, Issue 1 (2008 )

Editor: Thomas J. Power

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  • Editorial Note: Emerging Trends for Expanding the Science Base

    Thomas J. Power

    pp. 3-4

    One of the unique privileges of being Editor of School Psychology Review is that I have the opportunity to observe developments in the field when they are in their early stages of taking shape. Every article published in school Psychology Review passes through astringent peer review process and presents research that is judged to expand the science base in psychology and education. As such, Iam excited to present this issue and each issue of School Psychology Review, because each of the articles makes a substantive and unique contribution to the science base. In reflecting on the articles included in this issue, two thoughts came to mind: (a) our research community is starting to address the critical need for a science base to promote the academic competence of students at substantial risk of failure—that is, those who are minorities by virtue of cultural and linguistic background and socioeconomic circumstance; and (b) our research community is beginning to move beyond the period of speculation about how to integrate a positive psychology approach into research and practice.

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  • Predictive Accuracy of Nonsense Word Fluency for English Language Learners

    Mike L. Vanderwood, Danielle Linklater, Krista Healy

    pp. 5-17

    Abstract. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between English phonics (nonsense word fluency) and reading performance for 134English language learners. First-grade nonsense word fluency scores had significant moderate to large correlations to three third-grade outcome measures:curriculum-based measurement in reading (.65), Maze (.54), and the California Achievement Test, Sixth Edition (.39). In addition, when the variance associate with English language learner level was removed through hierarchical linear regression, nonsense word fluency accounted for a significant amount of the variance for all three outcomes. The predictive accuracy of nonsense word fluency was determined by examining the sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive values for each outcome measure. Implications, limitations, and future directions are also addressed.

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  • Reading Fluency as a Predictor of Reading Proficiency in Low-Performing, High-Poverty Schools

    Scott K. Baker, Keith Smolkowski, Rachell Katz, Hank Fien, John R. Seeley, Edward J. Kame'enui, Carrie Thomas Beck

    pp. 18-37

    Abstract. The purpose of this study was to examine oral reading fluency (ORF) in the context of a large-scale federal reading initiative conducted in low performing,high poverty schools. The objectives were to (a) investigate the relation between ORF and comprehensive reading tests, (b) examine whether slope of performance over time on ORF predicted performance on comprehensive reading tests over and above initial level of performance, and (c) test how well various models of ORF and performance on high stakes reading tests in Year 1 predicted performance on high-stakes reading tests in Year 2. Subjects were four cohorts of students in Grades 1–3, with each cohort representing approximately 2,400students. Results support the use of ORF in the early grades to screen students for reading problems and monitor reading growth over time. The use of ORF in reading reform and implications for school psychologists are discussed.

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  • Ethnicity and English Proficiency: Teacher Perceptions of Academic and Interpersonal Competence in European American and Latino Students

    Heather M. Edl, Martin H. Jones, David B. Estell

    pp. 38-45

    Abstract. Little research investigates the academic and interpersonal competence of Latino students in classroom settings. As such, the current study seeks to better understand how language proficiency and ethnicity relate to teacher ratings of children’s academic and social capabilities. The present study compared European American students with Latino students in regular and bilingual classrooms from the fall of fourth grade to the spring of fifth grade. Using discriminant function analyses at four times, results suggest that in the fall of fourth grade several distinctions existed between students in regular and bilingual classrooms.By the spring of fifth grade, the number of differences diminished to just two variables among the groups. For each factor separating the students, teachers consistently rated Latinos in bilingual classrooms as less competent, whereas Latinos in regular classrooms were often, though not always, similar to European American students. Implications for practice are discussed.

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  • From Research to Practice: Promoting Academic Competence for Underserved Students

    Edward S. Shapiro

    pp. 46-51

    Over many decades, the efforts of researchers to understand key issues in the reading performance of those children most at risk for developing later reading problems has been relentless (e.g., Gersten & Dimino, 2006;Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). During the past several years, since the National Reading Panel released its findings and recommendations(National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [NICHD], 2000) and the NO Child Left Behind legislation established lofty goals for student achievement, federally funded programs to improve reading performance through Reading First and Early Reading First have been initiated. As a result, many efforts in the research literature have focused on understanding assessment processes that can identify at the earliest ages those children whose paths to academic success in reading and language development must be altered to avoid long-term failure in learning to read.The three studies related to the special topic of this issue are consistent with these themes and move the literature significantly forward toward a fuller understanding of how we can best identify children at young ages whose difficulties in reading and language development may be leading to problematic outcomes.Consistent with my own views, these studies attack the “big problems” in education and school psychology (Shapiro, 2000).

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  • Looking Beyond Psychopathology: The Dual-Factor Model of Mental Health in Youth

    Shannon M. Suldo, Emily J. Shaffer

    pp. 52-68

    Abstract. In a dual-factor model of mental health (cf. Greenspoon & Saklofske,2001), assessments of positive indicators of wellness (i.e., subjective well-being—SWB) are coupled with traditional negative indicators of illness (i.e., psychopathology)to comprehensively measure mental health. The current study examined the existence and utility of a dual-factor model in early adolescence.The SWB, psychopathology, academic functioning, social adjustment, and physical health of a general sample of 349 middle school students was assessed via self-report scales, school records, and teacher reports regarding students’ externalizing psychopathology. The existence of a dual-factor model was supported through the identification of four mental health groups: 57% of the sample had complete mental health, 13% was vulnerable, 13% was symptomatic but content,and 17% was troubled. The means of the four groups differed significantly in terms of academic outcomes, physical health, and social functioning. Results support the importance of high SWB to optimal functioning during adolescence,as students with complete mental health (i.e., high SWB, low psychopathology)had better reading skills, school attendance, academic self-perceptions, academic-related goals, social support from classmates and parents, self-perceived physical health, and fewer social problems than their vulnerable peers also without clinical levels of mental illness but with low SWB. Among students with clinical levels of psychopathology, students with high SWB (symptomatic but content youth)perceived better social functioning and physical health.

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  • The Dual-Factor Model of Mental Health in Youth

    Beth Doll

    pp. 69-73

    Suldo and Shaffer (2008) should be roundly applauded for pursuing an empirical examination of relations between the presence of wellness and the absence of psychopathology in adolescents. The possibility that psychopathology and wellness make related but distinct contributions to mental health has been widely recognized in the American Psychological Association’s agenda on positive psychology (Keyes & Haidt, 2003), in Rutter and Sroufe’s (2000) descriptions of the challenges facing the science of developmental psychopathology, and in Greenspoon and Saklofske’s (2001) empirical description of a two factor model of mental health with a Canadian sample of elementary students. Despite its importance,psychological wellness has not been incorporated into the day-to-day practice of psychology in any notable ways. Outside of public agencies like schools and juvenile justice,access to mental health services is linked to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental Disorders (4th ed., text revision; DSMIV-TR; American Psychiatric Association,2000) diagnoses, which are based predominantly on negative symptoms and dysfunction. Mostitems on prominent measures of psychosocial adjustment (Reynolds & Kamphaus, 2004;Achenbach & Rescorla, 2001) describe maladaptive behaviors, and even when subscales assess positive behaviors, the subscales’s cores are more sensitive measures of the degree of maladjustment (the presence of pathology and the absence of well-being) than adjustment(the absence of pathology and the presence of well-being).

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  • Parent Involvement in Preschool: Predictors and the Relation of Involvement to Preliteracy Development

    David H. Arnold, Alexandra Zeljo, Greta L. Doctoroff, Camilo Ortiz

    pp. 74-90

    Abstract. The present study examined the relation between parent involvement in preschool and children’s preliteracy skills. It also examined socioeconomic status(SES), parent depression, and single-parent status as predictors of parent involvement.Participants were 163 preschool-aged children from mostly low-income families, their parents, and their teachers. Teachers rated parent involvement, and preliteracy skills were assessed with standardized tests. Greater parent involvement was associated with stronger preliteracy skills. SES was positively associate with involvement, although involvement still predicted preliteracy development controlling for SES. No significant relation was found between depression and parent involvement. Single-parent status was associated with less involvement,and data were consistent with single-parent status partially mediating the relation between SES and involvement. These findings extend work with older children, and provide a step toward understanding possible mechanisms in the relation between SES and parent involvement.

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  • The Generalizability of Externalizing Behavior Composites and Subscale Scores Across Time, Rater, and Instrument

    Renee Bergeron, Randy G. Floyd, Allison C. McCormack, William L. Farmer

    pp. 91-108

    Abstract. The dependability of externalizing behavior composites and subscale scores from the Behavior Assessment System for Children, Second Edition,Teacher Rating Scale—Child (Reynolds & Kamphaus, 2004) and the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment, Teacher’s Report Form for Ages 6–18(Achenbach & Rescorla, 2001) was investigated. Teacher pairs from six classrooms each completed items contributing to the externalizing composites and subscales for 10 of their students on two occasions approximately 1–3 weeks apart. Pearson correlation coefficients examining consistency between raters,between instruments, and between measurement occasions were generally strong,but dependability coefficients were moderate when rater, instrument, and occasion were considered concurrently. Variance component estimates indicated that individual differences among students accounted for the largest proportion of total variance across all score comparisons, but differences between teacher ratings for particular students and between instruments accounted for relatively large proportions of error variance among subscale scores. The implications of simultaneously considering multiple error sources for test users are discussed.

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  • Evaluating Curriculum-Based Measurement Slope Estimates Using Data From Triannual Universal Screenings

    Scott P. Ardoin, Theodore J. Christ

    pp. 109-125

    Abstract. Schools are increasingly using curriculum-based measurement reading procedures to conduct universal screenings as a means of identifying students whose level and rate of growth are discrepant from peers. Despite abundant evidence supporting the reliability and validity of curriculum-based measurement-reading procedures, researchers have not fully evaluated the adequacy of universal screening procedures for curriculum-based measurement of reading.The current study begins to address unanswered questions regarding how best to conduct and use universal screening data. Screenings were conducted with 86second-grade students in the fall, winter, and spring of an academic year, using passages from the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills. Estimates of students’ level and rate of growth were calculated using (a) a single probe across universal screenings, (b) students’ median scores across universal screenings using the same passage set, and (c) students’ median scores across universal screenings using a different passage set for each screening. Significant differences in estimates of student growth were found both as a function of the probe set(s)used and the semester for which estimates were calculated (fall to winter vs.winter to spring). Based upon differences in estimates of students’ growth, as well as greater agreement in dual-discrepancy analyses, it is recommended that the same probe set be administered across universal screenings and that semester as opposed to annual rates of growth be used for evaluation purposes.

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  • Determining an Effective Intervention Within a Brief Experimental Analysis for Reading: A Meta-Analytic Review

    Matthew K. Burns, Dana Wagner

    pp. 126-136

    Abstract. The current study applied meta-analytic procedures to brief experimental analysis research of reading fluency interventions to better inform practice and suggest areas for future research. Thirteen studies were examined to determine what magnitude of effect was needed to identify an intervention as the most effective within a brief experimental analysis; what interventions led to the largest mean effect within brief experimental analysis; and whether effects were moderated by reading passage type. The mean no-assumptions effect size for the intervention identified as the most effective by a brief experimental analysis was 2.87 (SD = 2.68) with 81.83% (SD = 31.27%) mean percentage of nonoverlapping data. Moreover, the average increase in words read correctly per minute was 30.19 (SD =18.00). Mean percentage of nonoverlapping data was computed for 18 interventions and ranged from 24.75% to 100%. Finally, instructional-level passages led to larger average effects, but high-content overlap passages resulted in less variability in the data.

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