Next Steps: Linking Services With the Needs of the District

This section helps school psychologists link their skill set, as defined by the NASP Practice Model, with the needs of the school or district to promote a more comprehensive role. Table II.2 helps identify some of the common barriers, ineffective practices, advocacy tips, and resulting effective practices that can be experienced when using the NASP Practice Model to identify areas of need.

Some steps school psychologists should take in this process include:

  • Review the school's or district's previous efforts at identifying needs and priorities.
    • Does your school have a strategic plan or school improvement plan?
    • Has a needs assessment been completed in the past?
  • Begin a needs assessment by first identifying its scope.
    • Broad and exploratory, looking at numerous indicators
    • Targeted, looking only at specific indicators or variables (e.g., perceived student safety)
  • Consider and identify the stakeholders.
    • School administrators
    • School staff
    • Student council
    • PTA
    • Community partners
  • Identify sources of data.
    • Data already available that the school collects
    • Collecting data through surveys (samples provided above)
      • Identify who will complete surveys
  • Help organize, interpret, and analyze data.
    • Connect results with the existing school improvement plan (if the school has one). Has the school achieved goals set forth in the existing plan?
  • Complete resource mapping, which should include an assessment of the following.
    • Availability of school-based mental and behavioral health services and supports
    • Availability of academic interventions and supports
    • Availability of community-based services and supports
  • Connect the resource mapping exercise with needs and priorities identified in the needs assessment.
    • What is the school/district doing well?
    • What needs improvement?
    • What resources are available to meet those needs?
    • What additional resources are needed?
  • Assess professional knowledge, skills, and practice as an individual school psychologist or as a district staff.
    • Continue to connect these skills with the identified needs and priorities.
  • Advocate for a comprehensive role (and possibly improved school psychologist to student ratios) to help the school or district effectively meet its needs and priorities. (See Section V: Advocacy Steps for resources and tools.)

Worksheet II.1 can assist with implementing these steps.

Table II.2. Moving From Ineffective to Effective Practices Using the NASP Practice Model to Address Identified Areas of Need
Common Barriers Ineffective Practices Advocacy Tips Effective Practices
Direct services and program supports that are offered in schools have competing interests. Implementing a commercial program to address an identified need based on the recommendations of the salesman versus the evidence-based merits of the program. Offer to participate on a team to help interpret data, analyze commercial resources, and identify steps to address needs. Choose evidence-based practices and align services with the NASP Practice Model based on data-supported needs of the school or district.
Decision making teams are staffed based on available personnel instead of on skills and knowledge. A school improvement/strategic plan is drafted based on narrow perceptions of a problem or need and does not connect to the district's data. Offer to help interpret, analyze, and present the findings and help develop appropriate solutions. The school improvement/strategic plans are developed by knowledgeable professionals utilizing data collected from a variety of sources. The plan's activities are linked to research based strategies.
The school's administration is not engaged in identifying or resolving student needs. The leadership team is assembled without identified roles, responsibilities, and influential decision-makers.

Offer to work with the school administration to lead the team selection and development process.

Utilize existing resources (in this chapter) to help identify the various roles, and assign those roles collaboratively.

Each member of the leadership team is selected based on their special expertise and has a clearly articulated role, including an identified team leader.
Leadership and staff expect significant changes in unrealistic time periods (i.e., expecting too much, too soon). Leadership teams make unreasonable and unsustainable goals, recommendations, and timelines for change. Work together with the leadership team to consider all data collected and information from the resource mapping to determine realistic plans that can support and sustain change. Use the needs assessment data in conjunction with resource mapping to identify adequate and achievable goals.
A dynamic leader shoulders too much of the accountability for change without a plan for succession and sustainability. Plans are developed and implemented without adequate team member and external stakeholder investment and do not survive leadership transitions or implementation challenges. Recommend forming an implementation and evaluation team with a clear commitment to the plan, and offer to participate. A clear plan is in place to monitor the progress and efficacy of all action steps taken.
The activity is viewed as extra-curricular, to be completed when time allows rather than as an integral step toward school improvement. The process for change is put on hold as other competing demands overwhelm the staff. Identify colleagues and fellow specialized instructional support personnel who are willing to work with you to implement the process needed for sustainable change. Data are used to identify a need for additional mental and behavioral health services and/or staff, and you advocate for a broad-based role and school-employed providers who can coordinate with community providers.