Step 2: Assess Your Capacity to Advocate for the NASP Practice Model

To what extent are you able to talk about the NASP Practice Model and why it matters? The key questions below can help you assess your capacity to advocate for the NASP Practice Model. 

Key Questions

I. Current Climate and Role

A. What is your current professional role?

  • Does your current role as a school psychologist include:
    • broad-based role with a balance of assessment, intervention, and consultation activities
    • services primarily focused on special education students and involve assessment, classification, and IEP services
    • prevention services, intervention, and promotion of mental and behavioral health services like bully proofing, social-emotional learning, etc.
    • crisis team planning and crisis intervention services
    • consultation services focused on academic and behavioral issues
    • active participant in general education multidisciplinary teams (e.g., school improvement, RTI, PBIS)
    • direct services to special and general education students such as counseling and skills training
  • To what extent do you intentionally provide services aligned with the NASP Practice Model?
  • What services would you like to provide that you are not currently offering?
  • What are the barriers to you providing those services (e.g., large caseloads, students with intense needs)? What factors contribute to those barriers (e.g., lots of time spent writing reports)?

B. What is your current professional value?

  • What do your administrators, colleagues, and consumers of your services (students and their families) value about what you do?
  • How are you generally regarded in the district/state by different stakeholder groups (teachers, principals, parents, central administrators)?
  • What have you proactively done to establish your value and worth as service providers for all students in your school buildings?
  • What current data do you collect that speaks to the positive impact of your work on students and your schools?
  • What else could you be doing in your building or district that would be of value to others? (Think about domains/roles not yet explored or embraced.)
  • How are you working with other school or community-employed professionals to provide comprehensive and coordinated services for children and families? What impact are these services having on student and school success?
  • What are the unique services and supports that you are providing that are not offered by others (school counselors, school social workers, school nurses) in your school? How are these services valued by your school administrators, teachers, and parents?
  • In what advocacy efforts have you engaged in the past, and how were they received?

C. What are your current professional threats and risks?

  • What are the current threats or risks to the implementation of the NASP Practice Model in your district by you and your fellow school psychologists (e.g., budget cuts, loss of reputation, narrowing of role, school reform efforts)?
  • Are these threats real or perceived? Evidence?
  • Are there any current efforts or initiatives going on to prevent position cuts and/or cuts to school psychological services?
  • To what extent are you working collaboratively with other school-employed mental health professionals? To what extent do you compete for resources and positions? Is there competition, real or perceived, between the professions? What impact does this competition have?
  • What other professionals in the district might assume some of your role if cuts do occur (e.g., behavior specialists)?
  • What other professionals outside of the district might assume some of the roles you provide if cuts do occur (e.g., contracted services through local mental health agencies, privately employed clinical psychologists)?

D. What is your job stability?

  • Are you at risk for losing your job? YES or NO
  • If yes, is this because of a performance-related issue, or are school psychologists as a whole targeted for cuts? If school psychologists are under attack, how are they approaching these cuts?
    • Whole group (e.g., 40% of existing school psychologist positions being cut)
    • Individuals (e.g., all employees with only 1 year of experience are being terminated)
    • Across the board cuts (e.g., every department is required to cut 2% of staff)
    • Shifting to contractual services (e.g., contracting for specific activities and services provided by alternative providers instead of comprehensive services by existing employees)
    • Reduction in the qualifications required for school psychologist positions (e.g., replacing school psychologists with lower skilled educational diagnosticians, paraprofessionals)?
  • How are your role and the roles of other school psychologists changing in your district? Are these changes narrowing or expanding your services? How are you and the other school psychologists responding to these changes?
  • When a school psychologist retires, what typically happens to their position?
  • Which school psychologists in your district are considered the most valuable to your system? Why? What do you have in common with them?

II. Agency Profile and PrioritiesA. System Priorities and School Psychologists

  • How are you involved in key educational reform and accountability initiatives (e.g., school improvement efforts, RTI, PBIS, progress monitoring, school safety initiatives)?
  • How are you demonstrating leadership in areas related to administrator priorities and initiatives?
  • What have you done to create awareness of the NASP Practice Model (e.g., presentations to the board of education, district/state newsletter articles, community media outlets)? How have these efforts been received?
  • How are school psychologist positions typically funded in your district?
    • through local educational agency funds (school district funds)
    • through state education agency funds (state department of education)
      • Title I
      • IDEA
    • federal grant funds
    • other (please explain)
  • What other funding sources contribute to school psychologist positions?
    • Building principal discretionary funds
    • School-based health clinics
    • School-community partnerships
    • Grants from businesses to other foundations
    • Other

B. Decision Making

  • How are you included in building-level and district-level decision making?
  • Do you have a supervisor who is a school psychologist?
    • If yes, how is your supervisor representing your skills, services, and value with other school administrators? How are they involved in district-level personnel decisions? How influential and successful are they at securing resources for school psychologists?
    • If no, who, in a position of influence, can you build a relationship with and ask for support?

C. Local School Board

  • How familiar is your school board with the NASP Practice Model and the value of school psychologists?
  • What presentations to the board by school psychologists have been made in the past, who delivered them, and how were they received?
  • How can you and your fellow school psychologists use the NASP Practice Model to demonstrate alignment with the current priorities of the board?
  • What board member can you build a relationship with who might advocate for the NASP Practice Model and be an advocate for school psychologists' value during tight budget periods?


III. Students/FamiliesA. Key Stakeholders

  • How can you use the NASP Practice Model to highlight the role of school psychologists in helping to remedy problems faced by students, families, and school personnel?
  • How does the NASP Practice Model describe your services that benefit the whole school population? What do you do to support special or vulnerable populations? What do you do to support teachers? How are you currently assisting your school principal?
  • What students, parents, and families can you ask to help advocate for your services (e.g., share their story about the value of your services and their fears if the services are reduced or lost)?
  • Do you utilize any specific tools for tracking the services and supports you provide to students? If so, to what extent do those tools align with the NASP Practice Model domains?

In order to for you to be able to respond to the issues and challenges facing your school buildings and district, you need to be knowledgeable and familiar with the purpose, design, and benefits of the NASP Practice Model. One of the important steps to effective advocacy for the practice model is becoming knowledgeable about the model itself, how it benefits students and schools, and the basic information supporting the importance of advancing national professional standards.

The NASP website has an extensive amount of information about the NASP Practice Model and as you embark on advocacy for the model. Here are few suggested activities:

  1. Watch the NASP Practice Model webinar.
  2. Become familiar with the NASP Practice Model webpage
    1. Review the promotion and implementation materials.
    2. Become familiar with the NASP Practice Model brochure. This resource will be the primary document that you will share with stakeholder groups when talking about the model.
  3. Review the basic talking points that can be used to promote the model and answer people’s questions about the model. These points were summarized in a 2010 Communiqué article.
  4. Review the NASP key messages for school psychologists, and be familiar with how these messages connect to the NASP Practice Model.
  5. Take the online learning session that was offered as a 2015 NASP convention session, “One Step at a Time: Using the NASP Practice Model to Improve Your Role.” The handouts for the session (DS001) may also be reviewed online.

Once you are prepared and understand the basics of the model and the benefits to be achieved from adoption of the model, then you are ready to begin planning your advocacy campaign.