Differentiate Efforts and Strengthen Visibility
As the field of school psychology becomes more diverse and complex, one of the primary goals of my presidency is to differentiate efforts of Division 16 within the School Psychology and Psychology community and strengthen its visibility. As an EC, we made a strategic decision. In order for the division to optimize its impact and efforts, we need to focus resources. By focusing our efforts on important key areas, it would help the division clarify its identity and promote its impact. We realized the need to broaden participants in our differentiated agenda so as to grow our membership. We believed it was critical at this juncture in time, especially with the economic downturn and budget cuts, to make sure that our efforts matter, have an impact, and serve our members.
A personal goal of mine is to promote a culture within the EC and the division that encourages all of us to perform at our best. To share ideas freely and to feel efficacious as we nudge toward making a difference for children and families. Members of the EC bring tremendous expertise in areas such as bullying (Susan Swearer), nutrition and obesity prevention (Jessica Hoffman), literacy assessment (Jim DiPerna), progress monitoring (Amanda Vanderheyden), racial identity and measurement (Frank Worrell), evidence-based assessment practices (Linda Reddy), social development and resiliency (Beth Doll) and internalizing disorders (Lea Theodore). It goes without saying that this is an impressive group, who are committed to make significant contributions to the science and practice of school psychology. Together the EC promises to put a high level of quality into helping the profession facilitate schools in meeting standards for learning and establishing action plans for meeting the mental health needs of children and families. To do so, however, requires clarity around what the division has to offer.
Thus, to achieve our goal of "making a difference" in areas that matter, the EC is continuing efforts toward three key initiatives. These initiatives were selected as science-practice-policy domains where we believed we could foster innovations and add value to the field. The initiatives were strategic in that they mapped on to places we felt we could strengthen science, practice, and policies linked to School Psychology, and that individuals within the EC could be a facilitating force. The initiatives are being driven by the following Working Groups: Translation of Science to Practice and Policy: Mental Health and Learning (Co-Chairs: Sylvia Rosenfield and Susan Forman; EC Facilitator: Karen Stoiber); Social Justice and Child Rights (Chair: Stuart Hart; EC Facilitator: Bonnie Nastasi); Globalization of School Psychology (Chair: Sissy Hatzichristou; EC Facilitator: Shane Jimerson). When we developed these initiatives a year ago, we viewed them as fostering a well-planned journey for the division. We harnessed the initiatives to the various presidential roles (President: Stoiber; Past-President: Nastasi; President-Elect: Jimerson) to give them legs belong the one year of a particular president. Any long-term journey requires a roadmap, and that's what the Working Groups are now configuring to advance our mission. In the course of this year through this column, I plan to share thoughts and hopefully promote thinking about these initiatives.
I start by highlighting the Translation Working Group.
Diving Deeper into the Translation Working Group
As the EC Facilitator of the Translation of Science to Practice and Policy Working Group, I first want to dialogue about why this focus emerged. To do so, it is important to clarify what translational work usually means, and why and how it may need to be altered to fit within the context of schools and school psychology. First, translational work stems from a national agenda which emphasizes if we are serious as a nation about improving children's health and mental health, we must tackle taking new findings from basic 'bench science' and translate them into practical applications aimed at prevention and at helping children and families function more effectively (NIH, Translational Research). Although there is clearly national momentum from NIH as well as other national education and psychology groups (e.g., What Works Clearinghouse, Promising Practices Network) for science-based practice and policies for translational work, embracing its importance by the division is only a first-step, and one that perhaps could be better characterized as a "baby step." There is much work to be done!
As the Translation Working Group grapples with the science to practice and policy agenda, it is first exploring whether, when, and how it is feasible to take strategies and methods proven to work in laboratory or clinic-like settings and apply them in school settings. Increasingly, as notions of bench-to- classroom are examined, the field has come to realize that this really is a two- way street (Stoiber, 2010; Stoiber and DeSmet, 2010). Our focus on science- based practice has led us to also consider practice-based research (Westfall, Mold, and Fagman, 2007) and its implications for the profession. At minimum, there are five component drivers or activities needed to make both science-based practice and practice-based research more integral in the lives of school psychologists. These component drivers include:
- Conducting Inquiry—Determining what knowledge and understandings of evidence-based practices and interventions are "known" and used by trainers and graduate students.
- Promoting Innovation—Fostering constructive and innovative development of evidence-based practices and interventions that fit within schools.
- Developing Training and Education—Targeting development and training experiences to maximize trainer and graduate student understanding of evidence-based practices and interventions.
- Fostering Relationships—Identifying and building networks with other school psychology, psychology, and education organizations to advance the initiative.
- Delivering Results—Setting and achieving goals by effectively accessing and managing resources to get things done.
The actual work corresponding to each component driver is taking several forms by the Translational group. For example, as part of the conducting inquiry work, Sylvia Rosenfield and Susan Forman are conducting focus groups and planning surveys of School Psychology trainers and students. To start the process of promoting innovation, we are examining current knowledge via literature and website search inquiries to find best treatment options. We also are exploring particular areas in which we believe we could uncover optimal prevention and intervention strategies, such as treatment of ADHD, depression, social anxiety, or eating disorders. To develop training and education materials, we are determining cost-effective and viable treatments along with ways they may be adapted to various school settings. We are fostering relationships with other organizations with the intent of co-sponsoring some of our activities and products. And as a way to make sure that we deliver results, we conduct regular discussions and create action plans for next steps. We are in the process of developing "white papers" as a mechanism to share our findings and products on the Division 16 website. Stay tuned as a new website will be launched soon with more offerings and resources available.
Every step along the way toward translating science-to-practice and fostering practice-based research policy is an important one. The Working Groups are a powerful mechanism to engage the division in its mission of "Translating science to practice and policy to promote mental health and learning of children and adolescents from a transcultural and transnational perspective." We are seriously engaged in actions and activities aimed at improving all children's mental health and academic success. The division is committed to providing support and resources toward this goal. We hope to engage each of you as we work to make this happen.
Stoiber, K. C., & DeSmet, J. (2010). Guidelines for evidencebased practice in selecting interventions. In R. Ervin, G. Peacock, E. Daly, & K. Merrell (Eds). Practical Handbook of School Psychology (pp. 213-234), NY : Guilford.
Stoiber, K. (2011) Translating knowledge of social emotional learning and evidence based practice into responsive school innovations. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 21.
Westfall, J.M., Mold, J., & Fagman, L. (2007). Practice-based research—"Blue highway" on the NIH Roadmap. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 297, 403-406.