Feature Article

Getting out of the silo: Advancing school psychology science, practice and policy through interdisciplinary collaboration

Interdisciplinary collaboration and working in teams are critically important for promoting our science. We have much to learn from other scholars; likewise, we have much to share.

By Linda A. Reddy, PhD

Linda A. Reddy, PhDAs president, it is a tremendous honor and pleasure to serve Div. 16 during 2014. I am strongly committed to continue the important initiatives set by Shane Jimerson and Vincent Alfonso and build on the many accomplishments of my predecessors (e.g., Elaine Clark, Jean Baker, Cecil Reynolds, Gary Stoner, Frank Worrell, Tammy Hughes, Bonnie Nastasi, Karen Stoiber). The past presidents (over 50) have served the division tirelessly and with great distinction. I would like to thank the Executive Committee for their tremendous support. Special thanks to Shane Jimerson (2012) and Vincent Alfonso (2013) for their guidance in preparing me for this year.

My goals for Div. 16 are to advance science, practice and policy through: (1) active interdisciplinary collaborations, (2) partnerships with other APA divisions, (3) membership involvement, (4) dissemination and work group efforts and (5) strategic involvement in APA Governance.

Active Interdisciplinary Collaboration

I strongly believe that interdisciplinary collaboration and working in teams are critically important for promoting our science, practice and policy for children, families and school communities worldwide. We have much to learn from other scholars and practitioners from fields such as education, special education, statistics, measurement, clinical and counseling psychology, medicine, nursing, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, computer and engineering technology and anthropology. Likewise, we have much to share with other fields that can help generate innovations in assessments and interventions. Through interdisciplinary collaborations others' learn about school psychology and develop a deeper understanding of our science and practice. It is important to recognize that school psychology science is disseminated in school psychology and non-school psychology journals. For example, our scholarship can be seen in neuropsychology, medicine, special education, measurement, assessment, developmental, speech and language, and child clinical journals. The value of interdisciplinary collaboration can be seen in many APA task forces such as:

These task forces included Div. 16 members and resulted in congressional briefings and on-going communications with key policy makers today. In 2014, Div. 16 (led by Kris Vargas) and Div. 44 (Society for the Psychological Studies of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues) were awarded a CODAPAR grant ( Improving School Climate for LGBT Youth: Resources and Interventions ) that will develop recommendations and resources (e.g., model curricula, strategies) for school psychologists, school administrators, staff, teachers and community agencies to promote the health of LGBT youth.

Interdisciplinary collaboration is also valued by federal funding agencies such as National Science Foundation, Institute of Education Sciences, National Institute of Justice, and National Institute of Health. Working together in interdisciplinary teams will help us navigate the many challenges and opportunities we face with national health care (Affordable Care Act) and education reform (e.g., Elementary and Secondary Education Act and educator evaluation movement). As President, I strongly encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and welcome your participation in promoting the science, practice and policy of school psychology at the state, national and international level. Please visit our Div. 16 website.

Partnerships with Other APA Divisions for the 2014 APA Convention

Under the leadership of Robin Codding (2014 Convention Chair), we have an outstanding Div. 16 APA Convention program. For 2014 the APA Convention has reduced the number of divisional programming hours and increased the number of cross-divisional programming hours. During my president-elect year (2013), Robin Codding and I engaged in cross-divisional collaborations with Divs. 7, 21, 37, 41, 53, 54, 56 and American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS). As a result, seven interactive symposiums and roundtables have been accepted. These c ross-divisional collaborations have developed positive partnerships with other divisions, increased Div. 16 visibility and enhanced Div. 16's opportunities for APA Governance. We will be in communication soon on the dates for these outstanding presentations. Please “save the dates” (August 7-10), and join us for an excellent APA convention in Washington, D.C.

Membership Involvement and Numbers

Div. 16 Executive Committee members represent the interests of membership. However, we need your feedback and participation in all Div. 16 activities. During 2013, 13 members expressed interest in servicing the division. Many of these individuals were early career psychologists (ECPs), as well as mid and advanced career practitioners and trainers. We welcome membership participation. If you are interested in serving Div. 16, please contact James DiPerna (president-elect) and me.

The number of Div. 16 members is critically important for our visibility and “voice” in APA governance. Our membership campaign requires a team effort . We must increase our membership to maintain our number of APA Council Representatives. Unfortunately, our Council Representatives (i.e., Tammy Hughes, Frank Worrell, and Beth Doll) will be reduced from three to two by the end of 2014. We need to increase our membership numbers and increase our votes (i.e., 10) on the APA apportionment ballot this fall. Please encourage your colleagues and students to join Div. 16 today and help us “get the vote out” for the APA apportionment ballot. Note that first year membership is free for 2014. (See membership application, PDF. 474KB) Please contact Jessica Hoffman (vice president of membership) to help us increase membership. Over the next few months, I will be communicating with you on ways you can help increase our number of APA Council of Representatives.

Under the leadership of Jessica Hoffman, we developed an Early Career Psychologist (ECP) Work Group. I would like thank Prerna Arora ‎(chair), Amanda Sullivan, Bryn Harris ‎, Natascha Santos, Kristin Thompson, and Cait Hynes  for their leadership and tremendous contributions. Likewise, I thank David Cheng, President of the Student Affiliates of School Psychology (SASP) and the SASP Executive Committee (Cait Hynes, Jennifer Cooper, Samara Montilus, Kendall Bowles, Candice Aston, Rachel Stein, and Jeremy Rime) for working tirelessly with the Div. 16 Executive Committee on engaging graduate student involvement in the division. Our ECPs and SASP members are “the future” of the division and vital to advancing the science, practice and policy of school psychology for decades to come. We welcome ECPs and SASP members in all Div. 16 activities. We encourage ECPs and graduate students to please contact James DiPerna (president-elect) and me with any suggestions.

Dissemination and Work Group Efforts

As President, I will continue to strongly encourage Div. 16 members to disseminate their scholarship and practice through our outstanding publications: The School Psychologist, Applying Psychology in the Schools Book Series, and School Psychology Quarterly. Under the leadership of Melissa Pearrow (Vice-President of Publications and Communications), these publications showcase membership contributions worldwide. TheSchool Psychologist is considered one of the best divisional newsletters in APA. Please review the latest issues and submit brief papers and commentaries to the editor, Rosemary Flanagan. We encourage you to visit the Div. 16 Applying Psychology in the Schools Book Series that includes over 14 volumes. Please submit book proposals to Melissa Pearrow. The editor-in-chief of School Psychology Quarterly, Shane Jimerson, has significantly increased the number of manuscript submissions and reduced the article review process to an average of 18 days. School Psychology Quarterly presents premier scholarship from around the world and now offers editorial board members continuing education units for their reviews. Please submit your best work to School Psychology Quarterly.

In 2010, the division strategically created three work groups. The original work groups are: Translation of Science to Practice and Policy (Karen Stoiber, Chair); Globalization of School Psychology (Sissy Hatzichristou, Chair), and Social Justice and Child Rights (Stuart Hart, Chair). These work groups have resulted in substantial dissemination efforts (e.g., articles, presentations, workshops, manuals, book proposals, journal series).

Based on feedback from membership, the division created a fourth work group, Mental Health in Schools (James DiPerna and Stacy Overstreet, co-chairs) in 2013. The Mental Health Work Group has identified two subgroups, mental health promotion in schools and trauma focused school-based services. The goals of the subgroups are the same, to develop resources that: (1) address gaps in the training of school psychologists for mental health promotion and trauma focused services in schools and (2) help key stakeholders (administrators and school board personnel) make informed decisions regarding mental health promotion and trauma focused services within their schools. Several dissemination efforts will be completed by the work group such as a needs assessment with school psychology trainers, interns, and supervisors; curricula development; training guides and journal articles.

In sum, the four work groups exemplify the division's strategic planning and sustained efforts for promoting science, practice and policy in education. Each work group has representation from the Div. 16 Executive Committee and members (i.e., practitioners, trainers, early career psychologists, and graduate students). Please join us in our efforts to advance practice in schools.

Strategic Involvement in APA Governance

It is critically important for Div. 16 to strategically increase and sustain its presence in APA governance specifically APA Boards and Committees. APA is the most powerful psychology association in the world. In 2011, Shane Jimerson created the APA Governance Committee which included Tammy Hughes, Frank Worrell, Beth Doll and myself (serving as chair from 2011-2013). The committee focused on increasing Div. 16 involvement in APA Boards and Committees. Going forward this committee will include all president-elects to sustain communications and efforts. In January, Beth Doll and I e-mailed the membership to identify members interested in being nominated for APA Boards and Committees. The response was tremendous, thank you. Communications will continue throughout the year as we strategically help members get on APA ballots and hopefully (eventually) become elected to APA Boards and Committees. As a recently elected member of the Board of Professional Affairs (2014-2017), I hope to learn more about APA governance and continue to contribute to this important initiative.

As noted, it is important for us to increase our number of APA Council Representatives (i.e., two to three seats) in the near future. These initiatives will enhance school psychology's visibility and input in important issues such as predoctoral internships, licensure, and future discussions of the Model License Act. Div. 16 needs to be “at the table” with other professional psychologists engaging in thoughtful (planned) discussions that inform system and policy changes, which impact children, families, schools, and communities. Please contact me if you are interested in learning more about our efforts in APA governance.

Throughout 2014, I look forward to communicating on the division's good work through our excellent website ( The School Psychologist; Twitter and Facebook led by Shane Jimerson our Technology Chair) and Div.16 announce-only email messages. Our website includes all Executive Committee meeting minutes, initiatives, and updates. Please take some time to visit our Div. 16 website. I also welcome hearing from you and learning about other important topics and activities you believe warrant further consideration by the division. Again please consider contributing to Div. 16 in the many roles and activities that advance our science, practice and policy for schools.