School Psychological Services in High Schools: Responding to Teachers’ Needs Presented by Kari Sears, Ed.S., NCSP, Patricia Warner, Ph.D., NCSP, Tammy Gilligan, Ph.D., NCSP
Introduction • School psychologists serving multiple school must prioritize time and services • Legislation, special education regulations, greater accountability and shortage of professionals have made assessment a priority • Lack of knowledge and contact with school psychologists may affect teachers’ perceptions of the profession and their utilization of services which may be helpful to them • Past research has utilized samples entirely or largely made of elementary teachers or school psychologists who predominately serve elementary schools
Hypotheses Based on the present review of literature concerning the role of the school psychologist and teacher perceptions of the profession, the following hypotheses were developed: • Teachers will report a willingness to seek assistance for various classroom problems, but often from professionals other than school psychologists. • Teachers will report having few interactions with school psychologists. • Teachers will report knowing fewer available services than are actually available. • Teachers will report being moderately satisfied with school psychologists’ help and accessibility. • Teachers will report wanting school psychologists to provide more indirect services (i.e. consultation, counseling).
Participants N = 94 3 comprehensive high schools 76% female, 23% male, 1% unspecified 88% regular education, 11% special education, 1% not specified Average Years Experience = 11.5 Average Years at Current School = 6.4 Median Years Experience = 7 Mode Years = 3, 5 Methods Anonymous paper and pencil survey developed based on research in the literature about the role of the school psychologist and teachers’ perceptions of and interactions with school psychologists. Areas of interest: demographics, classroom, knowledge of school psychologists/services, perceptions of school psychologists Likert items (rating from 1 -5) Forced choice, open response
Classroom Teachers reported experiencing a variety of multiple problems in their classrooms.
Classroom • For the problems they did encounter, teachers reported being fairly likely to seek help, with an average rating of 3.33 on a likert scale ranging from one to five. • Who they turned to for help depended on the type of problem experienced. In addition, teachers reported seeking help from several different professionals for each problem. Problem Most Frequently Cited Professional Learning disability Another Teacher (47.8%) Aggression/Threats Principal/Admin. (58.5%) Emotional Difficulty School Counselor (55.3%) Homework Other (50%) Attendance Principal/Admin. (50%) Disruptive Behavior School Counselor (22.3%) Crisis School Counselor (42.5%)
Knowledge • 90% of participants reported that they knew who their school psychologist in their school was. • 88% of respondents reported that they had interacted with the psychologist in some way. Most teachers reported few to no interactions (0-5 in a typical school year). • Most common interactions: Consultations about a student (69%) IEP meetings (64%) Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS) teams (25%)
Knowledge • 23% of respondents did not know, or were unsure of what services their school psychologist provides • Those that did report some knowledge seem to hold accurate views about available services • Most frequently cited services reported by teachers include: assessment, consultation, individual counseling, participation on teams, intervention work
Perceptions • In regards to what services they believe their school psychologist needs to provide more of, participants most often reported needing: • teacher trainings/in-services (32%) • intervention work (31%) • crisis intervention (27.6%) • individual counseling (24.4%) • parent trainings (23%) • group counseling and FBAs/BIPs (20.2% each) • Only 13.8% reported needing no additional services.
Perceptions • Participants reported being mostly satisfied with the help provided by their school psychologist (average rating of 3.9 out of 5) • Participants reported that their psychologist is usually accessible (average rating of 3.8 out of 5) • Teachers view school psychologists’ helpfulness differently, depending on the specific problem. • School psychologists are perceived to be most helpful regarding crisis intervention and social/emotional needs (average rating of 4.1 out of 5) • Perceived to be least helpful regarding academics (average rating of 2.1 out of 5)
Conclusions • A lack of knowledge about available services does not seem to negatively impact perceptions of helpfulness, however, perceptions about the role of the psychologist do seem to impact the utilization of such services. Overall teachers report positive perceptions regarding school psychologists and the services they provide. • In addition to services they currently receive, many teachers seem to perceive a need for additional services such as teacher and parent trainings, group counseling and crisis intervention, reinforcing the growing need for more school psychologists to help lower ratios in order to provide these types of services. • There is still a large number of high school teachers who do not know or are unsure of what services their school psychologist provides. Psychologists serving high schools may consider this information to help guide their involvement and role in schools. This suggests that more education regarding the role of the school psychologist is needed, not only in teacher training programs, but also in school districts themselves.
Conclusions • Knowledge of services did not seem to be enough to prompt teachers to consult with school psychologists regularly or often. Consistent with past research, current results suggest teachers most often seek help from other school professionals such as guidance counselors and administrators. • School psychologists may be able to more effectively address common problems by consulting and collaborating with the professionals whom teachers do to go to for help (i.e. administrators and guidance counselors). By collaborating with these individuals to help develop school policies and school wide interventions, school psychologists can more effectively serve a larger number of students and teachers. • Results suggest that high school teachers value the school psychologist more as a mental health provider. Such views may help to expand training programs, improve efficacy, and support role shifts toward a greater mental health focus.