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eeza's Message:

As a school psychologist, I meet with the counselors weekly to go over any kids that may need to see the mental health clinician we have on site. There are kids referred every week! After each meeting, I leave feeling go grateful that I have not/am not going through what some of these kids experience.

I have never had suicidal thoughts, never been abused, etc. It makes me so thankful for my own mental health. Sure, I have issues (really, who doesn't?), but it pales in comparison to what some of the kids experience.

Here's to mental health!

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Discussion Review (newest messages first)
GraceKrispy 04-12-2016 10:47 AM

Super late to the party.... (been consumed by my paper writing and my job(s)) Not sure if anyone will see these at this point, but I'll respond to both ideas in this thread anyway

re: mental health: One of the reasons I got into education in the first place, and then into counseling and school psychology was because I've experienced some of the things those kids have experienced and I found support and confidence at school. I want to be able to be there for other kids in that way. It makes me thankful that I am not in the same place I was in those days. And I want others to have hope that things can get better. Some situations kids are experiencing are just so much more horrific than anything I've gone through. That breaks my heart

As to the other question/issue... it really does vary by district. I'm always amazed at what other districts do. In HI, school psychs were rarely members of the IEP team, always members of the evaluation team, but never led the meetings. That job went to another team member who attended evaluation meetings (eligibility meetings) and IEPs. It was a special position and that was basically the job- to schedule and lead these meetings, and do academic testing. Every school had one of those people, but school psychs serviced up to 6 schools. Our teams were definitely more "team-like" and no one person made the decision. We had some school psychs from the mainland who seemed to forget the "team" aspect and acted like their opinions were the only opinions, but that didn't go over well at all.That being said, the team agreed with my opinions 99.9% of the time. Once we did not agree on an SLD reeval. The team went one way, I was supporting a different way. I wrote a statement of dissent on the paperwork and that was that. (any team member could write a statement of dissent if they disagreed and did not want to sign)

We didn't use discrepancy model where I was in in HI (commonly called the "wait to fail" model). It was written in the state regs that we could use either discrepancy or a processing strengths/weaknesses (PSW) and RTI model, but our area of the state disallowed discrepancy. When I moved back to WA (where I was initially trained and worked), I was actually shocked that they still used discrepancy. Some districts have moved more to PSW and/or RTI. I can see the school psych having more say in a team when discrepancy is used because it's either met or not, based on the testing the school psych has done.

WRT Recommendations, I was always taught that they should always be written in such a way that the district was not required to follow any of them. For example, I couldn't say "X should be evaluated by a psychiatrist for ADHD and medication therapy" or something because the school would then have to pay for a psych appt and I'm not qualified to assess whether a child needs medication. I could, however, say something like "X's parents may wish to consult with healthcare professionals with regards to symptoms of ADHD" or something. I did give a number of fairly specific recommendations with regards to accommodations or teaching strategies, many of which were backed by research, but couched most of them with "may benefit from" or something else so it wasn't saying they HAD to do those. The behavioral health specialists (each school had at least one behavioral health specialist who was responsible for IEP counseling goals-- school counselors did not do that) and sped teachers really appreciated my recommendations (or so they said) and often used them as a basis for IEP goals. I've seen reports where psychs have given nothing recommendations and teachers are frustrated because there is no direction. I see it this way: one part of the evaluation is to provide information about how the child is performing. Necessary for qualification for services. Another part of the evaluation is to provide direction based on how the child is performing. This is the application part. I try to give examples of how to do what I'm saying as well, so anyone can use those ideas.

RTI (or, as people prefer to say now- MTSS- multi-tiered systems of support) is supposed to meet the needs of students who do not qualify for special services. It's supposed to be the first step, and kids who don't benefit from those (general ed) services might need an evaluation and additional services. Way too often, RTI/MTSS is done completely incorrectly, or seen only as a gateway to sped eval/services. It's not supposed to be that at all! Those kids who are low but not "disabled" according to the IDEA definitions are supposed to be receiving intensive support in RTI services consistently. One of my old schools would give them one 6 wk shot, and then that was it. Regardless of whether they made progress, they couldn't do it again. I fought that for so long. It was unethical and not in line with the law in education. If they benefited, they should have continued to receive it in addition to their general ed. That's the way it's supposed to work! If it didn't work, something else (equally intensive) should have been tried, and then an evaluation if that also wasn't successful.

eeza 03-28-2016 09:50 AM

Yes, the system is flawed! The sad part is is that it doesn't seem to be getting better. Sure, there are victories here and there, but, overall, I feel it's not working. I wonder why I stay sometimes!

teachingtall 03-27-2016 08:41 PM


That is exactly why I am not a fan of the model, there are no supports for the slow learners. Especially for family in communities where there is no outside help. When I was a para in Glendale, AZ during the time the economy tanked, there was tutoring available for most kids in the school. Now the kid has to be a cusp kid, and if they are beyond 3rd grade, good luck!

eeza 03-27-2016 07:14 PM

That is why I am open to the other models. If I really feel a kid should qualify, then I will look at the other models or even other eligibility categories to see if that would help.

Some people argue that kid with low IQ's and low ability are just slow learners and don't have a disability. I wouldn't have a problem with this if there were supports available for these kids. If the kid's IQ is low enough, ID would be an appropriate eligibility.

teachingtall 03-27-2016 02:19 PM

I am not a fan of the discrepancy model. If a child is in 3rd/4th and has a low IQ and low ability, they are not going to be successful, so we are going to wait until they are even lower to give them help. It seems to do more harm than good.

eeza 03-25-2016 02:30 PM

We can do both as well as patterns of strengths and weaknesses. I go for discrepancy first and then use the others if needed.

teachingtall 03-25-2016 01:51 PM

Do you use RTI or the Discrepancy model to qualify kids. AZ you can do one or the other or both. It's annoying!

eeza 03-25-2016 08:09 AM

Hey BenSullens! I can help you out as best I can, but my approach may be very different compared to others. With that being said, here it goes....

1) I approach it as an IEP team because I realize that I don't have knowledge in all areas. I do have the power to qualify (or not qualify) for students in a certain area. If a kid doesn't meet the eligibility criteria, then that's's not a team decision. Placement, goals, etc is a team decision and I really feel that all voices should be heard. My interactions with the student are considerably less than others because, other than some counseling, my primary role is testing.

I don't feel I am the special education god, but I know that my title holds more weight than other team members. I don't abuse that though. I respect my colleagues and value their opinion.

2) I keep my recommendations brief just because I feel if it's in my report, then it needs to be done. My recommendations tend to be ones that can be easily put into the IEP and implemented by the teacher. They really are just good teaching practices, just pumped up a bit. I don't quote research because I make my reports parent-friendly since they are my audience. Going on and on about sample sizes and standard error of measurement would put anyone to sleep.

Does that help? Do you have any other questions?

teachingtall 03-24-2016 09:14 PM

I am really in this for my kiddos. They are what makes me want to fight the system so badly!

Eeza, I have some school psych questions for you:

1) In Denver, it was a true IEP team, where everyone did their part and no one person was the leader of an IEP team. In Arizona, it seems like the school psych is the special education god. I am in my 4th year of teaching and I have always been a part of my METs (evals), now I can only do the academic testings (that was only allowed 6 months in) and the psych will evaluate the data. Is this the norm?

2) On the summary in the MET(evals), i was always taught to keep the recommendations brief and only things a general education teacher could do. Then the IEP team would determine if there is a disability present and what it impacts, thus leading to the IEP. Should the MET recommendations be super specific? My current psych quotes research in their recommendations.

eeza 03-24-2016 06:34 PM

Wow, what an awful experience, BenSullens! Admin should be human first and take care of their teachers on a personal level. I know that doesn't always happen, but it should. Teachers and other staff should be encouraged to take time off for mental health, especially after an event like you described.

I am so glad you found your passion for teaching. I have read several of your posts and it sounds like you are a good-hearted person who wants only what is best for the kids.

teachingtall 03-24-2016 01:51 PM

I completely agree with your sentiment on kids and how they all have some crazy f-uped (language is need for some of the kids I work with in my ED program).

But I have to say that as a teacher you are expected to have perfect mental health 99.99% of the time. There was a situation last year where a student of mine disappeared. I spent a good hour looking for him after asking for help, and it took that hour to get help from admin. The district I was in had a security team and I was not allowed to call them, even in the case of a missing child. My admin was new and they didn't want to look bad. In a rush, I walked out a door that had a window in that was already damaged, and I pushed a little to hard and I shattered the window.

Once the child was found, I was not allowed to do anything but walk to my classroom to get my bag and leave. I received any email from my admin that basically said that they were trying to determine the cost of the window and if I was responsible for replacing it. Not once that day, or in the 40 days after that did the admin show concern or care for what happened. Losing a child is a terrible feeling and its an even worse feeling when you are ignored when pleading for help.

After that situation, I almost walked out and did not return to my classroom or that school. I was already non-renewed (basically in my special education classroom that focused on emotional needs of students, i was told my kids are not getting enough academics and that I didn't mainstream the students enough.), and i felt that for my sanity I needed out of that building. Sadly, I could not do that and fought with some nasty demons for the rest of the school year. In the end, I moved back home to AZ, and I found my passion for teaching again.

I would love to see something for teachers where they actually have to use their time off and not be penalized or not given a bonus for taking days off.

I want to see teachers treated as humans again.

eeza 03-21-2016 06:48 PM

As a school psychologist, I meet with the counselors weekly to go over any kids that may need to see the mental health clinician we have on site. There are kids referred every week! After each meeting, I leave feeling go grateful that I have not/am not going through what some of these kids experience.

I have never had suicidal thoughts, never been abused, etc. It makes me so thankful for my own mental health. Sure, I have issues (really, who doesn't?), but it pales in comparison to what some of the kids experience.

Here's to mental health!

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