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***Post written by Sarah Perkins, WSPA President***
This year, I was lucky enough to attend the NASP Convention in Baltimore. It was my first time attending a NASP Convention and I am so glad I went. Two sessions stood out to me and provided information that I could immediately integrate into my current practice.
The first session was “Cognitive Profiling in School Psychology: A Challenging History” by Ryan J. McGill, Stefan Dombrowski, and Gary L. Canivez. The focus of this session was on the statistical and mathematics strengths and weaknesses of various scores obtained in a cognitive assessment. The overall conclusion was that there are no scores except the overall cognitive ability that has any real meaning. That means that index scores and definitely subtest scores are not worth interpreting as their variance can be largely explained by chance and by the overall score.
Now I have not personally dug into their research to see if this holds up under scrutiny. If it does, however, it has definite implications for our reports and our evaluative focus. It also has huge implications for the future of Specific Learning Disability qualifications. While Wyoming is still largely a discrepancy state, it would appear that the other models of qualification, like patterns of strengths and weaknesses, may not be valid, if these presenters are correct. This presentation was based on this paper if you want more information about it. If you are not able to download the paper due to a paywall, the presenters said they would be more than happy to send a copy to anyone who emails them.
The second presentation that I keep thinking about was called “Writing Useful and Legally Defensible Psychoeducational Reports” by Jeanne Anne Carrier and Michael Hass. This was based on a book by the presenters so the following will be a very abbreviated version.
The gist of the presentation was that reports should be based entirely on the referral questions. In fact, the headings in our report should be those questions (for example, “What are John’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses?”). Under each of those questions, we should include information from a review or records, observation, interviews, and testing.
The one area where I was confused is that the presenters said, when I asked about social workers gathering social history information, that it was my job to gather all of this information into my report. I am unclear whether they mean that I should do most if not all of the evaluation with very little work by my team members, that I should synthesize and interpret the work of my colleagues, or that we should all be writing on one collaborative report. Regardless, this would be a huge change in the functioning and culture of all of my SPED teams.
What do you think of these both of these ideas? How could this change our practice?