School Psychologists help students succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. They collaborate with educators, parents, and other professionals to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments that strengthen connections between home, school, and the community for all students.
School Psychologists are highly trained in both psychology and education. This training emphasizes preparation in mental health and educational interventions, child development, learning, behavior, motivation, curriculum and instruction, assessment, consultation, collaboration, school law, and systems. CUSD School Psychologists are certified by the state of Arizona, as well as by the National School Psychology Certification Board (NSPCB). They also abide by the ethical and training standards for practice and service delivery set forth by the National Association of School Psychologist.
Within the school, psychologists work with students, parents, teachers, and administrators in the following capacities:
- Identify and address learning and behavior problems that interfere with school success.
- Complete psycho-educational assessments in order to determine if struggling students are in need of special education services.
- Support students’ social, emotional, and behavioral needs by providing school based counseling services and assisting with the development of individualized behavior plans.
- Promote home, school and community collaboration to assist with academic and social/emotional success.
- Assist with the design and implementation of student intervention plans and progress monitoring systems for general and special education students.
- Consult with teachers and administrators to create positive and motivating classroom environments.
- Collect and analyze data related to school improvement, student outcomes, and
- Implement school-wide prevention programs that help maintain positive school
climates conducive to learning.
- Promote school policies and practices that ensure the safety of all students by
reducing school violence, bullying, and harassment.
- Respond to crises by providing leadership, direct services, and coordination with
needed community services.
- Help students transition to and from school and community learning
environments, such as residential treatment or juvenile justice programs.
In conjunction with the Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team, School Psychologists make recommendations for special education eligibility. Students can be determined eligible for special education services when they meet the criteria for one of the following conditions which has an adverse impact on their ability to access the general education curriculum. The following is a list of possible handicapping condition in accordance with the Arizona Department of Education:
- Emotional Disability
- Hearing Impairment
- Vision Impairment
- Mild Mental Retardation
- Moderate Mental Retardation
- Severe Mental Retardation
- Multiple Disabilities
- Multiple Disabilities with Severe Sensory Impairment
- Orthopedic Impairment
- Other Health Impairment
- Speech/Language Impairment
- Specific Learning Disability
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Developmental Delay
- Preschool Severe Delay
How can my child be referred for a psychoeducational evaluation?
Students can be referred for an evaluation in one of two ways, through a parent request or Intervention Planning Team referral:
- Parent Request: If parents have concerns that their child may have a learning disability, they have the right to request a psychoeducational evaluation to determine if he or she qualifies for special education services. If a parent or guardian has provided a written request for an evaluation, the school psychologist will arrange a Review of Existing Data meeting to determine if an evaluation is warranted.
- Intervention Planning Team Referral: CUSD utilizes a problem solving approach through the Response to Intervention model in order to identify students At-Risk of academic failure or who may exhibit a learning disability. Once a student is identified as At-Risk, the IPT will convene to develop an intervention plan designed to provide early and effective interventions prior to a special education evaluation. After exhausting available intervention options, the team may refer a student for testing. The RtI process is described in more detail below:
Response-to-Intervention (RTI) is a method of academic intervention designed to provide early and effective assistance to children who are having difficulty learning. RTI seeks to prevent academic failure through implementing universal research-based methods of instruction, frequent progress measurement, and increasingly intensive research-based instructional interventions for children who continue to have difficulty.
Within the district’s RTI model, all students receive explicit, systematic, and differentiated instruction as part of the core curriculum or Tier I. Students who fail to demonstrate adequate progress as determined by benchmark assessments and classroom based data may be determined to need additional interventions in the form of small group, targeted instruction two to three days a week within Tier II. The need for these additional interventions is determined by the school’s Intervention Planning Team. Students who fail to make progress, or who continue to display inconsistent progress within Tier II may be determined by the team to receive Tier III interventions. Tier III Interventions are designed to be more intensive than the previous level, and are delivered in an even smaller group at a more frequent rate (four to five days a week). When receiving these said interventions, teachers monitor the students’ progress according to the schedule determined by the Intervention Planning Team (IPT) to determine if they are closing the achievement gap. Interventions are stopped when a student closes the achievement gap and can, therefore, be successful with only receiving differentiated instruction within Tier I (core curriculum). If, the student fails to respond to intense (Tier III) interventions, he or she may be referred by the IPT for a psycho-education evaluation to determine if they have a learning disability.
Parents will be invited to Intervention Planning Team meetings by the school’s IPT coordinator and will be kept informed of the intervention plans and decisions about their child. If parents are concerned about their child’s academic progress and would like to request special education testing, they are encouraged to first request that general education interventions be designed by the school’s IPT through this Response to Intervention Model.