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Preview: Psychology in the Schools

Psychology in the Schools

Wiley Online Library : Psychology in the Schools

Published: 2018-03-01T00:00:00-05:00




Using item response theory to describe the Nonverbal Literacy Assessment (NVLA)


The Nonverbal Literacy Assessment (NVLA) is a literacy assessment designed for students with significant intellectual disabilities. The 218-item test was initially examined using confirmatory factor analysis. This method showed that the test worked as expected, but the items loaded onto a single factor. This article uses item response theory to investigate the NVLA using Rasch models. First, we reduced the number of items using a unidimensional model, which resulted in high levels of test reliability despite decreasing the number of questions, providing the same information about student abilities in less time. Second, the multidimensional analysis indicated that it is possible to view the NVLA as a test with four dimensions, resulting in more detailed information about student abilities. Finally, we combined these approaches to obtain both specificity and brevity, with a four-dimensional model using 133 items from the original NVLA.

Mindfulness-based SEL programming to increase preservice teachers’ mindfulness and emotional competence


Eighty-seven preservice teachers, some of whom had preschool teaching experience, were randomly assigned to an intervention that included training in breathing awareness meditation infused with social-emotional learning (n = 43) or a control group that received training in (n = 44) in breathing awareness meditation only. Both groups showed an increase in mindfulness from pre- to posttest. However, as expected, dimensions of emotional competence improved more significantly for preservice teachers in the intervention group. Increases were also greater for participants with teaching experience. Both groups also increased in the belief that classroom misbehavior would result in negative cognitive and social costs to children, but a larger increase was observed for the intervention group. Implications for teacher preparation are discussed.

A cross-cultural study testing the universality of basic psychological needs theory across different academic subjects


Basic Psychological Needs Theory (BPNT) suggests that autonomy-supportive teachers can promote the satisfaction of students’ three basic psychological needs (i.e., the need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness) and this is essential for optimal functioning and personal well-being. The role of need satisfaction as a determinant of well-being is understood to be invariant across contexts and cultures. The aim of this study is to test the invariance in the relationships between students’ perceptions of their teachers’ autonomy support and their psychological need satisfaction, enjoyment, concentration, and boredom across different school subjects (math, English, and physical education lessons) and across different cultures (England and Turkey). Questionnaires tapping the targeted variables in the three different lesson types were completed by students in schools in England and Turkey. Results from multilevel modeling analyses showed some support for the tenets of BPNT, albeit there were inconsistences among the strengths of the hypothesized relationships based on country and/or lesson type.

The influence of test-based accountability policies on early elementary teachers: School climate, environmental stress, and teacher stress


This study examined the potential influence of test-based accountability policies on school environment and teacher stress among early elementary teachers. Structural equation modeling of data from 541 kindergarten through second grade teachers across three states found that use of student performance on high-stakes tests to evaluate teachers indirectly was related to teachers’ professional investment via test stress in the environment. Although students in kindergarten through second grade do not take high-stakes assessments, early elementary teachers reported high levels of stress associated with test-based accountability policies. This study provides data across multiple states that test-based accountability policies may have negative influences on school environment and teacher stress among early elementary teachers. Implications for practice and research are discussed.

Common misconceptions of suspension: Ideas and alternatives for school leaders


The use of exclusionary discipline practices in schools has been well documented since the 1970s with the passing of the Safe Schools Act and implementation of zero-tolerance policies. Despite research indicating the ineffectiveness of exclusionary practices, students continue to receive suspensions and expulsions at alarming rates. Additional research highlights that there may be misconceptions regarding the application of suspensions and their perceived functions and effectiveness on students and their families. The purpose of this article is to discuss common misconceptions regarding the effects of suspension and provide teachers, school psychologists, and administrators with proactive strategies for implementation in local systems to create positive school climates and optimize successful outcomes for all students and staff.

Issue Information


The impact of English language learner status on screening for emotional and behavioral disorders: A differential item functioning (DIF) study


There have been significant changes in the racial/ethnic and linguistic background of students attending public schools in the United States. The number of public-school students who are English language learners (ELLs) participating in programs of language assistance has more than doubled over the past two decades. In 1993–1994, 5.1% of public-school students in the United States were ELLs, or an estimated 2.1 million students. As of 2014–2015, 9.4% of students were ELLs, or an estimated 4.6 million students. It is estimated that by 2030, upward of 40% of school children will speak English as a second language. Meeting the needs of students who are not proficient in English is challenging for school professionals and even more so if they are identified for special services. Researchers have found that ELL students live in situations with numerous high-risk factors, including poverty, inadequate schools, poor and violent neighborhoods, and limited access to adequate health care, mental health services, and schools. As a group, these students are more likely to underperform academically, have a lower grade point average, and drop out of school compared to non-ELL Latino students.

The effects of traumatic experiences on academic relationships and expectations in justice-involved children


Positive school experiences are an important predictor of long-term health and well-being. Developing positive relationships with school personnel and positive academic expectations set the foundation for success. Positive relationships and expectations can be a powerful protective factor or intervention to redirect troubled children toward a more positive path. Unfortunately, children who experience trauma are more prone to academic underachievement and negative school experiences. This link is especially evident and troubling for children—also called justice-involved children (JIC)—in the juvenile justice system. JIC are exposed to more traumatic experiences and have a higher prevalence of academic failure than other children. Despite evidence showing that (1) trauma is harmful to achievement in the general population, (2) JIC have a higher prevalence of trauma, and (3) JIC have a higher prevalence of academic underachievement and failure, only a few studies have examined traumatic experiences and achievement in JIC. The Childhood Trauma Model (CTM) submits that childhood trauma is central to understanding adolescent outcomes. CTM hypothesizes that (H-1) JIC who experience trauma will have more academic risk factors than those who do not, and (H-2) JIC who experience multiple types of trauma will have higher academic risks than those who experience a single type of trauma. The current study tests (1) whether 10 different types of traumatic experiences are individually associated with increased risks for fewer positive adult relationships and lower expectations of graduating from high school among JIC, and (2) whether experiencing multiple types of trauma has a larger impact than experiencing a single type of trauma.

Addressing trauma in schools: Multitiered service delivery options for practitioners


Hundreds of thousands of children are confronted with traumatic experiences each year in the United States. As trauma-informed care begins to take hold in schools, school mental health providers (e.g., school psychologists, counselors, and social workers) desire concrete service-delivery options for students affected by trauma. This article provides examples from the literature via a narrative review of assessment, intervention, and practitioner support options related to childhood trauma. Specific attention is paid to framing concrete school-based trauma service-delivery options within a multitiered systems of support model to align with existing school practices. Given the large amount of literature on this topic, this article aims to reduce the barriers practitioners face when looking to implement trauma services in their schools by organizing example practices from the literature in a commonly used service-delivery framework.

Professional development to increase teacher behavior-specific praise: A single-case design replication


Effective classroom instruction is contingent upon successful classroom management. Unfortunately, not all teachers successfully manage classroom behavior and need in-service professional development. In this study, we replicated a targeted professional development approach that included a brief one-on-one training session and emailed visual performance feedback to increase novice teachers’ use of behavior-specific praise, an evidence-based classroom management skill. Dependent variables collected through direct observation included teachers’ behavior-specific praise along with average student engagement and disruptions. Four elementary teachers participated and, based on a multiple-baseline single-case design, we found a functional relationship between the targeted professional development and teachers’ increased use of behavior-specific praise. However, because of variability and one teacher's limited response, effect sizes were small for behavior-specific praise and little change was observed in student behaviors. These findings warrant further research to determine which classroom management skills affect student behaviors overall, as well as continued evaluation of this professional development model and using school-based coaches.

Promoting teachers’ implementation of culturally and contextually relevant class-wide behavior plans


Disproportionality in disciplinary actions for certain racial groups has been well documented for several decades. In an effort to support all students, specifically those who are culturally and linguistically diverse, many have called for adopting a multitiered system of support framework that is considerate of student culture and school context. This framework applies to supporting students’ learning and behavior across settings, particularly in the classroom. To bridge existing gaps between theory and practice, this empirical study sought to evaluate whether teachers who self-assessed their own use of culturally and contextually relevant practices would implement a class-wide behavior plan with high levels of implementation fidelity. Results indicated that teachers who engaged in self-assessment and training did implement the plan with high levels of implementation fidelity, particularly when given performance feedback. Additionally, students tended to display slightly higher rates of academic engagement upon consistent implementation of the plan.

Addressing escape-maintained behavior for students with developmental disabilities: A systematic review of school-based interventions


Students with developmental disabilities have been found to exhibit higher rates of problem behavior in the classroom than their typically developing peers. Effectively addressing these students’ behavior concerns requires the identification of interventions that can be implemented in an educational setting. Furthermore, matching intervention strategies to the function of a student's problem behavior may increase its effectiveness. There are data to suggest that students with disabilities exhibit escape-maintained problem behavior in the classroom twice as frequently as problem behavior maintained by other consequences such as attention or access to tangibles. Thus, the purpose of this systematic review was to identify school-based intervention strategies that have been used to reduce the disruptive behavior of students with developmental disabilities. In total, 12 articles met search criteria, with escape extinction, curricular modification, and noncontingent escape serving as the most frequently employed intervention strategies. Limitations and future directions are discussed.

Self-management as a class-wide intervention: An evaluation of the “Self & Match” system embedded within a dependent group contingency


Teachers are responsible for providing an education to students of all ability levels. Recent data suggest that roughly 95% of students with a disability are receiving some form of education in their general education setting. Individuals with disabilities tend to engage in higher levels of disruptive behaviors (e.g., talking out in class, noncompliance, throwing materials) than peers without disabilities. With an increase in the number of students with disabilities receiving some form of education in their general education setting, teachers may be spending more time managing disruptive behaviors and less time teaching. Research suggests a strong relationship between classroom-management techniques and academic achievement. These data highlight the importance of classroom-management interventions that promote the learning of all students in the classroom. Despite the importance of classroom-management techniques, a lack of training, as well as the feasibility of the interventions may prevent the ultimate adoption and long-term success of effective techniques. Self-management is a potential solution, as self-management techniques can be easily trained and implemented.

Use of superheroes social skills with middle school-age students with autism spectrum disorder


The current study evaluated use of the Superheroes Social Skills program as a means of increasing social skill accuracy in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Participants included four Caucasian male students that were eligible for special education services within the autism category. Social skills training was presented twice weekly for 9 weeks. The results demonstrated that implementation of the intervention improved social skill accuracy within the training setting as indicated by visual analysis and nonoverlap of all pairs. Additionally, improvements in social skill accuracy during probes conducted within the classroom with typically developing peers was observed. Despite improvements in social skill accuracy in both settings, sociometric status of participants demonstrated little change from baseline to postintervention.