How School Psychologists Consider and Accommodate for Factors Thought to Influence Children’s Performance
Type of Degreedissertation
Rehabilitation and Special Education
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School psychologists’ professional responsibilities include administration and interpretation of a great many psychological and educational tests for numerous purposes. These tests are most frequently used to assess students and determine strengths and weaknesses which affect school performance. Test results are then used in preparing comprehensive evaluations which are in turn considered by Individual Education Planning (IEP) Teams when determining eligibility for Special Education Services and recommended educational interventions. Examiner manuals for tests almost always include child factors such as illness, fatigue, or lack of cooperation that might affect or even invalidate the results. A review of 23 test manuals was conducted and the factors mentioned were used to develop a survey of 220 school psychologists in a nationwide sample. Informants reported on the frequency of their observations of child factors, their views of the importance of the factors, and the actions they have taken when they have encountered a factor that might affect the testing situation and the child’s performance. Among the main results were statistically significant positive correlations between beliefs regarding the importance of child factors and the school psychologist’s frequency of observing or taking actions over the previous 12 months when child factors such as fatigue, inattention, rapport, refusal and sleepiness were present in the examinees. Findings also suggested that pressures felt by school psychologists regarding the need to continue testing in spite of the presence of child factors were positively correlated with examinee anxiety, fatigue, fear, hunger/thirst, inattention, motivation, shyness, sleepiness and temporary illness in terms of the observation of or actions taken by school psychologists over the previous 12 months of testing. Several child factors not currently mentioned in commonly used test manuals but are believed by the school psychologists to be important to the outcome validity of the instruments were identified and data revealed that school psychologists feel that sleep is very important to the validity of their test results in spite of this child factor rarely being mentioned in test examiner’s manuals.