Term of Award

Fall 2010

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Cordelia Zinskie

Committee Member 1

Terri Diamanduros

Committee Member 2

James Dothard

Committee Member 3

John Weaver

Abstract

Throughout the 1980's and onward, professional commentary, editorials and models have been put forward to expand roles for school psychologists beyond assessment and special education. The harbinger has been to move away from traditional roles towards including all students in prevention, mental health and regular education initiatives. Recent legislation passed including NCLB, 2001 and IDEA, 2004 for schools across the country represented a major change for the directions of public school curriculum to include scientific based research instruction, more accountability and increased assessment at each grade level. This study was conducted in light of the historical context, these recent legislative changes and changes within Georgia's curriculum structure with standards based instruction and the implementation of the pyramid of interventions. The research conducted investigated changes in the roles and practice of school psychologists in Georgia and the perceptions of changes in the field using mixed methods inquiry through survey and interview data collected. Participants in the survey included 444 school psychologists from the membership of the Georgia Association of School Psychologists. There were also 15 interview volunteers from small, medium and large school systems included in the research. The survey data collected were compared with the results of Kimball's (1998) study to examine any changes in the roles and practices of school psychologists in Georgia over the last 12 years. While a rank order comparison of role involvement reflected similar findings to Kimball's research, there were implications of role change with statistically significant differences obtained in four of the five role areas measured. Additionally, reported percentages of involvement also noted changes in the roles for school psychologists in Georgia. Interview information helped contextualize the degree of changes in roles and the difficulties encountered in the transformative process. Results noted agreement on the decrease in assessment for school psychologists in the field, feelings of uncertainty for the role changes and perceptions that RtI was helping students in the regular education setting. Barriers and empowerments to change for school psychologists were also reported.

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