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What Our Readers Have to Say

Clarifying School Psychologist Roles 

The article “Training for Tragedy: Critical Challenges for School Psychologists” (February 2013) correctly points to the importance of psychologists in supporting the mental health needs of children and youth in times of tragedy. School psychologists are vital members of district crisis teams and providers of mental health services in schools year-round. However, here is some clarification.

1. The prediction that 50 percent of school psychologists are expected to retire in 2015 is more than a decade old. More recent data (Castillo et al., 2013) indicate that 20 percent of school psychologists are projected to retire by 2015 (including fulltime practitioners and university faculty). Moreover, the number of school psychologists entering the field (approximately 2,500 per year) exceeds those leaving, and the profession is estimated to grow by 1 to 2 percent by 2015. 

2. The National Association of School Psychologists recommends a ratio of one school psychologist for every 500-700 students. 

3. To imply that school psychologists are too busy to “keep up with developments in the field” is inaccurate. Most school psychologists engage with local, state, and national professional associations to keep up with research and best practices, and most must continue professional development to maintain their license or certification. 

Eric Rossen Director,Professional Development and Standards National Association of School Psychologists

Homework Help for Engagement

I have a different perspective on the cover story “Homework or Not? That is the (Research) Question” in the March 2013 issue. I have seen the change in student attentiveness and creativity over 40 years and have used homework to determine the effectiveness of my instruction.In 1982, a student of mine shed some light as to why students had become less engaged in learning than the students of the 1970s. She said her mother would simply help her with homework if she had any trouble with it. It held the answer as to why my students were struggling with concentrating during instruction.

As part of neuroscience, the brain decides what to focus on or block out. It has to filter [certain] stimuli out to keep us sane. When she became lost and felt stupid in class, instead of asking a question, she mentally checked out, where she wouldn’t feel the pain of not knowing what was going on. She had no reason to continue focusing. Her mother would give her one-on-one instruction at home. Thus, she had no motivation to stay focused.

In the 1980s, the media caused parents to question the effectiveness of instruction, aides were added to classrooms, and students had someone to rely on when they didn’t know an answer. It is easy to understand from a neuroscience perspective why students stressed out so much when given tests.

The program I have developed supports students as they learn strategies for solving challenges in the context of homework, so they have strategies they can apply during testing, or with any life challenge.

Victoria Olivadoti Founder The Homework Doctor

Librarians as Sources of Knowledge

In response to a news story “Evaluating Sources in a Wikipedia World” (March 2013), which explained a Pew Research Center study that found students rely heavily on sources with questionable academic quality and value immediacy over quality: 

So it took “secondary and higher education instructors” evaluating “300 of the most popular sources used by students” to come up with this rubric? They could have saved themselves time and effort if they had just asked their local librarian. 

Librarians have been teaching students at every level how to evaluate all kinds of information, including websites, for decades under guiding principles known as Information Literacy. A search of the library literature brings up published, peer reviewed rubrics for evaluating websites and other electronic information, and a Google search on “web evaluation rubric” brings up almost 1.3 million results. 

Caroline Bordinaro Reference librarian California State University at Dominguez Hills

Offended Over Perceived Job

In response to an industry news story that ran in DA Daily in early March, “New Study Finds 21 States Have More ‘Non- Teaching Staff’ than Teachers”: 

We should be outraged at this study and the ignorance of many who have no idea what it really takes to fully operate and fund a complex and professional education environment. I find it extremely offensive that librarians are described as non-teaching personnel. 

Our district, and many more, employs teacher-librarians who teach digital and online safety skills. Librarians teach informational search skills. Librarians teach professional development skills. Librarians teach readers advisory skills. If the authors wantmore classroom teachers, they must find a way to increase the budget item that addresses teacher salaries without blaming or taking away from the other essential school employees, educators, and leaders.

Doug Abend Teacher-librarian and Technology Director Rich Hill (Mo.) School District 

More Principal Training

After reading “Principal Pipelines” in the February 2013 issue, I thought you may want to contact two individuals who train principals. Joe Werlinich and Otto Graf are retired professors from the University of Pittsburgh and former administrators in the public school system. Werlinich and Graf founded the Western Pennsylvania Principals Academy, which is designed to improve the lives of students through strong and courageous instructional leaders.

This program develops young administrators and provides resources and instruction in leadership, instruction, community partnerships, and public relations. They also teach individuals how to handle confidential information and still be transparent with the community.

Scott Seltzer Assistant Superintendent for School Leadership Chartiers Valley (Pa.) School District