EVALUATION PLANNING AND SPECIAL SERVICE ELIGIBILITY DECISIONS OF SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS: DIFFERENCES BY CHRONIC HEALTH CONDITION AND IMPAIRMENT SEVERITY
Counseling, Psychology, & Special Education
School of Education
Ara J. Schmitt
Kara E. McGoey
evaluation planning, psychoeducational evaluations, school neuropsychology, pediatric chronic illnesses, epilepsy, sickle cell disease, decision-making, school psychology
School psychologists are expert practitioners who are well-versed in conducting comprehensive psychoeducational evaluations to address a wide range of students’ needs in schools. The increasing prevalence of pediatric chronic illnesses (CIs) and the presence of students with CIs attending school requires school psychologists to be knowledgeable of the educational and social-emotional impacts of CIs on students’ functioning. Moreover, organizations such as the American Psychological Association (APA) and National Association for School Psychologists (NASP) encourage school psychologists to demonstrate competency in understanding the influence of CIs on students’ function in the classroom (APA, 1998; Schmitt et al., 2019). Comprehensive psychoeducational evaluations are necessary for students with CIs who demonstrate adverse educational impacts. Specifically, these students should be considered for special service eligibility under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) category of Other Health Impairment (OHI). It is not presently known whether school psychologists understanding of CIs influences their decision-making in either planning psychoeducational evaluations or recommending special services afterward. This study presented school psychologists with a standardized case and asked them to both (1) develop a generic evaluation plan and (2) determine whether the case would meet eligibility for special services. Standardized cases included students with varying degrees of impairment severity (either moderate or severe impairment) and one of two CIs commonly encountered in school-aged children (either epilepsy or sickle cell disease). Non-meaningful differences were present in the evaluation plans provided by the respondents in this study, as participants only offered 1-2 domains of functioning in their proposed evaluation plans. Also, most participants recommended formal special services under IDEA, specifically under the eligibility category of OHI. Differences existed in the rationale behind why school psychologists included certain domains of functioning in their evaluation plans and for their special service eligibility decisions, with Specific Learning Disability (SLD) being the second most frequently recommended category. Because each of the standardized cases was designed to meet eligibility criteria for OHI, respondents’ decision to not recommend OHI is a potential area for future exploration. Differences in participant responses warrant further investigation into the various factors resulting in their decision-making process.
Benno, M. (2023). EVALUATION PLANNING AND SPECIAL SERVICE ELIGIBILITY DECISIONS OF SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS: DIFFERENCES BY CHRONIC HEALTH CONDITION AND IMPAIRMENT SEVERITY (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/2134