3 Things We Learned at NASP

February 28, 2023By: Kylie Miller

The National Association of School Psychology (NASP) holds a conference each year that brings together psychologists and related specialists from all over the country. This year’s NASP conference was held in a convention center nestled between the snow-capped mountains of Denver, Colorado.  VocoVision had a booth in the exhibition hall, that was accompanied by the enthusiastic VocoVision team, including the three psychologists on our clinical team.

The theme for this year’s conference was radical hope and authentic healing. The conference events centered around concepts associated with intersectionality, culturally responsive/strength-based services, social justice, and advocacy. The specialized sessions available to conferencegoers ranged from how to work alongside indigenous youth to developing inclusivity for LGBTQ Youth of Color and everything in between. While there was an infinite number of takeaways from this year’s conference, in this article, I will highlight the top 3 and encourage you to attend next year’s conference in New Orleans, Louisiana!

Advocate as if education depends on it.

The advocacy theme was woven into many of the special sessions throughout the week. A session sponsored by the Government and Professional Relations Committee for NASP led a conversation around professional advocacy and legal updates. The primary focus of the Government and Professional Relations Committee is to bring awareness to and provide information about critical policy issues on a local, state, and national level as they relate to the field of school psychology.

The committee emphasized the role of school psychologists as not only psychometrists working within our schools but as educational advocates. If you are wondering how to get involved in your state, I encourage you to check out the Proposed Bills page on the NASP website. This tracker identifies what bills have been flagged in your state and offers information on how to get involved in your local and statewide associations.  

Part of the job

When we weren’t recording fun TikToks and team building, the Voco team was engaged in meaningful conversations with the attendees at NASP. A conversation that came up time and time again was the prevalence of burnout in post-pandemic education. Kathryn Steele, a school psychologist and member of our Voco clinical team, and I attended a special session that attempted to explain how “emotional labor” contributes to burnout amongst school psychologists.

This session illuminated the cognitive dissonance between how we feel versus how we are supposed to act. There are specific “display rules” or displays of emotion that school psychologists are expected to demonstrate and these display rules are often at odds with our internal dialogue (think contentious IEP meeting or responding to a severe behavior). The consequences of this are often increased stress, exhaustion, and depersonalization a.k.a. burnout.

So, what do we do about it? The speakers hypothesized that more training and awareness on the implications of emotional labor in our field might lead to lower rates of burnout. The speakers offered several ideas including building emotional labor and coping strategies into our graduate programs in School Psychology. If you are thinking about what PD to do at your school site, this could be your answer!

Riverside is not done innovating

VocoVision received a special invitation to a fireside chat with Riverside, the publishers of the legendary Woodcock-Johnson tests. Woodcock-Johnson has been at the forefront of innovation in the field of psychometry since long before I was born, and it appears that Riverside wants to carry on that legacy. A panel of incredibly well-spoken and qualified speakers offered insight into the future of digital assessment, and they did not forget to give the nod to some of the advancements that Mr. Woodcock has already gifted us.

For example, did you know that Mr. Woodcock is responsible for the development of the Relative Proficiency Index (RPI), I did not! While there is a lot to be said about the fireside chat, what stood out to me were the new possibilities for measures that will be captured via digital assessment. Not only we will no longer need to identify and calculate basal’s, ceilings, and raw scores, but we will now be able to remove the element of examiner error altogether. Moreover, the digital assessment will be able to capture student participation down to the millisecond and offer insight into neuropsychological systems like executive functioning skills. Finally, the panel envisions a future of hybrid learning and more referral-specific measures that can factor in concepts such as self-belief/self-motivation and aptitude. Be on the lookout for new digital updates from Riverside soon!

As the field of school psychology continues to grow, it is important to remain up to date with advancements in the field. The annual conference is a great way to stay in the know, network, see a new city, and build on your professional interests! Come say hello to VocoVision at NASP 2024 in New Orleans, Louisiana!

Related Articles