NASP 2024 Convention Takeaways

March 1, 2024By: Kylie Miller

Each year The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) holds a conference that brings together practitioners from all over the country to enhance knowledge through interactive sessions, presentations, and networking opportunities. As a school psychologist, clinical manager, and advocate for virtual service delivery, I look forward to this conference every year. This year the conference was held in New Orleans, Louisiana from February 14th – 17th, only one day after the infamous “Fat Tuesday” celebration! My colleague Dr. Kathryn Steele and I not only attended the conference, but we also presented twice, supported the VocoVision booth in the exhibition hall, and made numerous connections with practitioners! I am excited to share with you all the meaningful and engaging new content we learned this year.

The Digital Adaptation of the Woodcock-Johnson IV

In the weeks leading up to the conference, Dr. Steele and I were on the edge of our seats in anticipation of the very first demos of the new digital adaptation of the Woodcock-Johnson IV (WJ IV)! The clinical team at VocoVision prioritizes access to digital materials so this is an exciting new development for our team and the virtual psychologist community as a whole. Dr. Steele and I attended a demonstration of the new platform at NASP, and we were impressed, to say the least.

The new version is incredibly user-friendly, easy to access, and offers a more automated version of the traditional assessments. Digital access removes some of the logistical barriers of administration, consequently freeing up time for examiners to make behavioral observations. Some of the exciting new features include:

  • Automated basal and ceilings
  • Reduction in the number of physical materials needed for assessments
  • Examiner control over the examinee’s screen

The new automation offers far-reaching benefits including less user error, thus increasing the validity and reliability of the measures. Moreover, these developments open the door to more remote accessibility to cognitive and achievement measures. Riverside is set to release the new WJ IV in 2025 and as usual, our clinical team will keep you in the loop as we learn more! In the meantime, you can find more here.

Clinical Team Presentations

Dr. Steele and I had the privilege of contributing to the conference this year through the exhibition of our research. Our first presentation, Responsible Technology Use to Support Positive Social–Emotional Outcomes was a mini-skills session that focused on the outcomes of internet use on the social-emotional development of school-age children, defining digital citizenship in relation to this demographic, and applying safe cyber strategies. Our second presentation, A Brief Review: The State of Virtual School Psychology, aimed to provide deeper insights into the regional growth of telepractice over the past decade. We used internal and interview data to review the broad reach of telepractice and to examine the characteristics of school districts utilizing these services. You can find a link to our poster here.

Dr. Steele and I are always excited to share our specialized knowledge with the broader educational community and we would love to come present to your school district or organization. You can reach us at [email protected]!

Addressing the School Psychology Shortage

It is common knowledge that there are significant school psychology vacancies impacting school districts across the nation. This unfortunate reality was reflected in the session list at NASP this year, with multiple sessions aimed at addressing scarcity. There are many angles to take when approaching the discussion of vacancies, but both sessions we attended focused on factors contributing to retention.

The overarching theme is one where school psychologists are primarily concerned with psych-to-student ratios, salary, and flexibility. These factors appear to carry a heavy weight when school psychologists are considering remaining in their current positions and conversely when seeking out new employment. Consequently, large caseloads, low salaries, and lack of flexibility generate movement toward contract work in place of full-time district employment. Contract work offers a more competitive salary, flexibility, and more control over caseload size. The research implications are widespread and may impact district hiring practices moving forward. Please reach out to Dr. James Deni of Appalachian State University regarding these findings or for more information.

Final Thoughts

I kicked off my week at NASP by attending a distinguished lecture, with Professor Jose Castillo of the University of South Florida. I left Dr. Castillo’s lecture with a renewed sense of purpose which helped set the tone for the rest of the convention and I want to leave you with that message today. Dr. Castillo used the context of MTSS to remind us that we often get so caught up in data and processes that we forget to center the student in the conversation.

Yes, MTSS works, but for it to work effectively, we need to take a hard look at ourselves and the role we play in the process. When we learn to center all students and stop blaming each other for the problems we encounter, we can begin to make system-level changes. It is important to remember that as school psychologists, we are uniquely positioned in a place where we can reach educational leaders, families, and communities. We are capable of instituting transformational change!

As always, we love to hear from you! Please reach out to us with any questions or comments at [email protected]. We can’t wait to see you all next year at NASP 2025 in Seattle, Washington!

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