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The Future of the Journal of School Psychology

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School psychology research and practice has considerable room for growth to go beyond "did an intervention work?" to "what intervention worked for whom and how did it work?" The latter question reflects a more precise understanding of intervention, and involves strategic efforts to enhance the precision of services students with academic, behavioral, emotional, or physical health problems receive to enhance the degree to which interventions are appropriately tailored to and produce benefit for individual students. The purpose of this special issue is to advance the notion and science of precision education, which is defined as an approach to research and practice that is concerned with tailoring preventive and intervention practices to individuals based on the best available evidence. This introductory article provides context for the special issue by discussing reasons why precision education is needed, providing definitions/descriptions of precision education research, and outlining opportunities to advance the science of precision education. Six empirical studies and one methodological-oriented article were compiled to provide examples of the breadth of research that falls under precision education. Although each of the article focuses on students with different needs (literacy deficits, math deficits, emotional and behavior problems, and intellectual disability), there is a common thread that binds them together, and that is each one captures the heterogeneity among students with particular problems or deficits and highlights the need to select and deliver more precise interventions to optimize student outcomes.
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The current study represents the first psychometric evaluation of an American English into German translation of a school-based universal screening measure designed to assess academic and disruptive behavior problems. This initial study examines the factor structure and diagnostic accuracy of the newly translated measure in a large sample of 1009 German schoolchildren attending grades 1-6 in Western Germany. Confirmatory factor analysis supported a two-factor model for both male- and female- students. Configural invariance was supported between male- and female-samples. However scalar invariance was not supported, with higher thresholds for ratings of female students. Results of receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analyses were indicative of good to excellent diagnostic accuracy with areas under the curve ranging from 0.89 to 0.93. Optimal cut-off scores were 10, 5, and 13 for the Academic Productivity/Disorganization, Oppositional/Disruptive, and the Total Problems Composite scores of the Integrated System Teacher Rating Form respectively. This initial study of the newly translated measure supports further investigations into its utility for universal screening in German speaking schools.
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There is currently a large gap in both research and practice between student identification practices for those at-risk (i.e., universal screening, teacher referral, or extant data as early identification methods) and the selection of appropriate Tier 2 interventions for social, emotional, and behavioral concerns. The purpose of this study was to develop and test the treatment validity of the Student Intervention Matching (SIM) Form, an intervention matching protocol designed for use at Tier 2. To this end, single-case design methodology was employed to systematically evaluate outcomes associated with use of the SIM Form in the intervention selection process. Participants included eight elementary-age students arranged in sets of four student dyads. A multiple baseline design was used in order to examine the relative effectiveness of matched interventions according to the SIM Form, and mismatched interventions according to the SIM Form. Results indicated that interventions matched using the SIM Form were functionally related to improved student outcomes across a variety of dependent variables when compared to mismatched phases. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.
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With the growing adoption and implementation of multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) in school settings, there is increasing need for rigorous evaluations of adaptive-sequential interventions. That is, MTSS specify universal, selected, and indicated interventions to be delivered at each tier of support, yet few investigations have empirically examined the continuum of supports that are provided to students both within and across tiers. This need is compounded by a variety of prevention approaches that have been developed with distinct theoretical foundations (e.g., Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, Social-Emotional Learning) that are available within and across tiers. As evidence-based interventions continue to flourish, school-based practitioners greatly need evaluations regarding optimal treatment sequencing. To this end, we describe adaptive treatment strategies as a natural fit within the MTSS framework. Specifically, sequential multiple assignment randomized trials (SMART) offer a promising empirical approach to rigorously develop and compare adaptive treatment regimens within this framework.
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This study compared consequence-and antecedent-based strategies to determine which treatments or combination of treatments produced the strongest improvements in math computation fluency with four elementary-aged students whose math computation was under the control of an escape contingency. Functional analyses were conducted to identify elementary-school students whose academic responding was under a negative-reinforcement contingency. A multielement design was then used to examine the impact of four treatments (DNRA, DRA, task choice, and task choice plus DRA) on each student's rate of correct digits per min. All four treatments increased rate of responding. Differentiated results were obtained for all participants, indicating a reliable effect. Yet, participants responded differently to the treatments, illustrating the need to investigate and adapt interventions for escape-motivated behavior on a case-by-case basis. Results are also discussed in terms of the effectiveness of choice relative to reinforcement procedures, whether there were additional benefits to combining treatments, and which type of reinforcement procedures (DRA or DNRA) appears to be more effective for students whose behavior is under the control of an escape contingency.
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Accumulating evidence suggests that assessment-informed personalized instruction, tailored to students' individual skills and abilities, is more effective than more one-size-fits-all approaches. In this study, we evaluate the efficacy of Individualizing Student Instruction in Mathematics (ISI-Math) compared to Reading (ISI-Reading) where classrooms were randomly assigned to ISI-Math or ISI-Reading. The literature on child characteristics X instruction or skill X treatment interaction effects point to the complexities of tailoring instruction for individual students who present with constellations of skills. Second graders received mathematics instruction in small flexible learning groups based on their assessed learning needs. Results of the study (n = 32 teachers, 370 students) revealed significant treatment effects on standardized mathematics assessments. With effect sizes (d) of 0.41–0.60, we show that we can significantly improve 2nd graders' mathematics achievement, including for children living in poverty, by using assessment data to individualize the mathematics instruction they receive. The instructional regime, ISI-Math, was implemented by regular classroom teachers and it led to about a 4-month achievement advantage on standardized mathematics tests when compared to students in control classrooms. These results were realized within one school year. Moreover, treatment effects were the same regardless of school-level poverty and students' gender, initial mathematics or vocabulary scores.