Delegates serve as a connection between NASP and school psychologists practicing in diverse roles in their states. Delegates promote NASP’s professional positions and priority goals at the state level and utilize their understanding of state issues to guide NASP’s strategic direction.
Idaho State NASP Delegate: Teresa Fritsch
Dear ISPA Members:
Below is a summary of a report I sent to NASP to indicate where our state is currently on NASP’s five strategic goals. Each section contains information on what we have been doing over the past several months, the challenges of each goal, and what our goals are to improve in each area. I welcome any information your region and/or district may be doing in any of these areas that I am not aware of.
Shortages - Idaho School Psychologist Association (ISPA) members and school psychologists across the stated presented the NASP Exposure Project PowerPoints to our local colleges/universities, high schools, and school boards across the state during SPAW and throughout the year. With the help of the State Special Education Director we were able to send out a survey in the fall of 2019 to all of the Sp. Ed. Directors across the stated to answer questions regarding school psychologists. 97 LEAs responded and reported 17 unfilled school psychologists’ positions. There was no response from the vice president of a local university to our request for an audience to discuss the possibility of starting a new school psych program in our state. Our state organization changed gears and are now focusing our efforts on the one university in our state that does have a school psychology program to see how we can collaborate and build enrollment there. Our state organization, with the help of the DOE, sent two ISPA members to NASP and set up a booth to recruit grad students to Idaho for internships and jobs.
Our rural districts are suffering the most from the shortages and not many people know about Idaho or have a negative perception. Building relationships with the only graduate program in the state so we can support and build on the program for better retention of graduates to Idaho.
Use the survey information to talk to more school boards, legislatures, parents, and other stakeholders to increase knowledge of the value of school psychologists. The ISPA Board is looking to invite the professors from the graduate program to be a part of our board. Historically, we have only had graduate students be a part of the board. Several school psychologists from across the state are on a school psychologist task force that is focusing on a “training the trainer” kind of model by offering classes/webinars to provide support to school psychologists who take on an intern (supervise) as well as those who mentor new or new-to-the-state school psychologists (mentors). We hope that this will help retain early career school psychologists to our state.
Behavior and Mental Health - The State Superintendent is starting a Social-Emotional-Learning (SEL) initiative and our state organization members are volunteering to be a part of the discussion Unfortunately, two anti-transgender legislation bills passed in Idaho, even with numerous letters written and sent to our governor and legislatures. A press conference with the ACLU of Idaho and other organizations, including myself, to voice the harm that these two bills would cause to our transgender students’ mental and emotional well-being due to their discriminatory nature. Both bills are currently in litigation to try and overturn them.
School psychologists are often looked at as psychometricians in our state. We are constantly sharing with principals, supervisors, superintendents, board members, etc. that we are so much more and are trained to do so much more. Due to the significant shortages of school psychologists, however, we are often only able to complete assessments rather than providing mental health services.
There is currently a school psychologists’ task force to address mental health issues in our state. This task force is also hoping to broaden stakeholder’s minds on what school psychologists are trained to do.
The Practice Model - The practice model is used by some districts across the state as part of the school psychologists’ evaluations. Several school psychologists from across the state are collaborating with the SESTA to develop webinars to train school psychologists across the state on various topics based on a needs’ assessment. With the NASP Practice Model in mind, we hope to build confidence and knowledge in other school psychologists based on needs.
School psychologists are often looked at as psychometricians in our state. We are constantly sharing with principals, supervisors, superintendents, board members, etc. that we are so much more and are trained to do so much more. Due to the significant shortages of school psychologists, however, we are often only able to complete assessments rather than providing mental health services. Due to COVID-19, the trainings/webinars were put on hold.
The ISPA organization is currently making progress towards updating many aspects of our entire association. We have made significant changes and updates to our website, including connecting ISPA more with NASP resources. ISPA had its first summer retreat in July 2020 to become trained by a NASP Assistance to State trainer on how to update our strategic plan. The ISPA Board developed a draft that is more aligned with NASP Standards and Strategic Plan and will be presented to members in the fall.
Leadership Approximately 95 school psychologists attended our fall annual conference in October. This is consistent with years past. The state association is currently changing our regions across the state to hopefully capture more rural districts. By doing this, we will open new leadership position opportunities. Our ISPA website had been updated and we are now expanding our value to our members by providing resources and connections across the state. We are in the process of updating our board positions and building our committees to include more people in leadership positions from across the state.
Even with a good turnout for our annual conference, there are still pockets within our state that do not attend the conferences on a regular basis. The Treasure Valley is always well represented. There has consistently been one region (central Idaho) that struggles to get a regional representative.
ISPA Presidents (current, past, elect) are working hard to build membership, resources, and continuity within the board. The past president created a Presidents’ Cubed group this year, which includes all the presidents and the NASP Delegate to create continuity and follow through for the organization. We are also increasing committees on the board to encourage members to take leadership positions. One of the goals for the retreat this summer (mentioned above) was to receive training from NASP ATS and GPR leaders to assist ISPA in building our organization’s leadership. More diversity is needed on our board. We do have a good representation of a variety of school districts – urban, rural, charter, and contracted school psychologists – but right now we are very limited in our gender and racial diversity. The board is working on updating the ISPA strategic plan to include social justice as well as refocus our attention on our vision and mission as an organization.
Social Justice - Since we are a long state geographically, some folks are unable to travel the long distance to our annual conference. This year (2020), we are working with WA, OR, AK, and HI to have a virtual fall conference. Hopefully, this will open some doors to our trainings in the areas of social justice.
Hopefully, with the upgrade to our website and the training to occur in collaboration with the SDE and SESTA, we can provide more training to school psychologists across the state on Social Justice.
At our retreat this summer, we are planning on adding a social justice strategic goal.
Please send me any updated information regarding these strategic goals from your region or district.
Take care and stay safe!
Teresa Stivers Fritsch, Psy.S., NCSP
School Psychologist-Idaho NASP Delegate