Learning and Instruction

School psychologists must understand core features of effective instruction and how children learn to appropriately identify and implement assessments, support educators and families as they promote learning, and implement interventions to improve student learning. To accomplish this complex set of tasks, several theories guide the assessment, consultation, and intervention process. Infonnation processing theories explain how students process infonnation in their environment, cognitive load theory takes into account features of working memory and long-term memory to facilitate learning, and overlapping waves theory takes into account the many strategies children use to think about and solve problems. In addition, direct instruction and explicit instruction reflect paradigms and theories that are used to define a set of core instructional features to effectively promote learning (Carlson et al., Chapter 9, this volume). These theories and models are useful, yet the reach and effectiveness of any approach may be improved through acknowledging the areas of intersection across theories and collaborating with multiple stakeholders to design and implement effective instructional strategies to enhance environments and optimize learning for children (Carlson et al., Chapter 9).

Literacy, Mathematics, and Writing

In addition to theories about learning, specific theories are necessary for understanding the discrete academic skills of literacy, mathematics, and writing. For example, the simple view of reading reduces it to decoding and linguistic comprehension. Within the field of mathematics, procedural knowledge refers to knowledge of symbols, syntactic conventions, and rules for solving mathematical problems (Bums et al., Chapter 10, this volume; Hiebert & Lefevre, 1986). The simple view of writing provides a framework for understanding writing, assessing component skills, and implementing interventions to improve writing (Bums et al., Chapter 10). In addition to specific theories for these discrete skills, the learning hierarchy Is an organizing framework that cuts across the discrete skills to understand phases of learning through which individuals progress as they leant new skills (Burns et al., Chapter 10; Haring & Eaton, 1978). Thus, school psychologists can use overarching theories such as the learning hierarchy in combination with discrete theories, such as the simple view of writing to focus appropriate assessment, consultation, and intervention (Burns et al., Chapter 10).

Systems Theory and Systems Change

Promoting systems change is a key school psychology function that encompasses all other functions that school psychologists serve. School psychologists are sys-tems-change agents who can lead schools and districts in reform initiatives that can significantly improve social, emotional, behavior, and academic outcomes for all students. In addition, school psychologists can work as part of state teams and with national agencies to develop and implement policies and practices. Systems theory' provides primary theoretical support for school psychologists as they work as systems-change agents. Systems theory describes properties underlying different systems and how those systems work together towards common goals (Castillo et al., Chapter 11, this volume). Systems theory can also capture breakdowns in a system and strategies to address the breakdowns. Another key framework underlying systems change is implementation science. Implementation science is concerned with the content and process of adopting, installing, implementing, and sustaining programs and practices in systems, such as schools and school districts. Implementation science can be used as an organizing framework to sustain implementation of evidence-based practices in schools (Homer, Sugai, & Fixsen, 2017), which is a critical task due to the perpetuation of practices in schools that lack evidence to support their use (VanDerHeyden et al., 2019).

Family-School Partnerships

The importance of the nested and interlocking ecological systems within which children learn and develop is clear across the aforementioned content areas. The emphasis on interlocking ecological systems elevates the importance of the collaboration of school psychologists with families and teachers as partners in children’s education (Christenson & Sheridan, 2001). Indeed, caregivers play a pivotal role in supporting children; caregivers have hopes, dreams, and expectations for their child’s life, and they are working tirelessly to support them (Garbacz, 2020). Building partnerships between families and educators promotes consistency and congruence across children’s key environments by aligning and integrating evidence-based practices within homes and schools in a culturally responsive manner (Garbacz, 2019). Ecological systems theory' and the phenomenological variant of ecological systems theory describe development and identity development over time. The multiple worlds typology' notes the importance of the different settings children must navigate, often with unique expectations. Together, these theories orient school psychologists to culture and context, identity development, intersecting identities, and differences and similarities across environments that children navigate (Holmes et al., Chapter 12, this volume). Together school psychologists can use these theories to build collaborative and equitable school systems with corresponding home-school practices to optimize social-emotional and academic interventions so all children can thrive.

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