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Follow-Up: UCLA PPS Summit

By John H. Correll, Ed.D., NAPSA Trustee and Past Director of PPS/Special Education/Student Assessment

Community High School District 99, 6301 Springside Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60516

Most within the NAPSA organization are familiar at this point with the PPS Best Practice concepts as articulated by Drs. Howard Adelman and Linda Taylor, the co-directors of the UCLA School of Mental Health Project/Center for Mental Health in Schools.  Drs. Adelman and Taylor are professors within the Department of Psychology at UCLA, and have presented extensively on this topic at NAPSA conferences and conferences of other professional organizations as well as a series of regional summit meetings all over the country.

To greatly simplify, Drs. Adelman and Taylor describe six broad areas of “PPS Curriculum” that can help us map out our role in schools in the coming years.  These six areas are:(1) Classroom Focused Enabling (interventions within the classroom), (2) Support for Transitions, (3) Student/Family Assistance Programs and Services, (4) Crisis Response and Prevention, (5) Home Involvement in Schooling, and (6) Community Outreach for Involvement and Support.  While there is much other information very useful for PPS leaders, examples are provided that help articulate what each of these areas may actually look like in today’s schools.

However, such broad information may reach only the “interesting” level unless a school district that is serious about implementation of these concepts in it’s own structure examines them more completely.

Community High School District 99, Downers Grove, IL (a two high school district of 5400 students in suburban Chicago) has operated a PPS Advisory Council for the past 12 years.  This council consists of representatives from both of the campuses in all the PPS areas (counseling, psychology, social work, dean, student assistance, student assistance, nursing, speech/language therapy, ESL/bilingual, special education) as well as regular education teachers.  The group meets four times per year to discuss issues of student support across the district.

For the past year and a half, the Adelman/Taylor material has been a major topic of discussion for this council as we have tried to articulate how these processes apply to us.  A variety of small and large group work organized within different formats (by school, by professional area, etc.) have been held to review each of the six areas and begin to consider what they mean for our school district.

The first step was to describe what we already do in each of these areas, which were considered successful, which had some problems with their implementation, and how many students/families they impacted at what level.  In broad strokes, our school district found that we were fairly strong in classroom focused enabling (interventions), crisis response and prevention, and support for transitions (especially for special education students).  Areas that were considered “emerging” were community outreach and student/family assistance programs and services, and home involvement in schooling.  This kind of preliminary analysis led to the establishment of some action plans, responsibilities, and timelines for exploring additional options in the emerging areas, and helped the group to focus on research based areas of PPS work that truly are meaningful for students.

Each campus will do further work at their own site to examine their structure and how PPS can be best delivered in their environments.  This is seen as an ongoing process and has helped the PPS leadership and staff focus on those areas that are most important to serving the needs of the children and families regarding school success.

The findings of any individual school system are not as important as the use of a process to examine these concepts at each local school district.  If a PPS advisory structure exists, that may be the appropriate vehicle for consideration of how to apply these concepts.  If not, perhaps focus groups, school based PPS teams, or other structures may be facilitated and used.  This school district has found the process to be very worthwhile and it has helped the PPS staff, and others, view their work in a more organized manner regarding student success in schools.  This topic of local implementation of these six concepts will be presented as a break out session at the NAPSA Conference in Biloxi in October 2004.

Drs. Adelman and Taylor may be reached at:

School of Mental Health Project/Center for Mental Health in Schools

Department of Psychology,

UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563

Phone:  310-825-3634

Fax:  310-203-8716

E-Mail: smhp@ucla.edu