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Reference List

We have designated a few of our references as “introductory.” It may be best to read these first before moving onto other references on the list. The introductory references provide an overview of problem solving and related topics, and are seminal pieces.

Introductory Articles and Chapters:

Deno, S.L. (2005). Problem-Solving Assessment. In Brown-Chidsey, R. (Ed). Assessment for intervention: A problem-solving approach. (10-40). New York, NY, US: Guilford Press.

The purpose of this chapter was to provide background on the problem solving model and how this approach can be used to link assessment to intervention. The author described each step of the problem solving model and presented his conceptualization (the IDEAL model). Importantly, the author defined a ‘problem’ as a discrepancy between what is observed and the desired outcome. He also reviewed the obstacle of determining which problems should be prioritized, or which problems deserve supplementary resources. Overall, this is an informative chapter that highlighted the importance of problem solving and its benefits for students with special needs.

Deno. S.L. (1986). Formative evaluation of individual student programs: A new role for school psychologists. School Psychology Review, 15(3), 358-374.

The author proposed that school psychologists may collect the wrong type of data. In other words, the data collected does not serve to demonstrate the effectiveness of a program for an individual student. School psychologists must collect the type of data that informs intervention, instruction, and provides information regarding student progress. The author identified three ‘faulty’ assumptions about the link between the measurements used and the decisions made based on those measures. First, the assumption that many assessments can serve as a diagnostic prescriptive tool. Second, the assumption that assessments can be used as a pre-test and post-test measure to evaluate intervention effectiveness was claimed to be incorrect. Last, group evaluation should not be used to make decisions for individual students. The author made arguments for why each of these assumptions should be debunked and presented appropriate use of data for the purpose of evaluating student progress. He included the application of CBM for this purpose and clearly outlined the role of the school psychologist for these purposes.

Deno, S. L., & Fuchs, L. S. (1987). Developing Curriculum-Based Measurement Systems for Data-Based Special Education Problem Solving. Focus on Exceptional Children, 19(8), 1-16.

In the article, the authors introduced curriculum-based measurement (CBM) as an alternative to the traditional approach to data collection for students in special education. CBM was described as unique because stimuli from the curriculum are actually used to measure student progress, rather than stand alone measurements. The authors proposed that CBM can be used for screening purposes and can provide information for making referral decisions. In addition, CBM can aid in the development and evaluation of effective interventions and programs. The authors provided a framework for developing CBMs and addressed the technical adequacy, instructional effectiveness, and logistical feasibility of doing so. The authors presented the procedure for developing CBMs in three domains: reading, spelling, and written expression. This seminal article presented a new system for collecting data for students with special needs; the purpose and benefits of using such an approach were highlighted.

Shinn, M. R. (1995). Best practices in curriculum based measurement and its use in the problem-solving model. In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best Practices in School Psychology III (pp. 547-567). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

The author argued three reasons why curriculum-based measurement (CBM) is highly valued in the field of special education. The following advantages of CBM were presented through a case study. First, the fluency measures of CBMs are designed as dynamic indicators of basic skills (DIBS) which gives educators a simple way to determine students’ academic progress as well as inherently promotes the effectiveness of special education programs. Second, CBMs are tied to an explicit decision-making model that corresponds to setting IEP annual goals and planning intervention. Third, using CBM in a problem-solving model facilitates the link between the assessment and intervention. Therefore, better IEPs can be written and assessments can be effectively linked to interventions for students with special needs. This chapter clearly outlined how to incorporate CBM data into an IEP using the problem solving approach.

Intermediate and Advanced Articles and Chapters:

Allen, S. J., & Graden, J. L. (2002). Best practices in collaborative problem solving for intervention design. In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology-IV. (pp. 565). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

The authors presented a collaborative approach to problem solving. They defined ‘collaborative’ to mean ensuring that all members of the problem solving team (including parents) are actively involved in defining and analyzing the problem, and then part of developing interventions. All members are expected to make different contributions that enhance the problem solving process. Collaborative problem solving was touted as a service-delivery model to help individual students, as well as to address classroom-wide and system-wide problems. The authors described the role of school psychologists as facilitating collaborative relationships by defining the roles of each team member and how team members interact and communicate. This chapter provided step by step guidelines for the problem solving model with a particular focus on collaborative efforts.

Burns, M.K., Wiley, H.I., & Viglietta, E. (2008). Best practices in implementing effective problem solving teams In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology V (pp. 1633-1644). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

Authors explained that school psychologists have the opportunity to engage in Problem Solving Teams (PST), especially within an RTI model. The differences between a Prereferral Intervention Team (PIT) and PST are described. Importantly, PST should implement a ‘systematic problem analysis approach’ and typically utilize behavioral analysis techniques. Furthermore, the benefits of using PST within a multi-tiered service delivery system are included. Members of the PST engage in data-based decision making at the universal level, as well as Tiers 2 and 3. Collaboration is also a hallmark of PST in that school professionals must work together to evaluate student data and design interventions. The authors presented four main steps the PST follows: (1) initial consultation; (2) problem-solving team conference; (3) follow-up consultation; (4) follow-up conference. Two forms are provided for the reader to help implement PST with fidelity. This chapter provides an overview of the role of school psychologists on the PST and the duties of the PST as a whole.

Carnine, D., & Granzin, A. (2001). Setting learning expectations for students with disabilities. School Psychology Review, 30(4), 466-472.

Authors of this article presented a “Balanced Model of Accountability.”  As described, the model includes rights, inputs, and processes; system standards and results; and individual student learning. The authors proposed that higher expectations must be incorporated to satisfying the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 1997. Specific suggestions for refining the IEP process are provided, with the intent of increasing student achievement. The article provided specific recommendations for improving the IEP process that appear to be feasible for educators and parents to implement.

Christ, T.J. (2008). Best practices in problem Analysis. In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology V (pp. 159-176). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

The purpose of this chapter was to describe the ‘problem analysis’ step within the problem solving process. The author stated that the purpose of problem analysis is to provide a better understanding of the relevant characteristics of a ‘problem,’ which is defined as a discrepancy between what is expected and what is observed. Once the characteristics are identified, potential solutions can be identified with the hope of impacting student outcomes. The author described the difference between causal and maintaining variables, and their relevance to problem analysis and the identification of potential solutions. Furthermore, the connection between hypothesis testing (potential solutions) and problem analysis was delineated. This chapter provided background in problem analysis, as well as best practices for assessment for problem analysis, engaging in hypothesis testing in a systematic manner, and interpreting data collected during problem analysis.

Cusumono, D. L. (2007). Is it Working?: An overview of curriculum based measurement and its uses for assessing instructional, intervention, or program effectiveness. The Behavior Analyst Today, 8, 24-34.

This article reviewed uses for, and described advantages of, curriculum-based measurement (CBM) within a problem solving framework. For instance, CBM can be used to evaluate and inform instruction; as a measurement of response to a supplemental or curricular program; and as a tool to evaluate intervention efficacy. The author explained the purpose and administration of CBMs across the academic domains. This article covered a breadth of information regarding CBM, however some of the studies cited were not sufficiently described.

Deno, S. L. (2002). Problem-solving as “best practice.” In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology IV: Vol. 1 (pp. 37–56). Washington, DC: National Association of School Psychologists.

The author of this chapter provided an overview of problem-solving and presented the school psychologist as a “data-based problem solver.” In this chapter, problem solving was discussed in the context of human development. In other words, interventions are developed to promote student development cognitively, socially, and physically. Therefore, any problem identified is identified for the purpose of promoting development for groups of students or individual students. Importantly, the author identified problem definition as the key to problem solving model and for achieving positive outcomes for students. Finally, the school psychologist and other school professionals must engage in hypothesis-testing in order to select, and then evaluate, interventions.

Deno, S. L. (1995). The school psychologist as problem solver. In J. Grimes & A. Thomas (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology III. Behtesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

The purpose of this chapter was to define the role of a school psychologist as a “data-based problem solver.” School psychologists can use formal and informal assessment measures to observe current and expected levels of performance and they use formative evaluation to monitor intervention implementation and student progress. School psychologists also fulfill the role of data-based problem solver because they collaborate with other school professionals to explicitly define an observed problem. This chapter reviewed the skills that schools psychologists gain through training that place them in the pivotal role of using data to make decisions and solve problems some students may encounter.

Deno, S. L. & Mirkin, P. K.  (1977) Data-Based Program Modification:  A Manual.  Council for Exceptional Children. Reston, VA

This manual was developed as a result of working in Minneapolis Public Schools, in which the authors identified procedures for creating or modifying instructional programs. These procedures were to be taken on by Special Education Resource Teachers (SERT). When using the model set forth in this manual, the authors stated that modifying a program requires that “(a) a set of specific decisions…must be made and (b) a set of activities…must be undertaken to provide the data base for the decisions.” This manual defined both “Decision Areas” and “Data-Gathering Process” in order to demonstrate the basic tenants of Data-Based Program Modification. This was a seminal work that is now provided on the RIPS website under “Resources.”

Deno, S. L., (1975) Brad and Ms. E.:  A consulting problem with student behavior changes at the focus.  In Psychological Consultation:  Helping Teachers Meet Special Needs, Clyde A. Parker (Ed.).  A publication of Leadership Training Institute/Special Education, University of Minnesota, 1975.

This chapter was in reference to a case study about which Dr. Deno consulted as his tenure as intern supervisor. The purpose was to illustrate how special education teachers learned to provide services to students as they remained in the regular education classroom. The problem identification step was highlighted as the most difficult to accomplish in most consultative relationships, but there were particular challenges due to the consultee’s (teacher’s) biases as well as challenges in building rapport with the teacher. Dr. Deno provided regular intervention sessions to the student and a program was designed for the teacher to implement within the classroom. The following year, the SERT decided that the student required to much individualized attention, eventually leading to a referral to another school in the district where more instructional resources would be available to him. An interview with Dr. Deno is included at the end of the chapter, which described the typicality of this type of situation. This chapter is illustrative of obstacles that consultants may face when intervening with students.

Deno, S. L. & Gross, J. (1973) The Seward-University Project:  A cooperative effort to improve school services and university training.  In E. Deno (Ed.) Instructional Alternatives for Special Education. A publication of the Leadership Training Institute/Special Education, sponsored by BEPDA, U.S.O.E.

The Seward-University Project was described in this chapter. The study was conducted via collaboration between the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis Public Schools to improve student outcomes for those served by special education and to improve preservice and in-service professional development for teachers. This project introduced program modification in which special education teachers continuously evaluate and then modify individualized instructional programs based on student progress. Program modification occurred within the general education classroom. To increase professional development opportunities, teachers were able to earn university credits and enroll in professional growth courses; university representatives worked with school professionals to develop educational goals; and parent education was incorporated. This chapter outlined obstacles that special educators faced. This project was the primary impetus for the later publication of the Data-based Program Modification: A Manual.

Fuchs, L.S. & Fuchs, D. (1986). Effects of systematic formative evaluation: A meta-analysis. Exceptional Children, 53(3), 199-208.

In this meta-analysis, the authors questioned whether individualized instruction, then based on an aptitude by treatment interaction (ATI) approach, truly helped improve student outcomes. ATI is based on the assumption that within-learner characteristics always interact with a particular instructional program in a certain manner. In contrast, systematic formative evaluation was described as a system of ongoing evaluation which then leads to program modification. Systematic formative evaluation provides more specific links to student behavior within the context of a given instructional program. Thus, authors claimed that this was a more effective approach than ATI. The purpose of this article was to gather studies in which the effects of systematic formative evaluation aided teachers in empirically developing individualized instructional programs, and therefore, examined the effects of this approach on student achievement. Results indicated that systematic formative evaluation positively impacted student achievement and was feasibly implemented. This article provided reasons for using systematic formative evaluation during a trend in education in which it was not popular; results indicated its utility and can still be used as evidence in today’s schools.

Gresham, F.M.  (2008). Best practices in diagnosis in a multitier problem solving approach In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology V (pp. 281-294). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

The author provided background on traditional procedures for special education determination and possible downfalls of using this approach. In contrast, the author proposed diagnosis within a multi-tiered problem solving approach as a more standardized and effective approach. Using this model, the referral problem, environment, intensity of intervention needs, and intervention outcomes are emphasized. Thus, the focus of this model becomes the intervention, rather than within-child characteristics. The author outlined ‘diagnosis’ within each step of the problem solving model: problem identification, problem analysis, intervention implementation, student outcomes. Moreover, diagnosis within each of these steps can occur at each tier of service delivery (universal, targeted, intensive). This chapter described the difference between traditional diagnosis and diagnosis within a multi-tiered framework; the purpose was to describe the value of using a multi-tiered framework when diagnosing students for the purpose of identifying the best intervention.

Habedank-Stewart, L., & Kaminski, R. A. (2002). Best practices in developing local norms for academic problem solving. In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology IV. (pp. 737-752). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

The purpose of this chapter was to describe the process by which local norms are developed. In general, ‘norms’ are defined as a standard of performance for a specific group on a given task to which students can be compared. Local norms are representative of students from one educational system. Therefore, local norms allow students in a particular educational system to be compared to other students in the same educational system, which may include the district, school building, or classroom. Authors described advantages of developing local norms. They also described the role of local norms during each step of the problem solving model. This chapter clearly delineated the process for developing norms and their appropriate use.

Stewart, L.H. & Silberglitt, B. (2008) Best practices in developing academic local norms In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology IV (pp. 225-242). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

The purpose of this chapter was to further describe how to develop local norms (why, what, whom, when, and how to norm) and how to interpret them within the appropriate context (e.g., district or classroom). The purpose of developing local norms is to identify and validate problems; set goals; determine the role of progress monitoring (frequency and focus); and resource allocation. Each of these contributes to data-based decision making for individual students, as well as for groups of students. Though there are many benefits to developing local norms, the authors also described the possible challenges school psychologists and other school professionals might face when interpreting them. Last, the authors couched the interpretation and use of local norms within each step of the problem solving model. This chapter was informative and provided clear guidelines for developing local norms at the building and district levels.

Kratochwill, T.R. (2008). Best practices in school based problem solving consultation: applications in prevention and intervention systems. In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology V (pp. 1673-1688). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

The purpose of this chapter was to describe the triadic relationship (consultant-consultee-student) that makes up the problem-solving consultation approach. Indirect service delivery is a hallmark of this consultation model, which means that more students may be served. The author presented two goals of problem solving consultation: provide prevention or intervention methodology to change a system, classroom, or student’s behavioral, academic, or social problem; and to improve the consultee’s skills so that they may respond to or even prevent future problems. This problem solving approach may be used at the individual student, class, or system level. Prior to following the steps of the problem solving model (problem identification, problem analysis, intervention implementation, intervention evaluation), the consultant must work on establishing relationships with the consultee. This chapter aligned this consultation approach with the problem solving model, making it easier for school psychologists as consultants to engage in this type of consultation.

Kratochwill, T. R., Elliott, S. N., & Callan-Stoiber, K. (2002). Best practices in school-based problem-solving consultation. In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best Practices in School Psychology IV (pp. 583-608). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

The authors described the role of a school psychologist in problem solving consultation. The purpose of following a problem solving consultation model is to provide strategies for changing students’ behavioral, academic, or social problems encountered at school, as well as to strengthen the consultee’s skills so that he or she may use the strategies to respond to such needs in the future. The authors described consultation as a proactive and reactive process, depending on the context. Consultation frames the problem solving process in terms of the relationship between the consultant and the consultee. Authors defined each step of the problem solving model in the context of consultation. Best practices for consultation are presented, with an emphasis on the role of the school psychologist. This chapter provided a clear picture of how a school psychologist should engage in a consultative role within the problem solving process.

Kratochwill, T. R., & Bergan, J. R. (1990). Behavioral Consultation in Applied Settings: An Individual Guide. New York: Plenum Press.

Authors of this book presented a comprehensive background in behavioral consultation, including its relationship with the problem solving process. Four hallmarks of behavioral consultation are included in the introduction. The remaining chapters specifically address each step of the problem solving model and the type of consultation conducted for the purpose of each step. This book provided numerous forms and interview templates for facilitating behavioral consultation.

Kratochwill, T. R., Elliot, S. N., & Rotto, P. C. (1990). Best practices in behavioral consultation. In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best Practices in School Psychology II (pp. 195-206). Washington, DC: National Association of School Psychologists.

The purpose of this chapter was to describe behavioral consultation and how school psychologists might take on this role. Applied behavior analysis provided the context for behavioral consultation. The authors presented three characteristics of behavioral consultation: (a) indirect service delivery, (b) problem-solving focus, and (c) development of a collegial relationship (with other school professionals). The first feature, indirect service delivery, is the hallmark of behavioral consultation. This model of service delivery designates the school psychologist as the consultant to deliver services to the consultee (teacher or parent) who then delivers the service to the student. The purpose of following this approach is that the consultant can provide services to more students than if she were required to work with individual students. As a result of this type of service delivery, the consultee learns from the consultant and can use the same approach with other students. The authors described how behavioral consultation fits into each step of the problem solving model. The relationship between the consultant and consultee was emphasized.

Marsten, D., Muyskens, P., Lau, M., & Canter, A. (2003). Problem-Solving Model for Decision Making with High-Incidence Disabilities: The Minneapolis Experience.  Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 18(3), 187-200.

This article introduced three ways in which the problem solving model (PSM) is used in Minneapolis Public Schools. The PSM helps school professionals make decisions about implementing interventions for general education students; referring students to special education; and evaluating students for special education eligibility. The article revealed the efficacy and impact on referral, evaluation and identification rates, but also provided practical interventions within the least restrictive environment. However, the investigators did not have access to a control group.

Rosenfield, S. (2002). Best practices in instructional Consultation. In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology. (pp. 609). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

The authors described that school psychologists must develop a working relationship with the teachers using interpersonal and communication skills. Through instructional consultation, these relationships can be achieved. Authors discussed the essential assumptions underlying the practice of instructional consultation and the training required. Next, authors claimed that data-based decision making is the most integral practice in problem solving. School psychologists can provide support and leadership to identify specific interventions based on the data collected. Five stages of problem solving are addressed in the article: entry and contracting, problem identification, intervention planning, intervention implementation and resolution or termination. Theses stages serve as a framework for the problem-solving process, which is an iterative process. Authors also provided forms to guide instructional consultation, which is extremely helpful for implementing this in a classroom.

Shinn, M. (2008). Best practices for using Curriculum Based Measurement in a problem solving model. In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology IV (pp. 243-262). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

The author presented an overview of curriculum-based measurement (CBM) as it is relevant to educational science and practice and policies and law. CBM was designated as best practice within a multi-tiered problem solving model because it can be used as a screening tool and progress monitoring tool. As a screening tool, CBM can be used to assess all students’ achievement level in one of four academic areas: reading, math, written expression, and spelling. Data collected from this type of assessment can be used to make instructional or intervention modifications. The author described how CBM can be used within each step of the problem solving model. The chapter outlined the use of CBM within a problem solving model and was accompanied by instructional illustrations to help the reader understand making data-based decisions.

Sugai, G. M., & Tindal, G. A. (1993). Effective School Consultation: An Interactive Approach. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

This book provided special educators with various practical strategies they can use in collaborating with other professionals and parents. The book was divided into four parts to demonstrate the concept of consultation, issues related to social behavior problems, practical analysis of instruction and the collaboration with the relevant personnel at school environment. It was designed primarily for special educators who work with other educators in planning, implementing, and evaluating education programs for students with special needs, but also provided a systematic approach to the skills of consultation. The authors focused on the process of consultation and practical skills related to the implementation of a direct approach to intervention selection and decision-making.

Telzrow, C. F., McNamara, K., & Hollinger, C. L. (2000). Fidelity of Problem-Solving Implementation and Relationship to Student Performance. School Psychology Review, 29(3), 443-461.

The authors described reasons for using a problem solving approach to benefit students with special needs, however, they also claimed that when problem solving is implemented by collaborative teams in a school building, some standards may not be met. The authors focused on multidisciplinary teams that implemented problem solving, and whether they implemented the approach with fidelity. Two hundred and twenty seven multidisciplinary teams were recruited for participation and authors investigated the relationship between fidelity of problem solving and student outcomes. Results indicated that teams were best at defining the problem, whereas the “hypothesized reason for the problem” and “treatment integrity” aspects of the process were rather low. Authors hypothesized that variability in the fidelity scores could be related to model conceptualization, training, and documentation; these issues may also impact student outcomes. Implications for practice are provided. This article provided insight about the obstacles that multidisciplinary teams might face when implementing problem solving.

Tilly III, W. D. (2008). The evolution of school psychology to science-based practice: Problem solving and the three-tiered model. In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology IV (pp. 17-36). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

The author of this article described the role of school psychologists in education over the past few decades. School psychologists drive hypotheses via observation in order to apply science-practitioner approach to the problem-solving model. The author described the problem-solving method as a decision-making framework, similar to Heartland’s problem-solving model. In this model, school psychologists use standard guidelines for how they collect data. The final part of the article explained the nature of interventions in a Three-Tier service delivery system, which can be easily translated to a real-world setting.

Tilly, W.D. (2002). Best Practices in School Psychology as a Problem-Solving Enterprise. In Grimes, J. (Ed.).  Best practices in school psychology IV (Vol. 1, Vol. 2) (21-36). Washington, D.C.: National Association of School Psychologists.

This article presented the conceptual and operational underpinnings of a problem-solving approach to improve educational outcomes for students with disabilities. The authors claimed that the most successful implementation of problem-solving model is the Heartland Problem-Solving Approach, which outlines four levels of intensity of providing support to students. The amount of resources used depends on the intensity of the problem. Furthermore, the author illustrated the problem-solving thinking process, which is applied equally to problems at every level of intensity. The Heartland Problem-Solving Approach not only offers understandable explanations to parents and teachers alike, but also clearly describes the crucial intervention components.  This article provided a comprehensive conceptual background for the problem-solving model.

Witt, J. C., & Martens, B. K. (1988). Problems with Problem-Solving Consultation: A Re-Analysis of Assumptions, Methods, and Goals. School Psychology Review, 17(2), 211-226.

The article described how problem-solving can be employed using a client-centered consultation approach. The goal of client-centered consultation is to help teachers develop their competencies, as well as to identify and utilize the existing resources to help students. Problem-solving consultation emphasizes the cooperation between school psychologists and teachers to define the problem and develop potential solutions.  The author explained that teachers use effective classroom management in order to manipulate antecedent conditions and reduce possible consequences. Practical skills within a consultation approach were explored making this a useful source for teachers and school psychologists.

Zins, J. E., & Erchul, W. P. (2002). Best practices in school consultation. In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology IV (pp. 625-644). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

The authors argued that school psychologists must engage in effective consultation, which is best implemented within the problem-solving process. Authors described how to systematically implement cooperative partnerships between consultants and consultees. Finally, the authors presented essential aspects of problem solving within a consultation framework. This article presented the conceptual background needed to implement school consultation into a practical, real world setting.


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Last modified on November 27, 2013.