Standard 5

Comprehensive Prevention and Early Intervention for Achievement

The program provides candidates with opportunities and experiences to display an understanding of the factors that contribute to successful learning. In order to help pupils attain high learning goals, the program provides candidates with the knowledge to identify problems in their earliest stages and to implement prevention and early intervention strategies for addressing these problems. The program requires candidates to demonstrate knowledge of classroom, school, family, and community factors that support pupil learning and to develop skills to assist pupils who experience learning difficulties.

Introduction

Candidates demonstrate understanding of the factors that contribute to successful learning, including knowledge of classroom, school, family and community factors that support pupil learning. Candidates also demonstrate knowledge and skills for early intervention to assist pupils who experience learning difficulties. Demonstration that each content area has been satisfactorily learned and applied is evidenced by a passing grade in the relevant course, an overall grade point average of 3.0 or higher, and a grade of “Credit” for the field practicum. The specific content areas are listed and discussed below with the corresponding social work courses which address the area.

Understanding of factors that contribute to successful learning

Factors that promote academic success: Numerous courses in the MSW and PPS program focus on the range of programmatic structures and the various levels of interventive roles and methodologies that can be employed to prevent failure and promote success of the pupil and the host school and/or supra educational system. These courses represent a comprehensive approach designed to understand the multiple contextual levels that surround each interventive practice situation. Students are prepared through their practice courses to intervene at multiple levels using diverse methodologies as required by the client/pupil, family, group, organization and community, i.e., Advanced Social Work Practice with Individuals (S Wrk 224), Advanced Social Work Practice With Groups (S Wrk 225), Advanced Social Work Practice with Couples and Families (S Wrk 227), Social Work Practice with Formal Organizations (S Wrk 246), Seminar in Social Work Practice With Communities (S Wrk 247), and Advanced Social Work Practice in Schools I and II (S Wrk 274 & 275). For example, see S Wrk 274 course content on Classroom Management. Thus, the system context can serve as both the arena for intervention and the medium/instrument for change in the service of the needs of the client/pupil. Because candidates are taught to think and work systematically with the full spectrum of need, they are not limited to narrow forms of tertiary intervention (remediation/ rehabilitation) but also consider and develop strategies of secondary prevention (early identification and assessment of problematic/need situations) and primary intervention (prevention programs to educate pupils, families, special interest/populations at risk groups, neighborhoods, organizations). The area within which the integration of knowledge and skill of this content takes place is Advanced Field Instructed Practice I and II (S Wrk 282/283), the practicum experience that requires students to work at multiple levels of intervention in the service of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention. Internship assignments are mandated by departmental mission and field instructional objectives to operationalize the full range of diverse interventive strategies at the various levels of system size on behalf of the client/pupil.

Methods to support pupil learning: Practice courses in the MSW and PPS programs offer content on the range of interventive methods that can be utilized to promote pupil success. Micro practice courses focus on practice with individuals (S Wrk 224), families (S Wrk 227) and groups (S Wrk 225). Candidates learn how to conduct an assessment from a strength based perspective of the individual in their context and how to implement a specific intervention strategy relevant to client need. The learner acquires knowledge that enables him/her to identify the rationale for knowing when and how to intervene with individuals and/or groups at different points in the helping process. Included in this content is the development of familiarity with a range of interventive methods including but not limited to specific problem-solving methods, cognitive restructuring, stress reduction and environmental interventions. For example, see S Wrk 224 course content on Evidence-based treatment and evaluation.

Central to all practice courses is a focus on measures to evaluate the effectiveness of one’s own practice.

S Wrk 220 and S Wrk 221, Foundations for Social Work Practice I and II, and S Wrk 246, Social Work Practice with Formal Organizations, provide content on larger system intervention such as consultation, collaboration and advocacy. Both of the School Social Work/CWA courses, S Wrk 274 and 275, present specific methodology for delivery of micro and macro practice services in the school setting. Consultation with teachers, pupil advocacy, parent outreach and peer support are examples of methods that are taught in support of pupil learning. For example, see S Wrk 274 content on Consultation with School Personnel

The opportunity to operationalize this knowledge and develop the application of techniques takes place in the placement setting where the PPS candidate works within an individual and group format (Advanced Field Instructed Practice I and II, S Wrk 282/283). The learner is closely monitored and evaluated by the practicum instructor on their competency in methods/techniques in accordance with individual and group performance guidelines as established in the MSW2 Graduate Field Manual.

Knowledge of classroom, school, family and community factors that support pupil learning

Small System Factors: Candidates develop knowledge of individual and family factors that support pupil learning through foundation content on human behavior and the social environment. S Wrk 212 includes content on lifespan development with a careful examination of expectable behaviors of infants, toddlers, early school age, middle school age, early adolescence and late adolescence. The family context is also covered in this course as well as S Wrk 227, Social Work Practice with Couples and Families. The necessary components of family support to facilitate healthy development, including academic success, are examined. The Advanced Social Work Practice in Schools I and II, S Wrk 274 and S Wrk 275, also provide information on individual and family factors that support pupil learning. For example, S Wrk 275 addresses resiliency and parenting factors in session 2 on Advanced Social Work Practice with Youth.

Large System Factors: Four courses in our curriculum focus on descriptive and explanatory theories of large organizational systems. They also examine the effects of these systems upon their various members, which includes pupils and groups that surround those pupils, i.e., families, faculty, staff, administration, and community. Course content examines the specific features and dynamics of complex organizations, such as school systems, from a social systems perspective and seeks to achieve an understanding of the components of client/pupil success and to address the development of an environment more responsive to client/pupil needs.

These courses include; Human Behavior in the Social Environment: A Multi Systems Approach (S Wrk 212), Social Work Practice with Formal Organizations (S Wrk 246), and School Social Work/CWA (S Wrk 274/275). Complementing this emphasis on understanding and intervention on the mezzo-macro scale on behalf of pupil client groups, is the practicum experience in the school setting, Advanced Field Instructed Practice I and II (S Wrk 282/283). PPS candidates are required to focus their learning efforts on developing means to understand the effects of the formal organization on pupils and to begin the process of creating strategies to address pupil need from a large system perspective. For example, the PPS learning agreement addendum includes assignments focused on the importance of school organizationaland educational policies and procedures.

Conflict Resolution: Courses in the MSW and PPS program curriculum offer the opportunity for candidates to acquire knowledge about the nature of conflict and the strategies that can be used to effectively resolve conflict between pupils and/or between groups of pupils. Content provided in Cultural Diversity and Oppression (S Wrk 213) serves as foundational knowledge for understanding the many dimensions of differences and those among people that tend to separate and polarize.

Specific methods/techniques to resolve conflict are taught within the context of individuals, families and groups. Knowledge of strategies to reduce external environmental stressors, dilute conflict, and expand pupil’s capacity to contain differences and/or utilize differences in the service of growth are offered in the micro practice courses, i.e., Advanced Social Work Practice with Individuals, (S Wrk 224), Advanced Social Work Practice With Couples and Families (S Wrk 227), Advanced Social Work Practice with Groups (S Wrk 225), School Social Work/CWA (S Wrk 274 and 275). One example of this content can be found in a S Wrk 225 class presentation assignment on Conflict Resolution Tactics in Task &Treatment Groups.The context for unifying knowledge and skill about conflict resolution is the practicum experience, Advanced Field Instructed Practice I and II (S Wrk 282/283). It is within the school placement setting that the PPS candidate, under guided supervision, applies those strategies to effect conflict resolution.

Knowledge and skills for early intervention

Knowledge of characteristics of at-risk pupils: There are numerous courses in our program that focus on the bio-psycho-social context that creates those conditions which place pupils at risk. These courses represent the department’s established history of placing a strong curricular emphasis on identifying and understanding environmental factors that place people at risk. Explicit throughout all of these courses is a focus on the strengths of clients/pupils and their needs. Central to the PPS candidate achieving an understanding of both the characteristics of pupils at risk, and the concomitant risk conditions, is the consistent emphasis throughout all of these courses on 1) styles of adaptation and coping, 2) social functioning in association with oppression, inequities of power within ethnic, gender, and persons with disabilities populations, 3) the primacy of human relatedness and interdependency from traditional/non- traditional perspectives, 4) the development of effective self direction, self identity, and social identity, 5) forms of resiliency and the subjectivity of stress responses, and 6) the disruption of cognitive/physical/emotional health toward effective growth and development.

Several courses in the curriculum offer content that provides knowledge of the characteristics of pupils at risk of failing school. Human Behavior and the Social Environment: A Multi Systems Approach (S Wrk 212) includes content on the lifespan/life course with a detailed examination of expectable behaviors of infants, toddlers, early school age, middle school age, early adolescence and late adolescence. An accompanying focus on characteristics and behaviors of these specific age cohorts identifies those who are at risk in their academic, social and familial environments. Subsequent courses build on this foundation content and establish as a primary goal the identification of marginalized populations/ populations at risk, including children who are risk of failing in their primary social context, the school environment. Complementing this course content are subsequent seminars, Advanced Social Work Practice with Individuals (S Wrk 224), and Advanced Social Work Practice in Schools I and II (S Wrk 274 and S Wrk 275), which provide additional content to deepen learner awareness of at risk populations including pupils at risk. For example, see the Class Presentation assignment for S Wrk 275 that addresses common groups of at-risk pupils and includes methods for intervention.   Advanced Field Instructed Practice I and II (S Wrk 282/283) is the practicum experience which offers the opportunity to integrate theoretical/ demographic constructs of pupils at risk with the actual identification of pupils at risk.

Some at-riskpupils will be candidates for grade retention or may have been retained in the past. This exposure provides the learner with the opportunity to apply knowledge of the effects of such retention on achievement and development.

Knowledge of assessment procedures: The acquisition of knowledge of conditions that place students at risk, is highlighted by the content of those courses devoted in part to the identification of the full range of stressors that are part and parcel of these adverse contexts i.e., Human Behavior & the Social Environment: A Multi Systems Approach (S Wrk 212), Human Behavior & the Social Environment:

Cultural Diversity & Oppression (S Wrk 213), School Social Work/CWA (S Wrk 274/275). For example, see S Wrk 212 content on Theories of Lifespan Development.

This content serves as a primary foundational component in the assessment framework and interventive strategies used in those direct practice courses designed to interrupt and prevent further problem development, i.e., Advanced Social Work Practice with Individuals (S Wrk 224), School Social Work/CWA (S Wrk 274/275). Candidates learn to utilize a wide range of information sources to assess the psychosocial context of learning problems: tests; academic, medical, and other relevant records, observations in a variety of contexts and interviews with relevant constituencies such as teachers and parents. The second year internship in the schools, S Wrk 282/283, provides the arena to integrate and apply this knowledge and skill.

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