Explanation of Professional Roles
Learning Disabilities Teacher-Consultant
State law requires that every school district employ a Basic Child Study Team to identify disabled students and design educational programs to meet their unique needs. Typically, the primary Child Study Team consists of a School Psychologist, Learning Disabilities Teacher-Consultant and School Social Worker. Although these individuals share responsibility for all decisions and recommendations made by the Team as a whole, each member has a clearly defined role.
Essentially, the LDT-C is the educational specialist on the Child Study Team. Certainly, all Team members are concerned with education; but while the Psychologist focuses on the student’s emotional well-being, the LDT-C is the only team member whose primary concern is the student’s ability to learn. In fact, the LDT-C is the only Team member whose certification requires previous teaching experience.
Of necessity, much of the LDT-C’s work involves the testing of students referred to the Child Study Team. A student may be referred by a teacher, counselor, administrator, or parent. Referral does not imply that there is something “wrong” with the student, nor does it even suggest that the student is disabled and eligible. It simply means that the student has experienced observable difficulties in school. These may include academic problems, difficulties in relating to peers or adults, etc. When the difficulty is clearly academic in nature, the student must be tested to determine the nature, extent, and remediation of the problem. Emotional and social problems, too, may cause learning difficulties which must be evaluated.
In order to assess these difficulties, the LDT-C utilizes a variety of techniques ranging from a simple writing sample to standardized testing or a complex instrument like the Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery. This information is reviewed by the other Child Study Team members, who provide analysis from their unique perspectives.
Once testing is complete, the most important function of the LDT-C begins - the design and implementation of an educational program to deal with the identified learning problem. In some instances, this requires that the student be classified to receive services through a resource room, in class support or other special education program. Just as often, the student need not be classified, and appropriate remedial assistance can be provided through the regular academic program. In either case, it is the LDT-C who serves as a consultant to the classroom teacher by recommending instructional techniques and materials.
The role of the School Psychologist is to help students to succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. They collaborate with educators, parents, and other professionals to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments that strengthen connections between home, school, and the community for all students.
School psychologists are highly trained in both psychology and education. This training emphasizes preparation in mental health and educational interventions, child development, learning, behavior, motivation, curriculum and instruction, assessment, consultation, collaboration, school law, and systems.
School psychologists are instrumental in the following areas:
Provide counseling, instruction, and mentoring for those struggling with social, emotional, and behavioral problems
Promote wellness and resilience by reinforcing communication and social skills, problem solving, anger management, self-regulation, self-determination, and optimism
Identify and address learning and behavior problems that interfere with school success
Evaluate eligibility for special education services (within a multidisciplinary team)
Make referrals and help coordinate community support services
Respond to crises by providing leadership, direct services, and coordination with needed community services
Promote school policies and practices that ensure the safety of all students by reducing school violence, bullying, and harassment
School Social Worker
School Social Workers are trained mental health professionals who can assist with mental health concerns, behavioral concerns, positive behavioral support, academic and classroom support, consultation with teachers, parents and administrators as well as provide individual and group counseling/therapy.
School Social Workers are hired by school districts to enhance the district's ability to meet its academic mission, focusing on home, school, and community collaboration which are the keys to achieving student success.
School Social Workers are instrumental in the following areas:
1. Providing crisis intervention.
2. Providing counseling.
3. Assisting in developing positive behavioral intervention strategies.
4. Assisting with conflict resolution and anger management.
5. Working with parents to facilitate their support in their child's school adjustment.