Mike Bahr Leads SSD Project to Improve Culturally Sensitive Practices
Building on the success of their work to enhance culturally-sensitive practices by school-based, mental health professionals, Mike Bahr along with practicing school psychologist Natasha Smith from Maryland recently completed a professional development project with the Special School District (SSD) of St. Louis County. With Karen Walsh, school psychologist and effective service specialist at SSD, they conducted a needs assessment with the district’s 130 school psychologists and then created a professional development program including assigned readings, a two-day workshop, and follow-up assessment procedures to understand the effectiveness of the professional development. One unique feature of this project was the emphasis on both cultural competence and “disproportionality.” Disproportionality is the over- or under-representation of students from minority backgrounds in special education, and it remains a troubling issue for most school districts in contemporary education.
Data analysis on this project is ongoing with the assistance of Shannon Davis, a second-year candidate in the College’s School Psychology Program. The researchers plan to track disproportionality rates at SSD over the next few years to understand the needs practitioners have in working toward more culturally-sensitive practice, including the eradication of disproportionality. (Pictured at right: Karen Walsh, Natasha Smith, Mike Bahr).
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