Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Evaluating School Social Work




I am posting the link for a study which discusses school social work and it's outcomes in the state of Wisconsin. The researchers have not actually performed an evaluation study, but are proposing the best method for implementation. I would like for you all to read through the literature and review the suggestions the authors make for evaluating school social work. Are there suggestions plausible? Did they miss anything? Would their suggestions for evaluation result in the types of outcomes they desire? How might you do this type of evaluation differently?


Click the link to read the study.


As a result, now more than ever before, school social workers need to document positive outcomes for students related to the provision of their work. The challenge is to locally design a simple, valid evaluation system that addresses the priorities of the school district while not consuming inordinate amounts of time and resources. This paper 1) reviews available, relevant literature regarding outcome evaluation of school social work services, 2) includes salient passages from this literature which provide critical direction in designing outcome evaluation, 3) provides suggestions to help guide local design, and 4) outlines a process to develop an outcome evaluation plan using readily available data commonly gathered by school districts that reflects progress on school districts’ goals and is indicative of the positive impact of school social work services.

69 comments:

Teresa D. / Gadsden Center said...

It is hard for me to comprehend that a social worker would not document more than just the basics of who was seen, how many support groups were led, and how many home visits were made, without regard to outcome. YES! They definately need to develop an evaluation instrument that will measure outcome, whether it be positive or negative. How else do they be sure that the services and methods they are using are effective? We, as Social Workers, need to know if what we are doing with our clients is effective. If not, we are capable of making changes that can be more effective...we just have to know!

LaTasha said...

The researcher makes plausible suggestions for the evaluation process. The researcher identifies the research that is presently available for school social work. The researchers also identifies that areas in school social work that could benefit from improvement. The discussion of the success of social social workers help the reader to develop a sense of where to start. The reader also is able to identify the issues that are crucial to the school and community as well as how to address these issues as they relate to the school and community. The suggestions made for evaluation would result in the reader having the desired outcome. The conclusions from the literature are very similar to the steps in the evaluation process. Therefore the information that is presented is suffice and could be beneficial in helping to improve school social work programs.

My only concern with this study is that the information is almost ten years old. I am quite sure that a lot has changed in school social work. I assume that more information is available for practitioners that could be beneficial when working with this population.

Taylor said...

I worked as a school social work intern for my undergraduate field placement and one thing that I found disconcerting at that placement was the lack of effective evaluation procedures. I feel like this article is a good evaluation stepping stone for school social workers. It addresses the fact that there are accountability factors valued by both the community and the school. It also addressed the fact that data for evaluation is most often readily available from both the school district and the involved community organizations. I think that in developing an outcome evaluation of the impact of school social work, it is important to remember the community factors, as well as the school factors, because the effects of school interventions go beyond a classroom setting.
Taylor P.

Taylor said...

I agree with Latasha’s concern regarding the age of the study. School social work is a relatively new field of practice. This article was probably one of the first articles published regarding school social work evaluation procedures. Newer and more effective plans may have been developed since this articles publication, but nevertheless, I still think this article provides a good evaluation template for school social workers. Social workers practicing in a school setting can utilize the evaluation frame work discussed in this article and mold it to their own personal practice setting.
Taylor P. Tuscaloosa

LaTasha said...

I agree with Teresa on the importance of social workers documenting home visits. I think that it would be very important for school social workers to use this tool to help evaluate the effectiveness of the programs. I understand that it is unethical to not document things or to fabricate documentation. However, there are instances where social workers have been guilty of manipulating information. The use of a tool for proper documentation could help with determining the program's effectiveness. I feel that using a good instrument could be beneficial despite the outcome, as Teresa stated.

LaTasha T.
Tuscaloosa,AL

Anonymous said...

The author of the school based article did make plausible suggestions pertaining to the evaluation process. As the reader, I could clearly understand the evaluation process and the possible steps to establish an effective evaluation system. The author gave an example of how to develop an evaluation plan and important factors that should be included when evaluating school social work within the school district. I think the author made a valid suggestion when stating that evaluation is an on going process and should be presented in simple terms, therefore all parties involved can visually see the importance of social workers roles in positive, school related outcomes. David L. Tuscaloosa

Anonymous said...

Virginia H. Tusc.
After reading the literature and the authors suggestions for evaluating school social work, I believe that they have made some plausible suggestions. As a Qaulity Assurance Coordinator, I understand the importance of evaluating the clients outcomes. I strongly urge all school sw to have some means of documenting and evaluating their outcomes with clients. I was also surprised that such an evaluation tool has not already been administered by school districts.

ojwashington said...

Re: Latasha's Blog

I completely agree with you concerning the need for current studies detailing the benefits of school social workers. Several years ago I spoke with the Superintendent of the Fort Payne City Schools concerning employing school social workers. However, based on the lack of research in this area and the number of school social workers in the State of Alabama, he did not feel that the school would benefit from employing a school social worker.

jefN said...

What they are suggesting sounds plausible, I mean at least it is a basic template to evaluating school social work. I find it hard to believe that a social worker wouldn't be evaluating their work. As far as if they missed anything, I am sure that they did, but I don't know enough about what programs or interventions a school social worker would be implementing or what resources are available to them. It sounds like a great opportunity to perform a needs assessment, that is what I would do first and then go from there. And as far as their suggestions for evaluation resulting in the types of outcomes they desire, self reports from delinquent teenagers may not capture what an evaluator is trying to capture. It would depend on what I was trying to capture, exactly, as to how I would do it.

jefN said...

Latasha brings up a valid point, the study is nearly a decade old and in the last ten years we have seen the Columbine High School massacre, Virginia Tech, the explosion of the internet and cyber-bulling, youtube, where people are filming their "dirty deeds" like salvia-use, violence, and sex, and then broadcasting it. Anyway, it's time for an update.

amanda said...

I believe that it is important for school social workers to have a time effective instrument to measure effectiveness. How else can we prove that more school social workers are needed? School social workers need to be able to show what they are doing and how it is affecting the children they are working with.
The authors of the article gave us a simple way to start with evaluating our practice. I think that every school district will be different. Each district will have a set of issues that the social worker will need to address. Therefore, each evaluation tool should be a little different.

amanda said...

I agree with Taylor’s comments about accountability to the school and the community. I believe that for a school program to be completely successful, the community has to be involved. Things that the children learn at school need to be continued at home. The evaluation process needs to include all factors, not just school setting.
Amanda H

David said...

I appreciate the comments Taylor expressed relating to the lack of effective evaluation procedures in the school system. It is enlightening to read the experience from a fellow colleague that has experienced the evaluation process firsthand. The points that Taylor made about combining the community and school factors into the school systems and individual classroom is very salient. I think the public and certain school systems only consider the academic progress that their students are making by annual test scores. What about the importance of not only making sure our children can effectively pass test, but learning those life skills that continue beyond the classroom? David L. Tuscaloosa,Al

Teresa D. / Gadsden Center said...

Good points David, about evaluation being an ongoing process that should be in clear, simple terms!

Anonymous said...

I too noticed how old this study is. I found Taylor's comment on her undergraduate field placement interesting. And as we have all been told if you didn't document it didn't happen. This is one way we as a profession show what we do. At my former job the new executive director is thinking of shutting down our program because he can't see what the people there are doing mainly due to lack of documentation. I thought the suggestions were good but what I found really interesting was the difference of concerns voiced by the community and the school. The school is your boss but the community's concerns were valid too. Donna A

Ariel C said...

I can appreciate the author providing a step-by-step process when evaluating pupil services. I also found it helpful that the author explained each step. I learned through this article that when evaluating programs involving schools, it is important to set goals that are very similiar to those of the school board district. By doing this, the results of the study will not only satify and benefit the school district, but will also guarantee that you will have your job the following year.:)

Ariel C.

Ariel said...

I agree with Tasha that this study is old, however i do believe that it is still useful today. This study in my opinion, gave valuable points. Also, we need more Social Workers like Tasha to become effective evaluation researchers so that future Social Workers such as myself will receive more current information. :)

Ariel C.

Stacy said...

Like Taylor, I also did my undergraduate internship in family services of a school system. I was placed in a preschool that unlike Taylor's experience this school had wonderful program evaluation measures in place. The year that I entered that internship that particular preschool joined with a few other middle and high schools in the area under one school system. It became apparent that year that some of these schools really didn't do a very good job of evaluating their programs. I don't know if the system changes that much as you rise in grade levels or not, but the preschool had a great checks and balances system that many individuals were a part of. Nothing was checked by just one or even two people - everything that was done in the form of services (which is basically everything you do in schools) was documented and evaluated proficiently. I was actually amazed once I learned how some school systems do things differently. Thank you Josh for giving us this information as think it is a pretty good guideline for school social work evaluation.

I also agree with Taylor in that what goes on in the school system and in the community are directly related to me. Any service that a student at risk may need while they are in school will pretty much be doubled when they enter into the community as an independent member (that is if they are not "reached" by a worker of some kind)and for the school services to be so vastly different than those recognized by the community as being important is obsurd. I would however like to end my comments by saying that school systems have huge responsibilities in education alone and the fact that communities identify so many issues as needing services maybe indicates that we need to form more programs outside of the school system and within the communities to address some of these needs for our children and adolescents. If enough people pull together for the same cause anything is possible in just about any community - after all isn't that how the school systems have what they have anyway.
Stacy C.

chadknight said...

In my opinion, the suggestions made by the researches are credible. As more accountability is being placed on teachers in school systems, it would be necessary that social workers in those systems be able to provide evidence that their services are helping students achieve academically. I had never thought about this aspect of school social worker, but the researchers made an interesting point about how the goals of the social work intervention must be congruent with the goals of the decision makers/school boards. Those higher administration officials may not have the same values as the social worker and would probably be more interested in academic success as measured in numbers. However, the researchers suggestions for evaluation would most likely result in outcomes they desire because a student is more likely to succeed academically if his needs are being met at home or if his attendance increases. The only thing I might do differently is focus more on parental involvement as a result of social work intervention with the student, which would probably be viewed by school board members as a positive outcome.

chadknight said...

Re: Amanda

I agree with your comment about every evaluation tool needing to be different for each school district. And, I too feel that it is important that school social work services be evaluated in order to show those in charge that we can make positive changes. We know that social work services are needed in schools, but without a valid way to jusify the costs of those services they probably will not be implemented.

Anonymous said...

This study had a lot of good points. I appreciate the fact that it addressed the need to use multiple levels of assessment to test for student progress. There needs to be increased measurement tools to assess how well teachers and students are doing. I feel that it is very important to incorporate quantitative and qualitative tools as part of their process. I do think that the study was very outdated and much changes in our educational system in a year much less nine years. The study did not mention any special tools to address students with learning disabilities. I know that with the foster care system quickly growing, we have several children that need special one on one attention and may take a little more time to learn than an average student. Robin G.-Gadsden

Stacey L said...

Even though this article is almost 10 years old, I feel that it could still be used as a basic guideline to evaluate not only a school social work program but also any other program that you might be involved in. This article identified who, what, where, when and how. I feel that all bases were covered and I can really not think of anything that I would add to the evaluation. I agree with the statement on page 6 that stated KIS – “Keep it Simple”. I can not speak for other class mates, but I am all about keep is simple and get to the point. Stacey L

StaceyL said...

In response to Amanda, I also agree that it takes everyone working together to make or break a school system. The parent’s involvement with the student is the core part of the success of a student as well as the success of the school that the child attends. The community should look at the local schools as an investment to the city’s future. Strong schools make for a strong community. Strong communities in return bring in strong economic growth and that brings in more money for the city. The money is invested in city parks, museums, etc. It is amazing when you consider the fact if you support the children in the local school, you can make a city grow and prosperous. Stacey L

bekkah_s said...

I believe that it is vital for social workers to evaluate the quality of service provision to be effective. I liked the author's point regarding the need for collaborative evaluation. However, the researcher's angle for the purpose of evaluation was confusing to me. I would have liked for the article to include the needs of the client population as well as management in the evaluative process. I feel like the author missed a big piece of why social workers are needed in a school. The author said nothing in their conclusion about providing feedback from students to demonstrate their (the swer's) strengths and weaknesses. The authors focused their attention only on test related success regarding the goals of the governing body. The authors talked about relating the information to the school board's perception of the problems and their developed goals to prove that they are effective. What if the management's guidelines do not match up with the real needs of the students? I definitely understand that the social worker needs to support and follow guidelines from upper management. However, the evaluation really provided no room for creativity or client feedback.
I too noticed that the article was outdated and many events have happened since the time of publication as jefn said. One thing I would especially like to know is how this evaluation model works with No Child Left Behind if its primary focus is on academic success. No matter what view one holds on this policy, we need to consider how implementation of legislature could possibly deem a social worker effective or ineffective.
Evaluation is imperative to our practice as social workers. One thing I learned from this activity is that evaluation can be vital to us keeping our jobs. However, I feel that a social worker could best represent themselves and demonstrate accountability by finding a happy medium in evaluation to highlight the voice of of the clients while presenting the information to the managers.

socialworker_09@yahoo.com said...

Evaluation of school social workers and the student's progress when a sw is placed into the school system is a good indication of the need for sw in the schools. I have always believed that school sw were a necessity, especially in today's society. There needs to be a strong focus on the student's outside influences, peer pressure & home environment & not just academic assessments. I did a research project on this idea & was shocked at the lack of school sw & the need for them & also how crucial every area of a child's life plays on their performance and success in school. As sw we should advocate strongly for school sw in the State of Al. This study appeared to be plausible & outcomes could be achieved with these evaluation techniques over time.
Faye S.

yahoo said...

I just lost my blog! I have a yahoo account. I will try to remember what I posted! School sw are a necessity, in my opinion. This study was plausible & I didn't notice anything missing. The desired outcomes are possible, if evaluation techniques are put into place. I strongly believe in the difference school sw can make, having experienced this with my own child. It is also crucial to students, especially in today's society not only to have access to a sw at school but for the staff & SW to assess & evaluate the student from a holistic viewpoint. The family, outside influences & peer pressure can often have a drastic impact on a child's education. It is important to advocate for school sw in our state & be able to demonstrate & document their effectiveness in the school system.
Faye S.

In comment to David's blog, I agree that evaluation is an ongoing process & should be presented in a simple format, for all to understand. Also, as stated by Donna if we didn't document it, then it wasn't done.
Faye S.

drcraft said...

I agree with the comments already documented. The evaluation process suggested in the article had a valid outline to develop an outcome evaluation plan. The article provided direction critical in implementing data reflecting both the school districts goals and impact of the school social work services. I have completed performance improvement evaluations on our departments social work documentation and, it is a necessary tool that identifies the areas for improvement and service effectiveness. More effective measures are necessary to address the benefits of having social workers in the school system.

Linda B said...

I understand the need for evaluation in school social work, and other social work avenues, but my fear would be that school social work would take that same course that many folks feel teaching now takes; teaching the test instead of what is necessary for a well-rounded education. It would be easy to lose focus, and concentrate on only measureable data, such as school attendance, and miss important factors that are difficult to measure.

Linda B said...

I feel that the study has valid points about how to conduct school social work evaluation. I agree with the point of obtaining as much information as possible from existing data such as school grades and attendance, to decrease intrusiveness, and be less labor-intensive. I also agree that it would be impossible to measure every aspect of intervention, and that the research should focus on some primary aspects that are considered important to the community of educators.

drcraft said...

Good point Linda, regarding the fear that school social work may possibly take the road some feel that teaching has taken, and miss the important factors while focusing only on the data that is measurable. However, as it is with most all of our jobs - we just have to find the balance of performing upper managements guidelines, while providing quality service to our client's and evaluating our own improvement with whatever measure we have in place or create for implementation.

drcraft said...

David L., I agree with your point about not only ensuring that our children have made academic progress but knowing that they have developed those life skills that will carry on beyond the classroom. I can speak from experience, that a Social Worker would have been beneficial in assessing/identifying needs other than test scores, etc. b/c as we all know,some of these issues are not relfected in academics, but emotionally, and a professionals intervention at this stage of a students life is crucial.

LaTasha T. said...

In my comment, I specifically state that the researcher identifies the research that is presently available for school social work. I also stated that this research can be beneficial to school social workers. However, I think that there is more information available that could help school social workers to become more productive at what they are expected to do.

Anonymous said...

Teresa hit the nail on the head by stating “It is hard for me to comprehend that a social worker would not document more than just the basics of who was seen, how many support groups were led, and how many home visits were made, without regard to outcome.” Any professional keeps a record of basic information like this, so why would we as social workers be excused from this practice? I think an evaluation tool would be pertinent in ensuring that this program is achieving its predetermined goals. As several others have stated an updated version of this plan would be beneficial as the original was dealing with teens from the 90’s and though many of the issues are the same, there has most likely been a shift in which issues are now more relevant then in the past. Going back to the documentation aspect of this article, it truly ties into EBP where we need to prove that our profession is worth while and making progress and change. If we have no documentation or evidence to back this up our work and over all profession can appear less valid.
Heather M.

Anonymous said...

In response to Amanda’s comment about each evaluation tool being different, I did not initially think about this. But just as issues change over time, issues are different in every location. It reminds me of the incident in Rockdale County Georgia that took place several years back with the syphilis outbreak, this was not necessarily taking place in every pre teen / teen group across the country, but it was a major incident there. This just demonstrates the need for a flexible evaluation tool.
Heather M.

S.Ray said...

After reading the article regarding the evaluation process of school social workers, the importance of evidence based practice is obvious. Unfortunately the bottom line of any program is funding, especially with local school districts. As social workers we must be able to prove our worth. It is essential that, not only school social workers, but all social workers, continually evaluate their programs. This evaluation process is not only important for clients served but also for the social worker. The purpose of continued evaluation is to consistently provide feedback in order to ensure that you are providing needed services and are meeting the program goals with those services. It is important to document improvements made and to show how vital the connection is between school social workers, parental involvement and student success. Our local school district does not employ social workers; apparently they do not see a need to do so. I worked in a school for several years (as an instructional aide, not a social worker) and I know first hand the difficulties that teachers face without parental involvement. I witnessed teachers attempting to engage parents in school meetings; however the majority of the time parents could not take off from their jobs during school hours and some simply were not interested. I often wondered how much more a social worker doing home visits could have accomplished concerning the task of engaging parents. I believe that parent involvement is essential in the success of any school program.

S.Ray said...

I agree with Chad's comments regarding the importance of showing the relationship between academic performance and student needs being met. If school boards saw academic success rates increase and evidence based practice of school social workers could prove the effectiveness of their programs then funding would be there, without a doubt.

Anonymous said...

Okay, lets try this again. My first blog is lost out there is internet land somewhere. Program evaluations for school social work departments are few and far between. There are not many out there and this article, while a little outdated, offers a good starting point for others to build upon. A few points though to consider. The article mentions who the target population, ie high level school administration, school board, principles. I would add teachers to the target population as they know the students the most, not the others who probably don't even know the students names (except the principle). Another point I would like to make is that they plan to use numerous variables to gather data, including both quantative and qualitative information. Much can be learned from observations especially in a school setting.
Angel P. (Tuscaloosa)

Anonymous said...

In response to Linda B's comment,
I completed a field placement at a middle school in Tuscaloosa and know first hand how important school social workers are and how they differ from guidance counselors. Most of my referrals came from teachers concerned about their students, from the dirty/torn clothing they were wearing, sudden lack of interest to wondering why their student was suddenly sleeping all the time. I worked with grieving students and brought a different perspective to the school than the guidance counselor could. My point is if the passion is there to teach, you will do a good job and not cut corners. The same with a good social worker, but the article points out the social worker's primary responsibility is to the school system, so I could see the potential for some conflict there at times.
Angel P. (Tuscaloosa)

Tiffiney Brittingham said...

The research seems plausible and potentially effective. School social work and school social workers are not seen as an important part of development for children in school. Most of the time people think of school social work as the counselors job. The research and evaluation would benefit the children and social workers. It will help prove that school social work is needed and beneficial to families and children.

I agree with LaTasha she study is out of date, but the information provide is a good reference to inspire future research and evaluation on school social work.

Tiffiney Brittingham
Tuscaloosa

scarlett holt said...

Overall,the suggestions made seemed plausible to me, and though I am not familiar with school social work, I am sure that some things were overlooked in the process of developing this evaluation. I am unsure of how I would conduct this type of evaluation, perhaps by first investigating methods used by other school social workers, and combining what was found to be successful with elements that would benefit the individual needs of my school. Frankly, I was just pleased to see the term "school social work" posted. I have found that many schools are lacking social workers, and do not seem to understand the need to have them.
Scarlett H.

scarlett holt said...

Re: Amanda
I agree with Amanda that each school district should be viewed individually and an evaluation tool be based on the needs presented. Additionally, I also feel that school social workers would be taken more seriously and valued if the need for them could be demonstrated, as through support from effective intervention methods.
Scarlett H.

T M Morgan said...

This article has so many excellent points it is hard to comment on just one or two. I think that when evaluating and defending our programs it is definately crucial to have good records and whenever possible to use data that is already being collected. Also thought it was a great idea to keep officials current on the impact your services and programs are having, rather than waiting until services are about to be cut. Some really excellent suggestions for program evaluation, regardless of the setting.

T M Morgan said...

David from Tuscaloosa makes an excellent point about keeping things simple. Many people in the community are not interested in a lot of jargon and three inch thick reports. They want to know if it is working and what the benefit is to them. They want to know that their money is being well spent. We need to relay that to them as quickly and simply as we can.

Walter Leanier said...

Walter states:
Social Workers should be accountable for their actions. Social Workers should cause no harm improper documentation may cause harm. How can one evaluate their practice or the agency. Social Workers must be able to reconize some form of progress with their consumers. Walter L.

I agree with latasha
the researcher plausible suggestions are needed in order to direct the community and students into the right direction. Social Worker must cause no harm. Walter L.

S.Ray said...

I agree with Chad's comments regarding the importance of showing the relationship between academic performance and student needs being met. If school boards saw academic success rates increase and evidence based practice of school social workers could prove the effectiveness of their programs then funding would be there, without a doubt.

ojwashington said...

I feel that the evaluation process suggested in the article would be a plausible method for social workers to determine the effectiveness of the services they provide. When providing services to clients, practitioners must have an evaluation instrument to measure if the services are effective. I recall a situation of not having any type of evaluation tool to measure the effectiveness of services being provided at the Lee County Youth Development Center. The counselors that worked with adolescents at Lee County Youth Development Center Program STARS Program did not have any type of evaluation instrument to measure the effectiveness of the services that they provided. Although this was not in a school setting it is an example of how the lack of an evaluation tool affects clients because there is no standard to measure if these services are effective. I would like to state that many of the counselors working in this program were using treatment methods which were not effective in addressing the issues and needs of their clients.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Linda B when she said that students need a well rounded education. Not all learning should be based on if a student is a good test taker. Teachers should be allowed more freedom to encorporate a variety of styles in their teaching because not all students learn by using a cookie cutter style. Robin G

Anonymous said...

Virginia H. Tusc.
I agree with Faye S. and many other students that an evaluation tool for school social workers is very much needed. This would allow for school districts to apply for grants to fund SW positions with in the school system.
In Bibb County most of our schools have counselors who are very involved and have been employed by DHR at some point. With limited resources in small counties, school sw could advocate and refer students to needed services that they would probably not have access to without the assistance of a school sw.

Anonymous said...

Virginia H. Tusc. Said
After reading the Behavior modification study for the treatment of obseity I believe that behavior modification appears to be more successful and should be promoted. I certainly agree with the study that often weight that is losed if gained back. As it as been said in the past, loosing weight and being healthy requires a life change, and not a diet. The behavior modicafication, assist persons seeking to loose weight to modify their life, by recoginizing their bad eating habits and working to correct those. This study was interesting, appeared scientifically based and had positive results for behavior modicafication in the treatment of obesity.

Anonymous said...

I agree with teresa on how unbelievable it is that a social worker would not document more throughly, but one thing I have learned is that just because you are a social worker doesn't mean you are a good one. And I agree that yes the study is old and probably outdated but still holds some valuable information as stated by Stacey. Donna A

Linda B said...

I agree with S. Williams, about the need to keep parents in the home rearing children, instead of putting them in jail, costing the system money. It sounds like a win-win situation, to keep the mentally-ill stabilized and able to contribute to the family and society.

Anonymous said...

The suggestions made by the researches are plausible; however, additional information and ideas are needed. I feel it is imperative to promote further studies regarding evaluations of school social work services. It is vital for a study to be current and efficient to achieve accurate results. Even though the article is dated 1999, it provides a foundation for people, such as social workers, to build on. joann

Anonymous said...

How can you argue with Taylor P. or David L.’s posts? This article establishes a starting point of subject matter that should be pursued with combining the community and school factors. More proficient literature can be produced by taking in consideration more ideas from various settings and view points. joann

Gina Smith said...

As I read this article and the posts, I couldn't help but think about "Dangerous Minds." Would it have made a difference in the lives of those teenagers if there had been a social worker there to assist the one teacher that appeared to care whether the students were successful. Documentation in the file of prior contact, home visits, family history, possible gang affilitation, and other important information, would have been helpful to this teacher.

Every social worker, not just in a school setting, should document every detail about the families and children that they work with. Docmentation of services and their outcomes lead to a more accurate evaluation of the effectiveness of those services. To continue to send a child for evaluation for ADD or ADHD, when in fact, the cause of his inattentiveness or restless might be hunger, is not in the best interest of the child or an effective use of services.

I agree that this study is old and maybe somewhat outdated; however, I do believe that the principle behind the study continues to be a need today. In depth documentation on which an effective evaluation can be built can only lead to more effective services for children and families.

Gina S. Gadsden

Gina Smith said...

I believe that Taylor's comment on remembering that community factors and school factors effect children throughout their life. Children are in school less than 8 hours a day and on the average of 9 months per year. What is shaping them when they are not is school. Teachers and school social workers have time limited access to students. I believe that to involve the community in the school and to advocate for community programs that involve the parents and are designed to reinforce the school's curriculum after school and during school breaks would be beneficial for children. This might mean that teachers and school social workers have to volunteer to be a part of the community programs, but the benefit to the children outweigh the costs.

Gina Smith, Gadsden

Tysie Baker said...

One of the most important tasks of being a social worker is properly documenting everything that you do. To be honest in all occupations it would probably be wise to document everything you do, just in case those things come back to try and hunt you. I can appreciate the study that began to evaluate school social work, I am sure that when we begin working in our concentrations that we will also be evaluated as to whether or not we are performing accordingly. This study was plausible in that all occupations people are effectively evaluated even if it is just by their supervisors. The information was effective because it showed how effective school social work really is. My hope is that one day I can thoroughly critique and evaluate the progress I am making with clients.

Tysie Baker said...

I must agree with Taylor. Although, I did not complete my undergraduate field placement at a school, it was somewhat discouraging seeing social workers become comfortable in their environment and not being concerned as to weather or not the interventions were working. It is like they were just going about day to day in assessing clients, but unable to determine if what they were doing was really effective.

Tysie Baker said...

I must agree with Taylor. Although, I did not complete my undergraduate field placement at a school, it was somewhat discouraging seeing social workers become comfortable in their environment and not being concerned as to weather or not the interventions were working. It is like they were just going about day to day in assessing clients, but unable to determine if what they were doing was really effective.

bekkah_s said...

I agree with Gina Smith's comments regarding the Dangerous Minds film. The students and teacher might have benefited from an advocate such as a school social worker. However, it would be important to have a teacher with an open mind who could understand difficult problems in the teenagers' lives instead of labeling them.
Although school social workers are common in urban settings, they are almost nonexistent in rural communities. Perhaps better evaluation of services provided in the urban setting could lead to more positions in rural areas to serve kids in need.

Rebekkah Smith

Stu J. said...

The article is well written and comprehensive in regards to guidance for school-based and other evaluation research initiatives. Evaluation must be incorporated into programming initiatives at a time of funding stress.

Stu J. said...

In response to Latasha's reply, I appreciate comments shared. In regards to the article's age, I found the principles still very current and of use.

Anonymous said...

Conteria Williams, original post to Evaluating School Social Work.

It was hard for me to understand why any social worker would not document more everything while dealing with a case. Because, we know that our rule of thumb is that if it is not documented it did not happen. I feel that as a social worker, we need to have an evaluation instrument that will measure our outcomes. With implementing this instrument, we will be aware of what worked and what needs to be adjusted.

Anonymous said...

Conteria Williams, response to Taylor in Tuscaloosa.

I agree that the article is old and had to be published as one of the first articles regarding the school of social work. However, the information that is recorded contains good information that can still be useful to social workers. But, since the information is so old one can start with this article and gather a clear understanding of the way things should be done in today's social work world.

nikkig said...

In response to Teresa D,
Well said, and so true. The unfortunate thing is that there are social workers who do just enough to show that services are being delivered even if only minimally. You are so right in that we must make sure we do more than just provide a service, but that we also look for ways to enhance effectiveness for our clients.

nikkig said...

The article points out that school social workers do not report to community based organizations, but only to their respective school districts. However, though school social workers do not report to community based organziation, their collaboration or the lack thereof, is just as significant as those of the parents of the children being served. School social workers are still a part of the client's system and should be just as much accountable for providing appropriate effective services as the parents are responsible for follow through and follow up with services in the home. It is not enough that the social worker provide service that satisfy the requirements of the school district but they must provide services that improve and enhance the lives of the children they work with in order to be considered effective.

Sara S. said...

Original Posting:

School social work is so important, and I don’t understand why every school does not have at least one social worker on staff. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. The school counselors have other issues to deal with and can’t do all the “social work” things by themselves anymore. One thing that really stood out to me in the article was how school social workers are now going to have to document more positive outcomes with their programs. This just made me think about this semester and how we have been talking about evidence based practice. Every profession/workplace is now making their employees accountable for what they are doing. People aren’t getting funding if they aren’t showing interventions that are working, and that is how it should be. I came from a profession that already uses evidence based practice so it just makes sense to me, and I am glad that other areas are starting to really implement it.

Sara S. (Tuscaloosa)

Sara S. said...

Response Posting:

LaTasha,
You make a good point in saying that we need to remember the fact that the information in this article is almost 10 years old. Things in the professional world of social work change so quickly so some of this information could be outdated. However, it still does have valid information and suggestions for improvement which we could use to build upon and do further studies.

Sara S. (Tuscaloosa)

Debbie Walker said...

One of the recommendations made from this evaluation of social work services in the schools was to use the information identified in the study to improve services. Also, the panel recommended that the information offered regarding the program evaluation should not be perceived as self serving. Stakeholders want to see improved outcomes not just “hard work.”

Debbie Walker said...

I agree with Taylor it is so important to evaluate any social work program for accountabilty and outcome measurement. But it is critical for a school social work program to be evaluated so that interventions can be adjusted or implemented acording to needs of the consumers.