Empowering Children, Educators, and Families

Kansas Association of School Psychologists

Spring 2020 Edition

Lina Kitson, Editor Teresa Walters, Associate Editor

KASP Vision and Mission

KASP VISIONKASP visibly leads in promoting proactive, research-based practices and partnerships which foster the academic and psychological well-being of children, for their benefit and that of their families, schools, communities, and the profession of School Psychology.

KASP MISSION:  KASP exists to advocate for the psychological and educational well-being of Kansas children, while serving the needs of the membership and promoting school psychology as a profession.

KASP in the Social Media

**Click on the images to follow along!

Please Welcome the New KASP Board Members

Stacy Moddie-President Elect

Julie Zollinger-Treasurer

Teresa Walters-Associate Editor

Melissa Sullivan-Executive Manager

Amy Drinnon-Conference Chair

Lori Thornton-Central Region Director

Kaira Hayes-Southeast Regional Director

Jennifer Kitson-University Representative

Molly Spencer-Student Representative

President's Message

Hello everyone! I hope you have had a relaxing holiday break as you start back into the New Year.  We have had some new things happen with the KASP board that I am excited to share. At our recent Winter retreat, we changed some over some executive board roles and updated our strategic goals.   

We had some amazing people finish their term or resign from the board that have been on the KASP board for a long time.  I want to give special recognition to: 

  • Keely Persinger who has served on the board for 20 years in a variety of roles but primarily as our Executive Manager and recently as our President-Elect.  

  • Betsy Crawford who has served on the board for 16 years in a variety of roles and serving as President at least 2 times. 

  • Jaime Johnston who has served for 10 years mostly serving as Treasurer.  

  • Jeanelle Herrel who served for 2 years as Editor.

Serving in a leadership role is rewarding but as you know these are volunteer positions.  We appreciate the hours that these people have volunteered their service to help grow and expand our association. 

Please take a look at our executive board page to see some new faces.  With new board members we hope to continue to strive toward serving our membership in a variety of ways.  As we reflected on our board goals we have moved forward in Board Collaboration and Local/State Partnerships.  As part of our Board Collaboration, we have updated our constitution/bylaws with our general membership and updated our standing rules as an Executive Board.  These are tedious items but really help us run our board meetings more effectively so that we can begin to tackle more Mega-Issues going on in our state like Dyslexia or potential changes to exceptionality labels.  Our other strategic goal we have shown significant progress in is building Local/State Partnerships. KASP has been a part of many task forces this year and recently state leaders have been calling upon our association for insight on big issues.  

Providing stronger professional learning and relevant resources is our goal to move forward this year to become a better association for you.  Please key into this Newsletter for some more information about Dyslexia.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions and let us know how we can better serve you.  

Psyched to be your President 

Jessica Mefford

Jessica Mefford, Ed.S

KASP President


Board News and Announcements

Board Minute Summary by Angie Howard, Secretary

The KASP Board convened in Junction City, Kansas on the evening of Friday, January 3, 2020 and on Saturday, January 4, 2020.  The Board engaged in roll call and new members were welcomed.  Members reviewed constitutional changes approved by membership on October, 3, 2019 at the meeting of general membership.  Members of the board engaged in Onboarding procedures, which included a review of board responsibilities and the Constitution.  The board members also participated in Web training related to fulfilling duties as members of the KASP Executive Board.
The webmaster annual report was reviewed and regional reports were given.  The Central Region Report included discussion regarding the upcoming CASE virtual conference scheduled for February 26th-27th at ESSDACK in Hutchinson. The Southeast Region shared information regarding the success of the previous fall regional conference on collaborative problem solving.  The Western Region Report entailed discussion of possibly hosting a regional meeting this year.  There were no updates from the Northeast Region.  The Executive Manager gave a report that included information pertaining to upcoming changes to the payment system utilized for payments received through the website, and a change in PO Box location.  The conference chair issued a report that included information related to conference evaluation forms and plans for the upcoming fall conferences.  A brief report was given by the NASP Delegate including discussion of the possibility of a member of the KASP Board attending NASP Public Policy Institute training in May.  The treasurer gave the end of the year report and the board engaged in budget planning for the current year.  The board engaged in discussion related to necessary modifications to the bank accounts as a new treasurer assumes the position.  The KASP editor and assistant editor of the newsletter requested ideas for the upcoming newsletters and shared plans for upcoming information to be shared. 

The board discussed the upcoming School Mental Health Awareness day on Thursday, February 6, 2020 at the state capital including the need to advocate for an increase of attendance of school psychologists this year to ensure adequate representation of our profession.  The board engaged in discussion regarding a proposal being made at the state level to change the Emotional Disturbance label to Mental Health Condition.  The board selected a representative from the KASP Executive Board to attend the then upcoming panel discussion with the special education advisory board on January 14th to engage in conversation and share some concerns that were identified by the board related to this proposed change. 

Board members reviewed the KASP Board Strategic Goals and progress made toward goals.  Dates for future board meetings were determined.

Timely Events

Feb 6 2020

9:00-4:00 PM

Kansas State Capitol

Topeka, KS

The School Mental Health Lobby Day is co-sponsored by the Kansas Association of School Psychologists, the Kansas School Social Workers Association, and the Kansas School Counselors Association.

The School Mental Health Lobby Day will help participants learn about details of school finance, the importance of school mental health, and how to effectively communicate with policymakers. Participants will also have the opportunity to meet with Kansas Legislators and advocate for school mental health services.

9:00 Welcome

9:00-9:45 Dr. Sue Peterson (KSU Governmental Relations)

9:45-10:15 Lieutenant Governor Lynn Rogers

10:15-10:30 Break

10:30-11:30 School Mental Health Team (Seaman USD 345) Panel Discussion

11:30 Closing Remarks

11:45 Lunch

The afternoon session is designed to allow participants to attend hearings and schedule appointments with legislators to share information about school based mental health.

Sponsored by Representative Fred Patton

To contact your legislators, click here and use the Find Your Legislator tool on the left side of the page.

$10 Registration includes lunch

If you are a member of KSSWA or KSCA, you may register for this event through your organizations website. Click here to register

Timely Topics

About the work of the Dyslexia Task Force and Recommendations Committee Provided by Deb Farr

The creation and work of the Kansas Legislative Dyslexia Task Force was the results of legislation passed after grass-roots efforts lead mostly by parents in regard to their students reading needs not being met and their experience of resistance by schools to evaluate their children when dyslexia was suspected. The original Task Force was led by then KSBOE President Jim Porter and made up of parents, legislators, educators, independent intervention providers, and was expanded to include educators. It was further expanded to include educators with specific knowledge and practice related to reading and dyslexia; this is how I came to be on the Task Force.  The Recommendations Committee was the result of the Task Force’s work and created with the purpose of developing a plan to actualize the work of the Task Force; I was on that Committee along with other professionals, parents, KSDE, and independent providers. While a primary original goal of the parents (as they initiated legislation) was to mandate dyslexia screening in public schools, the work of the Task Force revealed that screening for dyslexia is not where the root of the problems lies.  Rather, the work of the Task Force revealed that standards upon which teacher and reading specialists preparation are based were not adequately addressing the foundations of reading including how the brain actually learns how to read, what foundational concepts and skills need to be included and implemented into reading instruction, and how to identify and plan for students who are struggling readers.  Those with dyslexia were just the tip of the iceberg.  

Additionally, some sad (my opinion) experiences regarding and impacting our profession and practices of Kansas school psychologists were spotlighted during the work of the Task Force and Recommendations Committee. Many parents and administrators reported that often school psychologists were persons and professionals who seemed to be part of the problem, specifically in terms of identifying children with dyslexia. Parents and administrators frequently reported that school psychologists stated they couldn’t or would not identify dyslexia or do evaluations when dyslexia was suspected. Parents frequently reported they were faced with school professionals (school psychologists, administrators, special education directors, teachers) incorrectly calling dyslexia a “medical” condition and requiring parents to seek outside evaluations.  Administrators
 sometimes added to this problem by reporting they did not believe school psychologists were qualified to evaluate and identify dyslexia.  All of these reports are in contrast of NASP position statements and articles (2011 NASP Position Statement: Identification of Students With Specific Learning Disabilities; Communique, Volume 46 Issue 3, pp. 1, 20-23) and statements by KSDE (Addressing Dyslexia within MTSS, September 2011; and in the Kansas Special Education Process Handbook).  Furthermore, school psychologists reported that sometimes these barriers were placed by administrators barring them from doing this part of their job.  

Regarding the identification of students with dyslexia,  the role of school psychologists is clear and vital.  Dyslexia is one of many kinds of Specific Learning Disabilities.  Like all SLD’s school psychologists play a vital and important role in identifying them through school-based evaluations when they are present and being involved in decisions about intervention planning and eligibility determinations.  Like all SLD’s the presence of one does not always require specially designed instruction and special education, but as stated in the regulations we have a duty to identify disabilities when they are present; dyslexia is not an exception to this.  If professionals feel as if they do not have expertise to identify dyslexia (or other disabilities that fall under IDEA), professional responsibilities and ethics behoove them to build that expertise to fulfill their role.  If for no other reason, school psychologist who feel they are underequipped or face barriers in the identification of dyslexia are strongly encouraged to seek the training and supports needed to break down those barriers and to build this area of expertise.  

The work of the Task Force yielded several recommendations including the development of the Dyslexia Recommendations Committee.  The Recommendations Committee worked for several months to develop recommendations to guide the next steps of the Kansas Board of Education. The Kansas Board of Education adopted all those recommendations in November 2019.  Those recommendations are detailed here.

If I were to make any recommendations to my fellow colleagues as a way to become a leader and not part of a barrier, I would offer these ideas:

  1. Read the NASP statements about dyslexia and assessing dyslexia. 
  2. Accept and develop the school psychologist’s responsibility and role in doing school-based evaluations for dyslexia and become good at doing them.
  3. When dyslexia is clearly identifiable, NAME it as the specific learning disability that it is and then advocate for appropriate evidence-based intervention and supplemental supports as indicated by the child’s specific and individual needs.
  4. Develop knowledge and expertise in the Science of Reading by taking part of professional development opportunities.  These could include individual or group book studies, participating in LETRS training, attending professional development conferences offered by the International Dyslexia Association or The Reading League.
  5. Listen to the following podcasts on the APM Educate podcast channel:  
    1. Hard to Read: How American schools fail kids with dyslexia
    2. At a Loss for Words: What's wrong with how schools teach reading
    3. Hard Words: Why Aren't Our Kids Being Taught to Read?
  6. Individually or with a PLC, study the following texts: Dyslexia Screening & Evaluation Flow Chart , Assessment of Dyslexia from the Communiqué, Dyslexia Screening & Evaluation Flow ChartBook recommendations.

Additional Dyslexia resources

The Reading League is a non-profit organization aimed at advancing evidence in practice in the area of reading. While we have long known the importance of the Big 5 (phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension), few schools have included those components in their core instruction in a way that produces the kind of learning results that develops skilled readers.  Cognitive science has continued to emphasize the importance of explicit and systematic reading instruction but has also led to new findings related to the importance of advanced phonemic proficiency and its role in orthographic mapping.  The Reading League’s mission is singular:  advance the knowledge and implementation of evidence-based practices into the instruction of reading.

As school psychologists, staying up to date on the most current information can be challenging, but with the new dyslexia legislation this knowledge is even more essential. The Reading League offers phenomenal resources and professional development through live and recorded presentations, journals, and other events at little to no cost.  To learn more, please check out their website and their YouTube channel

A group of educators are working to bring these discussions and resources to a local level with hopes of establishing a Kansas Reading League affiliate in the spring of 2020.  To receive updates on and join in on those efforts, please complete a short questionnaire at the following link.

PD Events

On February 18, 2020, Auburn Washburn Public Schools is hosting a FREE professional development opportunity.  Laura Stewart, the National Director of The Reading League will be in Topeka to share a  presentation around the science of reading - how the brain learns to read, and how instruction can be designed and implemented using the most reliable and current research by cognitive scientists. Those interested in this event can reserve their spot by calling or emailing Cathy at 614-487-2365 or Cathy.ausby@zaner-bloser.com . Those interested are encouraged to register soon, as registration closes on February 11 and is capped at 75 persons.  Catered lunch will be provided by Zaner-Bloser.  

Convention News

-Save The Date-

Spring Convention 2020

 May, 8 2020

8:30 AM - 3:30 PM (CDT)

Emporia, KS

Strengthening Executive Functioning Skills in Children and Adolescents

Presented by Dr. Peg Dawson

Additional information can be found here

Graduate Student Corner Student Representative Update


The NASP 2020 annual convention registration is open. Please click here for additional information

2020 Vision: Leadership in Focus

Kansas Association of School Psychologists (KASP) is approved by the National Association of School Psychologists to offer continuing education for school psychologists.  KASP maintains responsibility for the program.                                         

 KASP is a NASP approved provider of CPDs.   KASP is approved provider #1030

No person will be denied access to or full participation in any KASP program, event or activity on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, disability, or age. 

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