Centering Families: Advancing a New Vision for School Psychology

Susan M. Sheridan, S. Andrew Garbacz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


At the turn of the current century, Sheridan and Gutkin shared perspectives on the status and future of school psychology. Limitations of then-standard school psychological practices focusing on a medical model of service-delivery were raised, and approaches to realize a new paradigm, including advances in conceptual, empirical, and practical vantage points, were offered. Given the many challenges confronting society today, we argue that this paradigm be focused squarely on the oft-overlooked mesosystem as a critical malleable factor influencing children’s learning and development. In this paper we summarize and critique the paradigm advanced in 2000 and offer a vision for school psychology that centers families as the essential focus of our work. We contend that our failure to do so heretofore has contributed to oppression and alienation of minoritized groups and reinforced White supremacy in U.S. schools. Further, we provide empirical evidence for centering on family voice and experience by partnering with families as co equal stakeholders. What is missing is an emphasis on family–school partnerships in professional standards, district and school policies and structures, and educators’ role articulations. Thus, we offer and illustrate specific roles for school psychologists to lead systemic change recognizing that, if adopted, could change everything. Impact Statement Much has changed in the world, and in school psychology, since Sheridan and Gutkin (2000) offered a new paradigm and ecological lens for school psychology and by extension, education in general. We offer a vision for the future that embraces and ensures all families’ perspectives and voices are heard and integrated in educational research, policy and practice, including the perspectives and voices of minoritized families. We argue that engaging with families as partners is essential to promote equity for all children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSchool Psychology Review
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Amanda L. Sullivan
  • ecological theory
  • families
  • family–school partnerships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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