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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Ann L. Pulkkinen
SOC W 588
Seattle Campus

Social Work in Schools

Required for School Social Worker certification. Explores theoretical frameworks, current issues in education, individual, group and family practice; organizational context; and systems change. Also covers legal issues, racism and educational outcomes, special education, culturally sensitive practice, advocacy, family involvement, child abuse mandated reporting, collaboration, and ethics.

Class description

This course is designed to familiarize students with the nature of evidence-informed social work practice in schools. Course work is relevant to people specializing in school practice and to those preparing to work with children and families in related community agencies. Professional standards required for Washington State Educational Staff Associate certification are covered in this class. The course explores the dynamic social work role advocating for each child’s civil right to “a free and appropriate public education” within the organizational context of school systems. Multi-level practice issues such as school reform, legal rights, truancy, bullying, cultural and sexual diversity, child abuse and neglect, school violence, Response to Intervention, and accommodation of handicapping conditions including special education are discussed relative to current national, state and local trends in education. Lectures, reading, discussion in-class and on-line student presentations examine school social work interventions from the perspective of effective program design, delivery and evaluation.

Student learning goals

1)Demonstrate understanding of the organizational context of schools and learn to function as a school social worker within school systems.

2)Demonstrate understanding of the impact of federal, state and local laws and regulations related to education.

3)Describe the historical progression of the legal rights of handicapped children to receive education, and understand how those rights apply to daily school life.

4)Demonstrate an understanding of evidence-informed approaches to intervention shown to increase the success of certain groups of students at risk of being denied education.

5)Demonstrate understanding and appreciation of the diversity of our student population and the importance of culturally sensitive practice.

6)Demonstrate understanding of how to design social work services and understand the importance of assessment, response to intervention and professional collaboration in successful implementation of services. 7)Apply the NASW School Social Work Code of Ethics to practice.

General method of instruction

The course methodology utilizes an on-site and on-line lecture/discussion/student presentation format, with emphasis upon discussion and student participation in the learning process. The ability to think critically is essential and students are expected to demonstrate such ability. The instructor assumes responsibility for providing a positive learning environment, helping students locate and employ learning resources, and helping facilitate student interaction with the material and each other toward meaningful understanding of the course material. Students are responsible for analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating concepts, information and ideas presented, and for contributing to class presentations and discussions.

Recommended preparation

Current enrollment in MSW program or permission. Interest and/or experience with school systems and their impact upon life outcomes for children and families. Required class for Washington State ESA certification.

Class assignments and grading

Class grading is based on a 100 point scale: 1. Class Participation: Informed discussion in class and on Discussion Board (30 points) 2. School Law Jeopardy Game in Class #2 (10 points) 3. Downloaded class presentation due Class #3, facilitating classroom discussion in Class #4 (30 points) 4. Portfolio/Professional Growth Plan due Class #4 (30 points)

Detailed explanation of presentation and portfolio grading is provided in the class syllabus.

Participation: Learning in this course relies heavily upon active involvement. Students gain the greatest benefit from the course through full participation in the learning experience. Students’participation in class and on our class discussion board is expected to clearly reflect the fact that they have read and can demonstrate objectives of assignments.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Ann L. Pulkkinen
Date: 11/26/2011