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A school psychologist is a practitioner usually in elementary or secondary schools who applies their psychological training to provide assessment services and counseling for students, teachers, and parents.
School psychology began mainly through the testing movement, in the late 1800’s, especially from people like Alfred Binet. Binet’s work resembled school psychology of today, because he developed the first IQ test to screen children who would not benefit from regular education. Binet’s test was brought to the U.S. in the early 1900’s, and was standardized in 1916 by Lewis Terman of Stanford. Today it is known has the Stanford-Binet test. In 1975, Public Law 94-142 (Education of All Handicapped Children’s Act) mandates the free and appropriate education of all individuals from 3-21 years of age. This act, also known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that all children should attend school, including children who often would not receive any advantages of public education in the past due to their disability. Hence, the profession of school psychology flourished as these children needed additional support to be included in the regular school setting. This combined with years of lawsuits and litigations allowed the profession to flourish (Graduate School of Education, 2003).
Theoretical framework and services
According to Division 16 (Division of School Psychology), of the American Psychological Association (APA) school psychologists operate according to a scientific framework. They work to promote effectiveness and efficiency in the field. School psychologist conduct psychological assessments, provide brief interventions, and develop or help develop prevention programs. Additionally, they evaluate services with special focus on developmental processes of children within the school system, and other systems, such as families. School psychologists consult with teachers, parents, and school personnel about learning and behavioral problems. They may teach lessons on parenting skills (like school counselors), learning strategies, and other skills related to school health. In addition, they often have to explain test results to parents and students. They also may do some counseling (State Board of Education 2003; National Clearinghouse, [school psychologist], n.d.).
Education and training
APA only accredits doctoral programs in school psychology, its standards describe how the program should be laid out, but not specific courses to be offered (unlike CACREP) (Committee on Accreditation, 2002). Likewise, the National Association of School Psychologist (NASP) describes how the program should be developed and implemented. Most School Psychologists hold a Master's degree and a CAS, or Certificate of Advanced Study. Two states, Maine and Hawaii require a doctorate degree to practice school psychology. Some states, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) only require a bachelor's degree plus the internship. NASP provides a national credential for those who have the equivalent of a master’s degree plus 30 graduate semester hours, a 1200-hour internship (supervised), and have a passing score on the National School Psychology Examination (National Clearinghouse [school psychologist] n.d.) Accredited programs require courses in school psychology (history/foundation), assessment, consultation, research, and a psycho-educational core. Here, school psychology students must take one course on group processes and a course on approaches to family intervention and counseling.
National Clearinghouse for professions in special education. (n.d.) School psychologist. Retrieved on November 25, 2003, from http://www.special-ed-careers.org/career_choices/profiles/school_psych/SchPsy.pdf
Committee on Accreditation (March 1, 2002). Guidelines and principles for accreditation of programs in professional psychology. [Electronic Version]. Washington D.C.: APA. Retrieved on November 25, 2003 from, http://www.apa.org/ed/G&P2.
- http://www.nasponline.org (National Association of School Psychologists)
- http://www.ed.gov/index.jhtml (U.S. Department of Education)
- http://www.apa.org (American Psychological Association)
- http://www.schoolpsychology.net/ (School Psychology Resources)
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