School Psychology

A Career That Makes a Difference

©2010, National Association of School Psychologists

“Being a school psychologist means providing equitable education for all students and supporting their social, emotional, and academic needs.”
— Wendy Scott, EdS, NCSP

School Psychologist, San Diego, CA

If you want to…
• Help children reach their potential
• Promote children’s mental health • Work collaboratively with others

• Develop interpersonal and communication skills
• Have a variety of career options

then …

School Psychology could be the career for you!


What is a School Psychologist?

School Psychologists understand that all children learn when given:
• Adequate supports and resources
• Recognition of their individual needs • Connection to and trust in adults

• Opportunities to achieve
• Acceptance and encouragement • Cooperation between school and home


School Psychologists link mental health to learning and behavior to promote:
• High academic achievement
• Positive social skills and behavior • Healthy relationships and connectedness

• Tolerance and respect for others
• Competence, self-esteem, and resiliency


When Do Children Need A School Psychologist?
• • • • • • • • • Learning difficulties Behavior concerns Attention problems Problems at home or with peers Fears about war, violence, terrorism Depression and other mental health issues Coping with crisis and trauma Poverty, violence, or life changing events Advocacy of their learning and mental health needs


What Is the Role of a School Psychologist?
• • • • • • • • Assessment Consultation for student and systems-level change Prevention Intervention Staff, parent, and student education Research and program development Mental health care Advocacy


School psychologists work with children, parents and staff to help determine a child’s:

• Academic skills and instructional level
• Learning aptitudes, strengths, and weaknesses • Personality and emotional development

• Social skills and behavioral concerns
• Learning environment and school climate • Special education eligibility


Consultation: Child-Centered
School psychologists: • Provide knowledge to help improve student learning and mental health outcomes • Implement and manage academic and behavioral interventions • Help teachers, parents, and other professionals understand a child’s development and learning • Meet or communicate with others involved with a child to determine the best way of managing or improving a particular concern


Consultation: Consultee-Centered
School psychologists: • Collaborate with teachers to help them identify classroom-based problems and implement databased interventions • Support implementation of effective instruction and behavior management at the classroom level • Assist parents to develop skills to help their children succeed at home and in school • Collaborate with the principal and other school personnel to identify systemic concerns and promote systems-level change

School psychologists: • Implement programs to build positive connections between students and adults • Support early identification of potential academic skill deficits and/or learning difficulties • Design and implement programs for at-risk children • Foster tolerance and appreciation of diversity • Create safe, supportive learning environments


School psychologists: • Work directly with children, teachers, administrators, and families • Develop individualized classroom, and school-wide interventions for learning and adjustment • Design and implement crisis response plans • Provide counseling, social skills training, academic, and behavioral interventions • Develop strategies for modifying instruction to optimize student progress

School psychologists provide teachers and parents training in: • Teaching and learning strategies and interventions • Parenting and disciplining techniques • Classroom and behavior management techniques • Working with exceptional students • Strategies to address substance abuse, risky behaviors, or mental illnesses that affect students • Crisis prevention and response


Research and Program Development
School psychologists: • Recommend and implement evidence-based programs and strategies • Conduct school-based research to inform practice • Evaluate effectiveness of programs and interventions independently and as part of a school-based consultation team • Contribute to school-wide reform and restructuring


Mental Health
School psychologists: • Deliver school-based mental health services such as group, individual and crisis counseling • Coordinate with community resources and health care providers to provide students with complete seamless services • Partner with parents and teachers to create healthy school environments • Promote mental health in the school setting


NASP and state professional associations are dedicated to advocacy. School psychologists encourage and sponsor: • Appropriate education placements • Education reform • Legislative involvement • Community services and programs • Funding for adequate resources • Employment of highly qualified school personnel


“I enjoy building trusting and caring relationships with students, which I strongly believe promotes learning and positive choices in their future.”
— Claudia Gomez, MS

School Psychologist, Huntington Beach, CA

Where Do School Psychologists Work?
• Public and private schools • Private practice

• Colleges and universities
• Community mental health centers • Institutional/residential facilities

• Pediatric clinics and hospitals
• Criminal justice system • Public agencies


Who Are Today’s School Psychologists?
• 74% are women • 47.5% are over 50 years of age

• Employed:
» 83.1% work in public schools » 5.2% work in private schools » 6.5% work in universities » 4.1% work in independent practice » 7.0% work in other

(Curtis et al., 2006)


Ethnicity of School Psychologists
Ethnicity White/Caucasian % 92.6

Black/African-American Asian-American/Pacific Islander American Indian/Alaskan Native Other

1.9 0.9 0.8 .8

Source: 2004-2005 NASP membership survey


Ethnicity of the U.S. Population
Ethnicity White/Caucasian Hispanic/Latino Black/African-American Asian-American American Indian/Alaskan Native Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander
Source: 2010 U.S. Census Bureau

% 74.8 15.8 12.4 4.5 0.8 .15


Linguistic Diversity
• 19.7% of the U.S. population over the age of five speaks a language other than English at home

• Approximately 12.5% of the U.S. population is foreign born
For example, more than 90 foreign languages are spoken by students in the Los Angeles Unified School District in California.

Source: 2010 U.S. Census Bureau


“As a Diné (Navajo) school psychologist, I am working back in my ancestral homeland with my people, using my cultural knowledge and indigenous language to provide a diverse service delivery. I am making a difference by being accessible.”
— Elvina Charley, EdS School Psychologist, Chinle, AZ

Career Opportunities
• Pending retirements have lead to shortage of qualified practitioners

• Current shortage of qualified university faculty in school psychology
• Wide gap between ethnicity of practicing school psychologists and students served • Serious need for more ethnic and linguistic diversity in the field


A Great Career Choice
• Work with children who need you • Help parents and educators

• Enjoy a flexible school schedule
• Have a variety of responsibilities • Receive training in useful skills

• Choose from a variety of work settings
• Have confidence in the stability of your position


Rise to the Challenge!
• Children in difficult situations need solutions to difficult problems

• Parents need ideas for managing children’s behavior and mental health
• Teachers need help working with students’ varied educational needs and behaviors • Society needs mentally healthy, well-educated children


“I wanted a career that focused on youth advocacy in the schools but would allow me to integrate my passion for cultural awareness, equity and diversity into the school community.”
— Cristina Noel-Motta, MS

School Psychologist, Dartmouth, MA

So how do I become a School Psychologist?

Undergraduate Training
• Must complete a Bachelor’s degree • Consider an education, psychology or related field • Take courses in
» » » » » » Child development General and child psychology Statistics, measurement, and research Philosophy and theory of education Instruction and curriculum Special education


Graduate Training
• Education Specialist
» In most states, certification as a school psychologist requires training at the specialist level. » Specialist-level degrees can be identified by several acronyms including; Educational Specialist (EdS), Masters (MA, MS, MEd) and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS/CAS) etc.

• Doctorate (PhD, PsyD or EdD)


Graduate Training - Program Length
• Specialist-level:
» 3-4 years (60+ semester credit hours) of full-time training including a 1200-hour internship*

• Doctorate:
» 5+ years or more (90+ semester credit hours) of fulltime training including a minimum 1500-hour internship*, and dissertation
» *At least (600) hours of the internship must be completed in a school setting.


Graduate Coursework
• • • • • • • • • Learning theory Psychological assessment and intervention Consultation skills Diversity and multiculturalism Normal and abnormal development School organizational systems Counseling theory and practice Statistics and research Applied behavior analysis


Choosing a Graduate Program
Specialist vs. Doctoral degree NASP approval/alignment and/or APA accreditation Size of cohort and location of program Department of Education or Psychology Theoretical orientation Specialties (e.g., early childhood, low incidence, urban, rural, bilingual etc.) • Research opportunities • • • • • • • Financial support (assistantships/fellowships)


Applying to a Graduate Program
• GRE: Graduate Record Exam
» Some programs may require the GRE—Psychology

• Undergraduate transcripts
• Letters of recommendation • Personal statement(s)

• Practice or research interests


FAQ: How does a School Psychologist differ from a school counselor?
School Counselor
At least 2 yrs grad school Trained in ed./counseling Individual and group counseling addressing a variety of issues, career planning, and course scheduling

School Psychologist
At least 3 yrs grad school Trained in ed./psychology Assessment, consultation, behavioral/academic intervention, crisis prevention/intervention, individual /group counseling, and program evaluation Employed in public/private schools, private practice, mental health centers, and universities

Employed in public schools and university advisement centers


FAQ: How does a school psychologist differ from a child psychologist?
School psychologists focus on how social emotional issues, family problems, neurological factors, and mental illness affect learning
Child clinical psychologists:

• Usually work in a hospital, mental health center, private clinic, or university setting
• Are not typically trained in education, instruction, or classroom management

• Do not focus primarily on the multiple factors that affect learning


“School psychology is a career that uniquely offers daily challenges and rewards, all within a collaborative setting.”
— Allison Nebbergall, PhD, NCSP Education Researcher, Fairfax, VA


Job Outlook?
• • • • Excellent both at present and long-term! Not enough graduates to meet demand Retirement will soon open many positions School Psychology was named one of the “best careers” for 2010 by US News and World Report

Source: US News: Money/Careers 41

What types of salaries do School Psychologists receive?
• Median salaries range from $47,880.00 to $67,070.00, while top salaries can exceed $100,000. • Mean per diem salary for practitioners at the specialist level is $287.00 and $350.00 at the doctoral level. » However, many school systems do not make salary distinctions between doctoral and nondoctoral school psychologists. • Salaries for school psychologists vary by state and region.
(Curtis et al., 2007) 42

Curtis, M. J., Lopez, A.D., Batsche, G. M., & Smith, J. C. (2006, March). School psychology 2005: A national perspective. Paper presented at the annual convention of the National Association of School Psychologists, Anaheim, CA. Curtis, M. J., Lopez, A. D., Batsche, G. M., Minch, D., & Abshier, D. (2007, March). Status report on school psychology: A national perspective. Paper presented at the annual convention of the National Association of School Psychologists, New York City. Fagan, T. K., & Wise, P. S. (2007). School psychology: Past, present, and future 3rd Ed. Bethesda: NASP. Hosp, J. L., & Reschly, D. J. (2002). Regional differences in school psychology practice. School Psychology Review, 31, 11-29. Thomas, A. & Grimes, J. (2008). Best practices in school psychology V. Bethesda: NASP. U.S. Census Bureau (2010). Place of Birth of the Foreign-Born Population: 2009. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau. U.S. Census Bureau (2010). Race and Hispanic Origin of the Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 2007. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau. Wolgemuth, L. (2009, Dec 28). Americas best careers 2010. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved from 43

For more information, contact:
National Association of School Psychologists (301) 657-0270

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