Public Description of School Psychology
School Psychology is a general practice and health service provider specialty of professional psychology that is concerned with the science and practice of psychology with children, youth, families; learners of all ages; and the schooling process. The basic education and training of school psychologists prepares them to provide a range of psychological diagnosis, assessment, intervention, prevention, health promotion, and program development and evaluation services with a special focus on the developmental processes of children and youth within the context of schools, families and other systems.
School psychologists are prepared to intervene at the individual and system level, and develop, implement, and evaluate preventive programs. In these efforts, they conduct ecologically valid assessments and intervene to promote positive learning environments within which children and youth from diverse backgrounds to ensure that all have equal access to effective educational and psychological services that promote healthy development.
Advanced Scientific and Theoretical Knowledge Germane to the Specialty
School psychology has evolved as a specialty area with core knowledge rooted in psychology and education. School psychologists have advanced knowledge of theories and empirical findings in developmental and social psychology, and developmental psychopathology within cultural contexts, and in the areas of learning and effective instruction, effective schools, and family and parenting processes. School psychologists conceptualize childrens' development from multiple theoretical perspectives and translate current scientific findings to alleviate cognitive, behavioral, social and emotional problems encountered in schooling.
A strong foundation in measurement theory and applications of advanced statistical methodology support efforts by school psychologists to design or evaluate standardized and nonstandardized measures in emerging assessment areas for individuals from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds and to design and evaluate innovative classroom programs, comprehensive and integrated service systems, and educational and psychological interventions.
School psychologists are accountable for the integrity of their practice. They protect the rights of children and their families in research, psychological assessment and intervention. Their work reflects knowledge of federal law and regulations, case law, and state statutes and regulations for schools and psychological services. They appreciate the importance of the historical influences of educational, community, state, federal and organizational dynamics on academic, social and emotional functioning of children and youth in educational settings.
Professional preparation for the specialty of School Psychology occurs at the doctoral level.
Parameters To Define Professional Practice in School Psychology
School psychological services are provided in a broad array of settings (e.g., schools, workplace, school-based and school-linked health centers, as well as medical, social service or correctional facilities). School psychologists recognize schools as a crucial context for development. They
Know effective instructional processes
Understand classroom and school environments
Understand the organization and operation of schools and agencies
Apply principles of learning to the development of competence both within and outside school
Consult with educators and other professionals regarding cognitive, affective, social and behavioral performance
Assess developmental needs and develop educational environments that meet those diverse needs
Coordinate educational, psychological and behavioral health services by working at the interface of these systems
Intervene to improve organizations and develop effective partnerships between parents and educators and other caretakers
An essential role of the school psychologist is synthesizing information on developmental mechanisms and contexts and translating it for adults who are responsible for promoting the healthy growth and development of children and youth in a wide range of educational contexts.
Consistent with an emphasis on the development of competence, school psychologists provide services to learners of all ages and the systems and agencies that serve them and their families. Among the populations served are:
Individuals from birth to young adulthood presenting learning or behavior problems
Specific disabilities that affect learning, behavior or school-to-work transitions
Those that experience chronic or acute conditions of childhood and adolescence that influence learning and mental health
Individuals with mental disorders first evident in infancy, childhood or adolescence
Families who request diagnostic evaluations of learning disabilities and social problems and assistance with academic and behavioral problems at home and at school
Teachers, parents and other adults to enhance their ability to provide healthy relationships and environments that promote learning and development
Organizations and agencies to promote contexts that are conducive to learning and development
Educational and developmental problems related to school achievement and school adjustment
Social or interpersonal problems related to learning or behavior
Specific disabilities and disorders that affect learning, behavior or school-to-work adjustment
Chronic or acute situations of childhood and adolescence that influence learning or mental health, such as personal or school crises or mental disorders first noticed in infancy, childhood or adolescence
Adverse social conditions that threaten healthy development in school and community, such as community and school violence, juvenile delinquency, teenage pregnancy and substance abuse
Problems of instructional and learning environments that affect the functioning of the school age population
Assessment of cognitive abilities, achievement, social and emotional functioning, personality and developmental status
Use of interviews, observations and performance assessments to understand learning and behavior problems
Accountability for valid and reliable measures of behavior and treatment progress
Diagnostic assessments to support eligibility for and delivery of services within statutorily regulated contexts that integrate diagnostic information from other professionals to support recommendations for educational modifications and community services
Primary prevention programs to reduce the incidence of academic failure, school violence, sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy and programs to promote children's well-being through more appropriate educational and classroom accommodations
Secondary prevention programs to assist students who have mild or transitory problems that interfere with school performance, such as poor peer relationships, learning or behavior problems in the classroom, and adjustment to adoption, death or divorce
Crisis intervention services that support children following natural disasters, violence, abuse, death or suicide by a student
Consultation with teachers, parents, agency administrators and supervision of psychological services staff concerning children's behavior and academic and social problems
Professional development programs for teachers
Design and direction of comprehensive and integrated service delivery systems
Consultation with physicians and other professionals concerning the school functioning and learning of children with disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning disorders, chronic illness, physical or genetic conditions, and substance abuse
Educational evaluation services including development of appropriate measures of child behavior and classroom contexts
Analysis of academic achievement using standardized tests, performance assessment, self reports and other appropriate methods
Evaluation of individualized educational plans
Observation and measurement of teacher and parent behaviors
Evaluation of instructional and organizational environments