Who are School Psychologists?
School psychologists apply their expertise in mental health, learning, and behavior in order to help children succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. School psychologists have specialized training in both mental health and education, and know how to identify and lower barriers to learning. These barriers can include developmental or learning disabilities, behavior difficulties, teaching styles, school/classroom climate, problems at home or with friends, violence, trauma, and mental health problems. School psychologists collaborate with parents, school staff, and other professionals to create safe, healthy and supportive learning environments so that all students can learn and achieve their best.
What School Psychologists Do?
School psychologists provide interventions to students, consult with teachers, families, and other school-employed mental health professionals (i.e., school social workers), work with school administrators to improve school-wide practices and policies, and collaborate with community providers to coordinate needed services. A large part of their job is to assess children for special education services. School psychologists use many different approaches, but generally provide these core services:
- Evaluate eligibility for special education services
- Determine social-emotional development and mental health status
- Evaluate learning environments
- Assess diverse learning needs
Intervention & Collaboration
- Collaborate with teachers, parents, and administrators to find effective solutions to learning and behavior problems
- Help others understand child development and mental health and how they affect learning and behavior
- Provide behavioral and mental health training to teachers and staff
Improve Academic Achievement
- Promote student motivation and engagement
- Individualize instruction and interventions
- Monitor student progress
- Collect and interpret student and classroom data
- Reduce inappropriate referrals to special education
Promote Positive Behavior and Mental Health
- Improve students' communication and social skills
- Promote problem solving, anger management and conflict resolution
- Reinforce positive coping skills and resilience
- Promote positive peer relationships and social problem solving
Create Safe, Positive School Climates
- Prevent bullying and other forms of violence
- Support social-emotional learning
- Assess school climate and improve school connectedness
- Implement school-wide positive behavioral supports
- Identify at risk students
- Provide crisis prevention and intervention services
- Promote tolerance, understanding, and appreciation of diversity within the school community
- Adjust classroom facilities and routines to improve student engagement and learning
Strengthen Family-School Partnerships
- Help families understand their child's learning and mental health needs
- Assist in navigating special education processes
- Connect families with community service providers when necessary
- Help effectively engage families with teachers and other school staff
What Training Do School Psychologists Receive?
School psychologists receive specialized advanced graduate preparation that includes coursework and practical experiences relevant to both psychology and education. School psychologists typically complete either a specialist-level degree program or a doctoral degree, both of which include a year long supervised internship. Graduate preparation develops knowledge and skills in: data collection and analysis; assessment; progress monitoring; school-wide practices to promote learning; resilience and risk factors; consultation and collaboration; academic/learning interventions; mental health interventions; behavioral interventions; instructional support; prevention and intervention services; special education services; crisis preparedness, response, and recovery; family-school-community collaboration; diversity in development and learning; research and program evaluation; professional ethics, school law, and systems. School psychologists must be credentialed by the state in which they work.
Where School Psychologists Work in Our District
Every school in District 196 employs a school psychologist. At Diamond Path Elementary School of International Studies, the school psychologist maintains part time hours on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Adapted from: "What Is a School Psychologist", Andrea Canter, Helping Children at Home and School II: Handouts for Families and Educators, NASP, 2004, and from www.nasponline.org