Strengthening the Future for the Next Generation of School Psychologists
By Patti L. Harrison
This is a very exciting time to be a school psychologist! Our many graduate students and early career school psychologists can be assured that they are entering a well-established and widely recognized profession. Federal and state statutes, regulations, and authorities, such as IDEA, Elementary and Secondary Education Act/NCLB, and the U.S. Department of Education, refer to the important services provided by school psychologists for all children. For the third consecutive year, U.S. News and World Report (Wolgemuth, 2009) selected a career as a school psychologist as one of America’s best. The latest edition of the U.S. Department of Labor–Bureau of Labor Statistics (2009) Occupational Outlook Handbook describes the positive job outlook for school psychologists.
The practices of school psychologists have evolved in many ways during our long history, since our first state credentialing in the 1930s. Following the implementation of the Education of All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, our field experienced a huge growth in the numbers of school psychologists, with our roles often tied to special education assessment and eligibility. During the last few years, a number of factors have converged to promote school psychologists’ involvement with many significant roles that serve all children and families in schools, including the implementation of IDEA 2004, effective and evidence-based instructional practices, expanded school mental health services, increased emphasis on crisis prevention and response, and early intervention for children’s learning and behavior difficulties. School psychologists have never been in a better position as valuable and indispensable school personnel to provide services for children, families, and schools. A recent NASP (2010) document serves as an excellent guide for current and future school psychologists and summarizes our outstanding qualifications and effective school psychology services that will contribute to learning and mental health outcomes for children in the 21st century.
A priority initiative for NASP in 2009–2010 is to increase our capacity to prepare the next generation of competent school psychologists. Our NASP Student Development Workgroup and Program Approval Board ensure that graduate preparation of school psychologists is of high quality and that graduate students are provided with numerous opportunities to enhance their competence and acquire a strong affiliation with our profession. Because it is important that graduate education and support for early career professionals be linked effectively with all other NASP activities, our new Early Career and Graduate Education workgroups have developed resources for graduate school-to-career transitions and promoted the involvement of graduate students and beginning professionals in advocacy efforts. NASP publicizes school psychology careers to prospective graduate students, enhances recruitment of new graduate students, reinforces early career school psychologists, and develops resources for faculty in school psychology graduate programs. NASP connects all of us in school psychology!
On February 20, 2010, NASP received the good news that, after a 3-year revision period in which various restrictions and limitations on the school psychologist exemption were proposed, APA adopted a revised model licensure act that continues to recognize the authority of state education agencies (SEAs) to credential and title school psychologists. During our advocacy efforts, NASP continued to emphasize our position that the title “school psychologist” accurately reflects the well-established requirements for graduate education and strong qualifications of school psychologists credentialed by their SEAs. We appreciate APA’s serious attention to this issue and are grateful for the many contributions of the entire school psychology community that resulted in this positive outcome. I also encourage you to read the Communiqué articles that summarize the many activities of NASP and APA Division 16 (see page 7). The title and practice of current and future school psychologists—and our important work for children—remain strong.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. (2009). Occupational outlook handbook, 2010–11 edition. Available: http://www.bls.gov/oco
National Association of School Psychologists. (2010). School psychologists: Improving student and school outcomes. Available: http://www.nasponline.org/advocacy/SP_Improving_Student_School_Outcomes_Final.pdf
Woglemuth, L. (2009, December 28). The 50 Best Careers of 2010. U.S. News and World Report. Available: http://www.usnews.com/money/careers/articles/2009/12/28/the-50-best-careers-of-2010.html
Patti L. Harrison, PhD, NCSP, is a faculty member in the University of Alabama’s school psychology program and an Alabama certified school psychologist.