Shortage of School Psychologists
Policies Addressing the Shortage of School Psychologists
There is a critical shortage in school psychology, both in terms of practitioners and in the availability of graduate education programs and faculty needed to train the workforce necessary to keep up with the growing student population. NASP recommends a ratio of one school psychologist per 500 students in order to provide comprehensive school psychological services. Current data estimates a national ratio of 1:1211; however, great variability exists among states, with some states approaching a ratio of 1:5000.
Shortages in school psychology, like shortages in other related education and mental health professions, have the potential to significantly undermine the availability of high quality services to students, families, and schools. Shortages can include both an insufficient supply of qualified school psychologists and school psychologists from diverse backgrounds, graduate faculty, and qualified practica and internship supervisors as well as an insufficient number of positions within districts to meet the needs of students. Consequences of the shortages include unmanageable caseloads; the inability for school psychologists to provide prevention and early intervention services or regularly consult with families and teachers; reduced access to mental and behavioral health services for some students; and limited scope of service delivery focused primarily on legally mandated special education practice.
The Importance of NCSP Parity
In the face of these personnel shortages, school psychologists are in a good position to advocate for salary incentives for school psychologists who meet the National Certification of School Psychologists (NCSP) standards for training and supervision. The process of awarding these stipends is referred to as NCSP parity. NCSP parity refers to the need for school psychologists holding national certification to be treated equally to teachers and administrators holding national certification. In most school districts in America, teachers and administrators holding national board certification are awarded stipends for this accomplishment; in contrast, most NCSP school psychologists are not receiving these awards. Several states and school districts have already succeeded in adopting legislation and school board policies that provide a salary incentive for school psychologists who earn their NCSP. These stipends (a) are viewed as good recruitment and retention tools; (b) promote the employment of highly qualified personnel; and (c) support the delivery of high quality mental health services for students and families.
Your Voice Matters
Below are a set of resources to help individuals and state associations advocate for the recommended policies and practices to remedy the shortage of school psychologists and for NCSP parity. You are encouraged to consult these resources to help you organize and plan for your professional and/or legislative advocacy activities. These materials can, and should, be adapted to meet the unique needs of your local communities and states. For information and resources relating to basic advocacy skills, check out NASP's Policy Playbook.
Advocacy Resource: Workforce Shortages Handout
This resource was created to inform policymakers on the importance of school psychologists, the impact of workforce shortages, selected research, and policy solutions. … more
Advocacy Resource: Advocating for School Psychology Positions
This resource was created to assist individual school psychologists and state associations with advocating to protect and expand on school psychology positions in light of possible budget cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes tips for local and state education meetings, tips for drafting testimony, sample testimony and advocacy emails, social media and alternative advocacy strategy tips, and more. … more
Key Messages and Talking Points to Remedy the Shortages in School Psychology
These key messages and talking points can be used to advocate at the local, state and national level to address the shortage of school psychologists. … more
Model Legislation to Address the Shortage - Creating a Pipeline
NASP developed this model legislation to address the critical shortage of school psychologists by creating a pipeline of graduates. … more
Model State Legislation to Address the Shortage - Recruiting and Retaining Graduates
NASP developed this model state legislation to address the critical shortage of school psychologists by recruiting and retaining graduates. … more
Research Summary: Shortages in School Psychology
A summary of the research on the national shortage of school psychologists and school-employed mental health professionals. … more
Addressing Shortages in School Psychology Resource Guide
A summary of resources and recommendations on how you can improve the shortage issue in your community. … more
FAQ & Infograph - Shortages
Advocacy Roadmap for a Salary Stipend for Nationally Certified School Psychologists (NCSP)
NASP has compiled a number of resources to assist you in advocating for a salary stipend for NCSP's. … more
Advocacy Resource: School Psychologist Ratios by State Graphic
On March 15, 2021, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released their Common Core of Data (CCD) for the 2019–2020 school year. Thanks to ongoing advocacy, this year’s release includes counts of school psychologists. For individuals and states interested in the state level ratios, NASP has created this graphic. … more
On July 13, 2021, NASP hosted a virtual briefing entitled "Improving School and Student Outcomes: The Importance of Remedying Shortages in School Psychology."
This briefing highlights the impact shortages have on students and schools.
State Ratio Graphic