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 500-700 students in order to provide comprehensive school psychological services. Current data estimates a national ratio of 1:1381; however, great variability exists among states, with some state 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. 

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Policy Playbook

NASP's Policy Playbook, completed and released in 2019, was created to provide tips, advice, and best practices on how to fulfill one of the most important aspects of being a school psychologist: advocacy.