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 have equal access to effective educational and psychological services to promote healthy development
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:
Among the problems addressed by school psychologists are:
In addition to those procedures typically associated with the general practice of psychology:
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 non-standardized 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.