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School Psychology is a specialty area within the fields of psychology and education that focuses on promoting positive development for children and adolescents. School Psychologists work primarily in K-12 educational settings as members of the educational team along with other professionals, such as teachers, counselors, administrators, speech language pathologists, and other specialists. They provide assessment, counseling, and consultation services for students who may be experiencing learning, emotional, or behavioral challenges. They also work to help promote best practices in schools and school districts.
The primary professional organization for school psychologists in the United States is the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). Please check out the NASP website for more information about the roles of the school psychologist (http://www.nasponline.org/about-school-psychology/who-are-school-psychologists). In addition to NASP, the primary professional organization for school psychologists is the Washington State Association of School Psychologists (WSASP). The website for WSASP (http://www.wsasp.org/) contains information about school psychology in the state of Washington.
There are excellent career prospects in school psychology both in the state of Washington and across the country. School Psychology has been consistently cited as one of the best careers in a number of ratings. For example, in the U.S. News & World Report Best Jobs of 2013 publication, School Psychologist was ranked as the 14th best overall career (http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/rankings) and it was ranked the #1 job in the Social Services area (http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/school-psychologist). Graduates of our program have been very successful in finding positions in Washington and across the country. It is projected that the need for school psychologists will remain high both in Washington and across the country (https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-psychology/shortages-in-school-psychology-resource-guide).
The School Psychology program at Central Washington University offers coursework leading to the Education Specialist (EdS) degree, which is a specialized academic degree falling between the master’s and doctoral degree in number of credit hours. In addition to the EdS degree, successful completion of the program leads to residency-level Washington State Education Staff Associate (ESA) certification as a school psychologist, which prepares you to assume positions in public school systems in the state of Washington and related agencies. The EdS is the entry level degree required for school psychologist certification in most states throughout the country. In addition, because the School Psychology program is approved by the National Association of School Psychologists. Graduates are eligible for the Nationally Certified School Psychologist credential (NCSP).
The program offers two options for completing the EdS coursework. The 3-year on-campus program is designed for individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree on who are not employed in school districts. The 4-year Summer Cohort program is designed for individuals currently employed in a school district. However, the Summer Cohort program is not accepting new applications at this time. The school psychology program and department are committed to continuing to offer our on-campus degree program. In addition to the EdS degree, students who have previously earned a master’s degree in a related field can complete a program of study leading to ESA certification as a school psychologist in the state of Washington. Individual programs of study taking into account previous graduate coursework can be developed in consultation with the Program Director.
The Eds program consists of three years of full-time study, including two years of coursework and practicum and a 1200-hour (full year) internship in the public schools. Students take courses designed to build competence in assessment, evaluation, consultation, and counseling; skill in working with students with disabilities as well as culturally and linguistically diverse children; and a general understanding of the historical and philosophical foundations of psychology and education. A complete list of current coursework requirements can be found in the Student Handbook on this site or in the Graduate Catalog.
In addition to on-campus coursework, students complete a number of service learning and practicum experiences in public school settings. For the internship (third-year), students work full-time in a public school setting under the supervision of both a field-based and university supervisor. The program will work with students to find a beneficial internship placement. Students have completed internships throughout the state of Washington as well as across the country.
The School Psychology Training Program at Central Washington University is committed to training professionals who have expertise in both psychology and education and are committed to applying best practices to support all children in their learning and development. This training is accomplished through a competency based, scientist-practitioner model, which envisions school psychologists as professionals who engage in data-oriented problem solving using the best scientific methods and best practices. In addition, the scientist-practitioner model emphasizes training in basic research methods as well as how to apply research in applied settings. Students have the option of completing a research thesis or participating in faculty-led research teams that conduct applied school psychology projects, many in local school districts. Please see the faculty webpages for information on faculty-led research initiatives.
Beginning in the first year of the program, school psychology graduate students participate in a number of field-based learning experiences in local schools. Partnerships with local schools include implementing behavioral and academic interventions, assisting with data gathering for progress monitoring efforts, and individual tutoring for students in early reading skills. Practicum students gain experience providing psychoeducational services to local school districts and implementing school-based interventions.
Students are also provided experiences working with students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, particularly for children from Hispanic/Latino backgrounds. Our location in the central part of the state provides numerous opportunities to work with children from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds, including those who are English Language Learners. Developing cultural competency and an appreciation for diversity is infused throughout the training program.
Beginning in the first year of the program, students also gain experience through practicum experiences in the Community Counseling and Psychological Assessment Center located in the Psychology Building on the CWU campus. This training clinic provides services to the campus and the community and provides opportunities for students to develop skills in the areas of assessment, consultation and collaboration, and counseling and intervention.
In addition to field based learning experiences, many students conduct research in local schools through evaluating the efficacy of interventions or performing analysis of archival data. Each of these field-based learning experiences help students learn to apply the content knowledge gained in courses and prepare them for later practicum and internship placements.
School Psychology students are provided with a strong foundation in the scientist-practitioner model of graduate training, with a focus on developing the ability to understand the scientific foundations of school psychology as well as the applied skills needed to implement best practices to support children, adolescents, families, and schools. Faculty and students are also active in research and presentation, with regular presentations at regional and national conferences and publications in professional journals. In 2013, the Professional Education Standards Board commended the School Psychology program for the research accomplishments of faculty and students.
In addition to core coursework in school psychology and education, students also benefit from coursework and faculty support from the graduate programs in Counseling and Experimental Psychology. Student development as a scientist-practitioner culminates in the completion of a one-year internship in the public schools as well as the completion of a graduate thesis or participation on a faculty research team.
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