School Psychology Services
School psychologists provide a variety of professional services to support the academic achievement, positive behavior, and social-emotional wellness of all students, especially those who struggle with barriers to learning. School psychologists play a critical role in supporting the attainment of the goals of local school divisions and help to ensure that every student is ready to learn and every teacher is empowered to teach.
School psychologists work with students, teachers, administrators, and families to:
- Improve academic achievement
- Promote positive behavior and mental health
- Create safe, positive school climate
- Support diverse learners
- Strengthen family-school partnerships
- Improve school-wide assessment and accountability
Scope of Services
School psychologists are able to provide a broad range of services to all students and families to remove barriers to learning, improve school climate and safety, and ensure that students are engaged and available for learning. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Practice Model (2010) outlines the comprehensive services that school psychologists are encouraged to provide.
The roles and responsibilities of school psychologists in Virginia may vary according to their local school division and community needs as well as available staffing ratios. Examples of professional services provided by school psychologists within a comprehensive model include:
- Develop and integrate school-wide programming to promote social–emotional and mental wellness for all students based on the needs of the school community.
- Deliver professional development to school staff and families on a range of topics, such as trauma informed practices, mental health first aid, crisis prevention, suicide prevention, effective discipline, and behavior management.
- Help schools conduct comprehensive needs assessments to develop strategies to address attendance, poverty, trauma, violence, and other barriers to learning.
- Enhance coordination and alignment of efforts to improve school safety, including crisis prevention, intervention, and response.
- Design, implement, and evaluate a comprehensive range of interventions for students at risk for academic, social–emotional, or mental and behavioral health concerns.
- Provide mental and behavioral health services for individual students and groups of students, including the delivery of individual and small group counseling and direct instruction in social skills.
- Support school-wide efforts to facilitate student progress toward measurable goals through data collection, progress monitoring, and data interpretation.
- Support divisions and school leadership teams by effectively integrating and interpreting of multiple data sources to aid in decision making.
- Conduct culturally competent psychoeducational evaluations to assess abilities, skills, and social/emotional functioning of students suspected of having a disability.
- Conduct functional behavioral assessments and assist in the development of behavior plans.
- Work collaboratively with teachers in delivering effective differentiation strategies for students with diverse needs.
- Collaborate with teachers and school leaders to implement universal, targeted, and intensive academic and behavioral support programs using evidence-based practices.
- Facilitate collaboration and coordination between school and community providers to ensure access to wraparound supports for students with the most significant needs.
School Psychology Training
School psychologists receive specialized advanced graduate preparation that includes coursework and practical experiences relevant to both psychology and education. School psychologists typically complete either a masters-plus or specialist-level degree program (at least 60 graduate semester hours) or a doctoral degree (at least 90 graduate semester hours). School psychology training includes the development of knowledge and skills in:
- Assessment (including cognitive, academic achievement, interpersonal emotional / social functioning, and sensory-motor)
- Prevention and intervention services, including academic, behavioral, and mental health
- Consultation and collaboration with administrators, teachers, parents, and other professionals
- Diversity in development and learning, including knowledge of resiliency and risk-factors
- School-wide practices to promote learning
- Data-based decision making
- Special education services
- Crisis preparedness, response, and recovery
- Family-school-community collaboration
- Research and program evaluation
- Professional ethics and school law
School psychologists must obtain a Virginia Board of Education Pupil Personnel Services License with an Endorsement in School Psychology to practice in Virginia public schools. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) licensure office works to issue licenses based on the Regulations for School Personnel. The requirements for an endorsement in school psychology are listed in Section 650.
Licensure Regulations for School Personnel: School Psychology Endorsement Requirements
The VDOE Licensure webpage includes information about how to apply for a license. For specific questions about obtaining a license in Virginia, please contact the VDOE’s licensing office at 804-225-2022 or via email at LICENSURE@doe.virginia.gov
- 2017 School Psychology Assessment Institute
“The Identification, Assessment, and Treatment of Trauma and PTSD at School”
May 17, 2017 Williamsburg, VA
- 2016 School Psychology Assessment Institute
“Smart but Scattered: Improving Executive Skills to Promote School Success”
May 19, 2016 Charlottesville, VA
- Special Education Technical Assistance & Guidance
- Evaluation and Eligibility For Special Education and Related Services: Guidance Document (Word)
- Bullying Prevention
- Suicide Prevention Guidelines (PDF)
Outside Resources & Links
- Virginia Academy of School Psychologists (VASP)
- National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)
- Virginia Board of Psychology
- American Psychological Association (Div 16)