Education and training for school psychology practice is sequential, cumulative, graded in complexity, and designed to prepare students for further organized training. Theoretical and research foundations are integrated with practice issues, while didactic training is integrated with field experiences throughout the curriculum. As students progress through the Program, courses on the various aspects of school psychology professional functioning build on knowledge and skills learned in earlier courses. In each successive year of the program, practicum courses offer opportunities to practice an expanding set of school psychology professional skills. Early in the Program, orientation to the profession and the culture of the schools is stressed, along with development of psychological foundational knowledge and basic professional practice skills. Later in the curriculum, more advanced professional practice skills are emphasized, such as those related to systems/organizational interventions and professional leadership, and students increase their depth of knowledge in selected specialty practice areas.
During the first year of the Program, courses focus on theoretical and empirical psychological foundational knowledge necessary for effective professional practice, on introducing the student to professional functioning, and on developing knowledge and skills in assessment. Foundational courses include: Human Development, Adult Psychopathology, Child Psychopathology, Psychopharmacology, Theoretical Foundations of Analytic Intervention, Theoretical Foundations of Behavioral Intervention, and Theoretical Foundations of Organizational Intervention. Practice-related courses during the first year include: Introduction to School Psychology, Cognitive Assessment, Systematic Observation and Interviewing, Child Behavioral Assessment, Child Personality Assessment, and Exceptional Children. During the second semester of the first year, a school psychology practicum introduces students to the various roles of the school psychologist, the school context, and provides opportunities to practice assessment skills.
The second year of training focuses on building knowledge and skill in the foundational area of research design, data analysis, and critical evaluation of research, and in the practice functions of direct and indirect intervention, including multidisciplinary team collaboration. Students take courses in Statistics and Research Design. They also take an additional foundations course, Philosophy and Systems of Psychology. Practice related courses include: Psychoeducational Intervention, Community Psychology, Consultation, Diversity, Learning Disabilities, and Professional Development. An elective provides the opportunity to begin to develop more in-depth knowledge and skill in a specialty area of practice. A year-long practicum provides opportunities to refine assessment skills, practice consultation skills, implement prevention programs and interventions, and participate in school-based decision-making regarding individual educational programs.
The third year of the Program focuses on developing knowledge and skill in systems level and organizational interventions. Students take a year-long sequence in Program Planning and Evaluation, as well as a course in Adult Learning and Training. The practicum experiences at this stage provide opportunities to engage in systems/organizational assessment and interventions and working with school administrators, and to develop in-depth skill in working with a special population, all within a particular program/practice approach.
Foundational knowledge courses present theory and research and also address applications to professional practice. Courses directly related to professional practice address the theoretical and empirical underpinnings of practice, as well as focusing on professional skill building. In this manner, science and practice are integrated throughout the curriculum.