During the first school-based practicum, taken in the second semester of the program, students are placed in one of our partner school districts. Activities include observation of a range of school structures and processes, such as regular education classes, special education classes, resource rooms, meetings and consultation sessions between school psychologists and teachers, meetings between school psychologists and parents, child study team meetings, meetings of the intervention and referral services team, and school-wide faculty meetings. Students also engage in psychological assessment activities and report writing.
During the second year practicum, students continue their placements in one of the partner school districts. They complete full psychological evaluations, participate in child study team meetings and intervention and referral services team meetings, engage in consultation with teachers and parents, and implement evidence-based interventions for individuals, and evidence-based prevention or intervention programs for groups.
During the third year of practicum, students may continue to work in the partner school districts or may choose a specialized practicum from one of the additional practicum settings. The goal of the third year of practicum is to refine professional practice skills, with an emphasis on systems and preventive interventions, and/or to develop advanced specialty skills. Those continuing their work in partner school districts will develop and implement intervention or prevention programs for small groups, classrooms or schools, and engage in the full range of services provided by practicing school psychologists. Those working in one of the additional practicum settings may develop advanced skills in working with populations such as autistic children, or families of children with developmental disabilities. They may develop advanced skills in providing a specific type of psychotherapeutic intervention such a cognitive-behavior therapy, or they may develop advanced skills in systems-level prevention in schools through a program such as the New Jersey Center for Character Education.
Practicum experiences are integrated with coursework beginning in the second semester of the program. The practicum experiences allow students to obtain an in-depth understanding of roles and functions of school psychologists and of the context of the school, and to increase their level of competence in professional practice through the delivery of school psychological services in a school setting. This is done in a sequential manner as described above. As students take professional practice courses, they are provided with opportunities in the practicum setting to use the skills learned in those courses, to refine skills learned in previously completed courses, and to integrate multiple skills in order to solve problems. Along with each practicum course and the individual supervision by doctoral level psychologists that is provided at the practicum site, students participate in a Group Supervision course for each semester of practicum. This course provides weekly group supervision for students by School Psychology Program faculty members. This supervision aims to provide input regarding student practicum work, to strengthen professional identity as a school psychologist and to understand and enhance the self as a mediating variable in the delivery of services.
Through this work, students develop initial competence in all basic aspects of the professional functioning of school psychologists, develop a data-based approach to professional problem solving, develop an understanding of the importance of using empirically supported interventions, learn to integrate the various aspects of school psychology practice to deal with problems of students in educational settings, and are exposed to a variety of school-based issues that impact the development of children and youth