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Well-Being, Learning, and Achievement

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a school psychologist?
School psychologists are school-based mental health professionals trained in both psychology and education. School psychologists are committed to ensuring that every child learns in a safe, healthy and supportive environment.

How does one become a school psychologist?
At a minimum, school psychologists complete a master's degree and specialist's certificate of at least 60 graduate semester hours and participate in a year-long 1,200 - 1,500 supervised internship. School psychologists are certified by the Maryland State Department of Education and may become nationally certified (NCSP) by the National School Psychology Certification Board (NSPCB).

What do school psychologists study?
School psychologists training and course work provides them with the knowledge, skill, and ability to apply psychological, mental health and child development approaches within the schools. School psychologists are uniquely skilled in psychological assessment, learning strategies, behavior management, social skill development, motivation systems, and the identification of exceptionalities.

What do school psychologists do?
School psychologists use many different approaches to provide these core services: consultation, assessment, intervention, prevention, education, research and planning, and health care provision. They tailor their services to the particular needs of each child and each situation.

  • School psychologists help problem solve in order to provide healthy and effective alternatives to teachers, parents, and administrators about problems in learning and behavior, help others understand child development and how it affects learning and behavior, and strengthen working relationships between educators, parents and community services.
  • Assessment activities vary and can include a wide variety of techniques at an individual, group, and systems level to evaluate academic skills, learning aptitudes, personality and emotional development, social skills, learning environments and school climate, and eligibility for special education.
  • Prevention activities help families and schools to identify potential learning difficulties, design programs for children at risk of failure, provide parents and teachers with the skills to cope with disruptive behavior, help foster tolerance, understanding, and appreciation of diversity in the school community, and develop school-wide initiatives to make schools safer and more effective.
  • Intervention approaches include direct contact with children, families and school staff to help solve conflicts and problems in learning and adjustment, provide psychological counseling for children and families, provide social skills training, behavior management, and other strategies, and help families and schools deal with crises, such as separation and loss.
  • School psychologists educate families and staff through workshops and staff training activities that include but are not limited to the following topics:
    • effective problem solving and conflict resolution
    • teaching and learning strategies
    • social skills development
    • classroom management techniques
    • working with students who have disabilities or unusual talents
    • working with diverse populations
    • substance abuse
    • crisis management
  • School psychologists actively seek information about the results of their efforts and how they benefit students by research. They evaluate the effectiveness of academic programs, behavior management systems, and other services so as to generate new knowledge about learning and behavior. They use the results of their research to help schools continue to improve.
  • School psychologists focus on health care provision through collaboration with school and community-based personnel. They advocate for a comprehensive model of school-linked health services that will provide access to community supports and emphasize psychosocial wellness and health-related issues. They foster partnerships with parents and teachers to create healthy safe and supportive school environments.

Does every school have a school psychologist?
Every school has access to school psychological services but individual school psychologists may be responsible for providing these services to more than one school.

Do school psychologists only work with special education students?
Psychological services are available to all students.

How can I get in touch with my child's school psychologist?
Each school can provide contact information for you to get in touch with the school psychologist assigned to your child's school or program.

If I disagree with the results of a psychological evaluation what should I do?
If you believe that information in a psychological report is inaccurate, misleading, or a violation of a student’s civil rights, you are encouraged to first meet with the psychologist to try and resolve the disagreement.

If unsuccessful, you may contact the school administrator who will ask you to send a letter detailing why the information is inaccurate, misleading, or a violation of the student’s civil rights.

The school administrator will review the case, respond to the parent in writing, and include action steps to resolve the disagreement. If the outcome of the review is unsatisfactory to the parent, the parent/guardian can appeal the decision.

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