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What is a School Psychologist?

by Dore Frances, M.A., founder of Horizon Family Solutions, LLC
A School Psychologist (SP) is a trained Psychologist who specializes in working with pre- and school-age children, adolescents, teachers and families. They work with all school personnel to help make education for students a positive and rewarding experience.

A SP administers and interprets intelligence tests; achievement tests, and completes social-emotional assessments on children ages' birth to 21.

In addition, SP are primarily responsible in assisting in making educational diagnosis' of Attention Deficit Disorder, Autism, Leaning Disabilities, Cognitive Deficits, Developmental Delays, Multiple Disabilities, and Behaviorally Disordered, etc., as mandated by federal law. Moreover, a SP is trained in individual and group counseling as well as crisis intervention.

A SP utilizes training to assist children in developing the capacity to be a capable, productive citizen who exceeds all expectations held for him or her by others.

A SP is highly trained in a variety of assessment techniques.

This includes the assessment of intelligence, achievement, personality, social skills, behavior, and learning styles.

In addition, a large portion of their time is spent assisting schools determining eligibility for special education services.

A SP is also trained in the area of consultation. This includes having knowledge of behavioral modification and classroom management techniques.

They spend a considerable amount of time giving alternatives to school personnel (teachers, parents, administrators) in regards to students learning, behavior, and child development.

In addition, a SP is often a liaison between mental health, community services, and parents.

Intervention and prevention is also an important part of a SPs daily responsibility. They often work one-on-one with parents and families to help them solve conflicts involving learning and adjustment.

Social skills training, behavioral modification, counseling (individual and group) and other strategies all work towards preventing learning and behavioral problems within the school setting. Because the majority of SPs are not trained teachers they bring a unique perspective to the field of education.

This perspective enables SPs to bring a different view to schools in research and planning. They can assist in evaluating the effectiveness of academic programs as well as the effectiveness of classroom or school-wide behavior/ learning approaches.

The most common place of employment is within Public or Private Schools. The typical SP in a public/private School has a Ed. S degree or it's equivalent (Master's Degree +30 credits).

The role of school psychologists and educational consultants in assessment is well established through the work of Horizon Family Solutions. While the assessment activities of school psychologists emphasize services to children and youth, usually within a school setting, the assessment activities of educational consultants frequently cover a wider age range. In general, assessment information is used to clarify concerns of clients, to plan programs or interventions and evaluate their effectiveness.

Both school psychologists and educational consultants may be involved in the assessment process with differing emphases and orientations that are complementary to each other. School psychologists often emphasize the use of quantitative approaches to measure ability and academic skills while educational consultants often utilize developmental as well as qualitative approaches to assess personality characteristics, interests, and aptitudes. The two approaches, when combined, can offer a more comprehensive picture of a student than either approach alone.

With the advent of Public Law 94-142 (the Education of All Handicapped Children Act) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), emphasis was placed on a multidisciplinary approach to assessment and placement activities for students referred for possible disabilities.

Multiple sources of information, multiple procedures and multiple settings are required in order to develop a comprehensive understanding of students' needs and abilities.

The basis for such an approach is collaboration among professionals including educational consultants, regular education teachers, special education teachers, administrators, pupil services personnel, and parents.

The increased focus on involving families in prevention and intervention programs offers educational consultants and school psychologists the opportunity to collaborate in a number of ways.

Within the school setting itself, a number of opportunities exist for educational consultants and school psychologists to work together.

The National Association of School Psychologists recognizes that the futures of children are affected by many factors that occur early in life.

Dore Frances, M.A., is an educcational consultant, childs right advocate, parent coach, specializing in working with troubled teens and their families in the United States, Canda, and abroad. See her site at: or contact her by phone at:(541) 312-4422, or email
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Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.


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