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School Psychologist

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by KatBrainGeek, Jan 24, 2008.

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  1. aagman01

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    They do normally qualify for tenure and related benefits that regular teachers get. As for moving around, it can be quite stable (like teaching). However, one challenge is that it is quite common to be assigned to multiple schools. I have known SP folks who regularly are assigned to 3 schools per year, so they are working at 3 different sites per week. I even had one friend who was assigned 4 schools. While I think being assigned to two schools can be good in some ways (different task/duties/environment), 4 gets to be a bit much. With that said, I also have SP friends who are only assigned to one school.
  2. FadedC

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    Well I can't speak for CA, but I know of specialist degree school psychologists in NYC who make 6 figures.

  3. aagman01

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    Really? I thought the NYC pay scale for school psychs started at 60,000 and maxed in the upper 90s for phds?



  4. FadedC

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    Well I know there are definitely specialist degrees who make more then that although I don't know what their salary breakdown is. Keep in mind that there are stipends and summer contract work and that many in NYC do not work for public schools. The APA salary survery confirms that it's not at all uncommon for highly experienced school psychologists to report salaries significantly above the high 90s.

  5. urbanpsych

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    *Yes, psychs usually have the same job perks as teachers, as far as tenure

    *I hardly know any SP's who have just one school. It they do, it is usually a huge high school or something with over 1,000 kids. It used to be that most psychs had 2 schools, but with the economy, I have been seeing a lot more psychs at 3 schools. All the psychs I know work in one district.

    And the 70-90k thing, that is for MA level psychs. Having a PhD doesn't get you a lot of extra pay in the world of public schools - maybe 2-3k more per year.
  6. aagman01

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    I thought the pay difference was minimal, similar to what you stated (maybe 2-3k, sometimes even less).

    However, the findings put together by Curtis et. al. would say differently
    http://www.nasponline.org/about_sp/salaries2004_2005.pdf
    They found a daily mean pay rate of $287 for MA/EDS vs. $350 for PHD .
    The data was gathered among school psychs working in the schools.
    That $63 per day difference works out to about $11,970 difference over the course of a 190 day contract year (which was the mean work year according to the survey).


    Last edited: Jan 2, 2012
  7. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    It is worth exploring what degree your school district(s) tend to hire, as some lean more towards Specialist-level, while others lean more towards Ph.D. I wouldn't recommend an MS degree because many school systems seem to be opting for Specialist as the entry level (because they have enough people to fill the jobs). That's just my 2 cents from what I have heard from a few friends who are school psychologists (FL, NY, and NJ).
  8. FadedC

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    The specialist degree and the MS degree are the same thing. There are only 2 degrees in school psychology, specialist or PhD. However the specialist degree does not have a consistant name and may be called a MA, a MS, an EDS, a PD or something else depending on what school offers it.But regardless of the name, they are all the same degree (specialist) and require the same amount of training.

  9. Therapist4Chnge

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    Not exactly.

    The MS, MS + certificate, Ed.S, Psy.S., or Ph.D. training is very confusing. The point of my post was to differentiate between the <60 credit programs, which are typically MA/MS programs, and those which meet the NASP recommended minimum requirements of at least 60, which are often MS+ or Ed.S / Psy.S. Some states (many districts) and the people in charge of hiring will go by the NASP recommendations.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2012
  10. psychtime101

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    Though I have read a lot on this forum over the years, this is the first time I am posting. As a school psych student, my understanding is that very few programs exist that are less than the specialist degree. Many programs, however, simply refer to them as masters programs. Some programs may have you complete an MA and then an advanced certificate, but combined they meet requirements for a specialist degree. I know that in the the northeast, a specialist degree is needed for employment in public schools. Recently, many more schools have are now NASP. If you want to work in a public school setting, I would suggest that a NASP approved program at either the the masters (or specialist level shall we say level) or doctorate.
  11. FadedC

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    As the previous poster said, many specialist degree programs just call themselves MA programs. You can't really go by the name of the degree, that means nothing, which as you say is very confusing. Either way someone should definitely only go for a degree that meets NASP guidelines regardless of whether the degree is called a MA or something different.
  12. urbanpsych

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    I don't know about everywhere, but in CA a PhD it doesn't get you much more money...which is why I think most school psychs are not PhD level. This is just my experience on the West Coast. It may be different elsewhere.
  13. aagman01

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    FadedC is correct. There are no differences. You can find masters programs that award the degree with 70+ credits, or EDS programs that are closer to 60 credits. And vise-versa. There is no difference. To clarify one misstatement posted previously, any NASP program MUST be at least 60 credits. This is REGARDLESS of the type of degree (i.e. MS, MA, M.ED, ED.S, etc.).

    NASP recognizes all sub-doctoral level programs that meets its standards for accreditation as "Specialist-level" and recognizes all doctoral level programs that meet its accreditation standards as "Doctoral". A "specialist" program, according to the NASP accreditation standards, require "The program shall include at least 60 graduate semester hours or the equivalent, at least 54 hours of which are exclusive of credit for the supervised internship experience."

    Here is a link to the NASP accreditation requirements http://www.nasponline.org/standards/finalstandards.pdf

    To make matters more confusing, every state has different requirements. Some states require this NASP minimum, some states require fewer credits, and some more. Some states require a "specialist degree" specifically, others require a "masters" degree. When this happens, the applicant must prove "equivalence". Only about 2 dozen states recognize the NASP accreditation. In some ways, getting recognized and certified as a school psychologist in a state can be comparable to licensure as a psychologist (although, overall, I do NOT think it is as difficult).

    It is confusing. Some programs only award a masters degree. Some only an EDS. Others award both a masters and an EDS (such as a masters after the first 30 or so credits, and then the EDS after completion of more advanced courses and internship). Still others call the degrees something entirely different (e.g. Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS). To further add to the confusion, some programs award a masters of science, a masters of arts, or a masters of education. It would be nice if NASP set some sort of descriptive standard for the degree. They could state something around the effects that any NASP certified program must award a masters degree or must award a masters + EDS degree or something to that sort.

    Like FadedC mentioned - look for the NASP accredition if you are going sub-doctoral level for school psych.



    Last edited: Jan 2, 2012
  14. Therapist4Chnge

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    I'm not sure there has been a better argument for why the term "psychologist" needs to be fully protected and only used for doctorally-trained clinicians. The fact that an MS + certificate qualifies is frustrating to say the least.
  15. FadedC

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    Well at the end of the day it's only confusing when you have to explain to perspective students or people in online forums that all these degrees really mean the same thing. In the professional world people just care if your a state certified school psychologist or not and what your degree is called doesn't really come up. I can understand the position of wanting to limit the title psycholist to doctoral level people, but I'm not how that issue relates to the fact that some call the 3 year school psych degree a MS+ while others call it something different.

  16. Therapist4Chnge

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    It is a red flag to me that it *is* so confusing to students, let alone the general public. The general public knows that a lawyer has a doctorate, a physician has a doctorate, and they know a psychologist has a doctorate....whether they are a forensic psychologist, neuropsychologist, clinical psychologist, etc. The general public hears 'psychologist' and believes them to be doctorally-trained. This is problematic because "school psychologist" can have an MS + certificate, Ed.S./Psy.S, or Psy.D/Ph.D. Someone who completes an MA degree and then a certificate receives a far different training than someone who completes a Ph.D. program in school psychology...yet they have the same title. Most states limit who can practice independantly outside of the school setting because they recognize a difference in training and scope of practice.

    Titles matter and their associated scope of practice matters. Look no further than to "school neuropsychologists", a new title (with no legal standing) that has been created to further muddy the waters. http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=879667
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2012
  17. audchik

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    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that Ph.Ds and PsyDs are the only ones who can do private practice since they are the only licensed psychologists. Regardless of what the general public thinks, isn't it true that you can't do private practice with a specialist or masters degree anyway? So the scope of practice isn't really the issue... it's just the title. I don't see why the title matters if the scope of practice is protected...
  18. Therapist4Chnge

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    That is not correct. From the NASP website:

    It is absolutely a scope issue.

    As for title issues...their use of "masters-level psychologist" is exactly why it is an issue of scope and practice, as it uses previously defined terminology differently. It is akin to a physicial assistant wanting to drop assistant and instead use Associate Physician.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2012
  19. audchik

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    Interesting. What would the license even be called? I don't think this is possible in CA, is it?

    Edit: Apparently it is possible in CA. Kinda:

    Q: Can I consult or have my own practice with my school psychology credential?

    A: No. In California your credential is issued by credentialing for use in the schools, not private practice. However, you may become a Licensed Educational Psychologist after meeting the licensing requirements.
    http://www.caspwebcasts.org/new/ind...nt&view=article&id=57&Itemid=124#_Toc69716091
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2012
  20. FadedC

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    Well again, all those degree names you give are all the same thing....specialist degrees. A school psychologist can have a specialist degree or a doctoral degree.That part really isn't all that complicated, even to the general public (who rarely have any occasion to come into contact with a school psychologist in the first place). I'm also not entirely sure that the general public is as up on what implied education is associated with what psychological title as you think they are. Certainly many of the people I know are not.

    But anyway I think a lot of people in the school psych profession (myself included) would still agree that it would have been better if a different title then school psychologist had been used at the beginning for specialist level practioners. However now that the specialist level school psychologist title has been in place for longer then many posters here have been alive, it's a much more complicated issue. It's not something I see changing anytime soon.

  21. psychtime101

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    Yes, having different degree names for the School Psychologist degree sub-doctoral level is confusing. However, I believe this happens because different schools award different degrees in general, depending on where the program is located. Is it in a school of education, graduate studies or behavioral health? Sometimes this accounts for the differences.
    All in all, it is safe to say that regardless of MA/EDM/EdS/CAGS etc, the degree means the same thing if it is from a NASP approved school psychology program. PhD level training is different and you can have a PhD in school psychology, clinical psychology, counseling psychology etc.
    Unless a state allows for masters level psychologists to be in independent practice, than school psychologists are restricted to schools or other agencies that will take sub-doctoral level training. Many of these school psychologists that I have met are quick to say that they cant do independent practice, nor do they want to practice outside their scope; they are not trying to be anything they are not. They may be calling themselves a school psychologist which I realize some want to be a protected term, but they are not calling themselves Dr. or putting PhD at the end of their name. What about developmental psychologists? They have PhDs, but cant practice, should they not say they are a psychologist?
    Masters level's therapists in some states can work independently and be licensed at that level. While they cant call themselves psychologists, I have found many people to be unaware of the differences of psychologists and therapists.

    Sometimes I think we in the field think about this a lot more than the lay person about such issues.
  22. FadedC

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    It's also important to note that at least according to the APA Model Licensure Act, the title school psychologist can only be used while working in an actual school. Even if a specialist degree school psychologist was able to conduct private practice, they would not be able to use the title school psychologist while doing so.

  23. psychtime101

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    good point FadedC
  24. aagman01

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    APA went through all this about two years ago, when they ended up extending the exemption for the title "school psychologist" for use by sub-doctoral folks working in the schools. One of the biggest hurdles in removing the exemption revolves around state board of education. Most state boards specifically refer to school psychologists in defining the position, requirements, etc. Changing the title would have resulted in an array of procedural difficulties at the state level.

  25. FadedC

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    That's my understanding as well. It's not such a simple matter as changing the title and everyone going back to doing what they were doing before. It would require a comprehensive rewriting of state laws in order to ensure that specialist degree school psychologists would be able to continue doing their jobs after losing their exemption. This is (at least to my understanding) one of the main reasons why APA backed down from reccomending the removal of the exemption, and why the exemption is unlikely to be removed anytime in the near future.

  26. Pragma

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    Interesting - when was the exemption initially put into place?
  27. FadedC

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    Well the actual APA exemption was put into place in 1987. However from what I can tell, non doctoral school psychologists had been around for a long time before that (and so were state laws related to them). That was just the date when the APA officially decided to recognize them.

  28. Pragma

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    I always assumed that a school psychologist had a doctoral degree. Scary...
  29. aagman01

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    If I recall the data correctly, about 50% of phd school psychs hold positions in schools. And if I recall correctly, about 15% of school psychs have a phd. Therefore, I would "guesstimate" somewhere between 5% and 10% of school psychologists working in the schools hold phds, and 90-95% are sub-doctoral (e.g. EDS/Masters, whatever).

  30. FadedC

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    Well that's the whole point of the exemption. School psychologists who have a doctoral degree have no need of an exemption.

  31. Pragma

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    Right- this is all news to me today. I never realized that an exemption had existed or that "school psychologists" did not, in most cases, have a doctorate degree.

    Disappointing and scary, particularly if our first line of defense for detecting LD and other developmental problems is coming from folks without a doctorate or a postdoctoral assessment specialization, which would seem like a minimal standard to make a diagnosis in a school.
  32. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    The public also assumes this, which is the problem. If the APA had a lobby like the AMA, nursing, or social work...this would be a non-issue.

    First and usually only line of defense since only a small % of cases actually make it a neuropsychologist or similar. I can't tell you how many cases of ADHD I've seen that were actually something else completely. I saw
  33. FadedC

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    Well all of the complaints I've seen have been around whether it is misleading for a specialist level practioner to use the title school psychologist. Few people debate whether a specialist degree level school psychologist is actually qualified to do their job in the school.

    I'm a little curious now about what you thought we were talking about if you didn't realize that there were specialist level school psychologists. None of this discussion would be remotely relevent if all practiioners were doctorate level.
  34. psychtime101

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    My understanding is that school psychologists working in schools cannot diagnose, they only classify students. ADHD is never formally diagnosed, but disguised under the OHI classification. Schools themselves want to limit the amount of testing done because of time constraints. I do find that school psychologists, even at the masters level, do have a broad sense of testing including cognitive and academic and depending on the school some social/emotional or neuropsych. The point of testing in the schools is really to assess for a classification, related services and/or response to intervention. In addition to a good backbone of testing, they know a lot about academic interventions, school related counseling and how to be advocates for students in schools.
    This whole debate seems so silly. Are there are a significant number of psychology PhD people who are looking for jobs in schools but cant because of the specialist level school psychologist?
    im not sure why so many people are giving such a hard time to a group of professionals who just want to help and are practicing within their scope.
  35. Pragma

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    I assess adults, but I find it hard to imagine that someone without significant assessment training could adequately diagnose and differentiate various developmental disorders in children. But as that is not my area of expertise, I'll defer to the pediatric experts here on that one. Given the time and resource limitations within schools, I would hope that master's level school professionals would know when it is appropriate to refer to someone with more training.

    The use of the term psychologist by non-doctoral professionals is quite bothersome.
  36. Pragma

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    I am aware that not all practioners have doctorates. I just assumed that anyone called a "psychologist" did have a doctorate. Since I don't work in schools, I am surpised that someone who does not have a doctorate degree can call themself a psychologist to a parent.
  37. psychtime101

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    They say they are the school psychologist. And since they are not Dr. X, most parents figure out or ask. I worked in schools with school psychologists and this was never an issue. Parents didnt really care either way and everyone who worked in the school also knew if they were phds or not so could clarify. The scope of practice is significantly more limited in schools, it doesnt require a doctoral degree. If schools had a new name for the school psychologist it would perhaps be helpful, but they dont. I think the term psychologist is used because it best resembles what they do- testing and counseling. Again, it seems like we have confusion because we care and most parents and people dont think about it at all.
  38. FadedC

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    A psychologist working in a school generally should not be doing much formal diagnosis, regardless of whether they are doctoral or specialist level. That's not the purpose of a school psychologist. They are more there to assess why a child may be having trouble learning and to make adjustments to better serve the child. In doing so they may form an opinion about whether a child may be autistic, or have ADHD but it is not their job to formally diagnosis it.
  39. Pragma

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    I know, but it seems weird for assessment-oriented doctoral level clinical psychologists, who are told by insurance companies that they will not cover testing for learning disabilities, as those diagnoses are handled by the school psychologist. But that is another matter entirely...
  40. aagman01

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    EdS students in my school psych program complete 4 assessment classes in total. They complete cog assessment, educational assessment, psychoed (combining the cog and education), and a behavioral/personality assessment class. I compare this with the 1 assessment course that is required for the phd program in counseling psychology in the same department. Would I rather have a school psych EdS testing my child for LD classification over a counseling psychologist (assuming they were both trained within my department) - yes. You know what they say about making broad generalizations.....


  41. Therapist4Chnge

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    While they shouldn't do formal diagnosis, many do. It is hard because the school system will often lean on their school psychologists to take on far more than should be expected, typically because they don't want to pay an outside person to do the evaluation. Teachers want answers, parents want their child fixed, etc. My frustration is that a diagnosis implies that other issues are ruled out.
  42. FadedC

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    Yeah the difference is even more extreme in my program. Our specialist degree students take cognitive assessment, 2 classes in personality assessment, curiculum based assessment, multi-battery assessment and non biased assessment. Several of their other classes also feature significant assessment elements. Meanwhile the PhD counseling students only have 1 required assessment course.

  43. Therapist4Chnge

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    I have a hard time believing this; is it an APA-acred program? In my program we had individual courses in intelligence assessment, objective assessment, projective assessment, an interviewing & behavioral assessment class, etc. Then you can add in elective classes that utilize assessment, and you have a pretty robust training. Even with all of that aside, I think the difference in the training approaches between doctoral and non-doctoral programs is really worth exploring in more depth.

    Doctoral programs tend to focus on activities outside of the classroom, and treat the classes as a place to cover the basics. B = Ph.D. Students are also involved in assessment work during their research duties, TA duties, on practica, etc. Assessment training is also woven into other classes. Stats classes taught to aspects of test development, diversity classes talked about reference groups for norming, psychopathology classes taught to personality assessment, etc. Training is the full-time job. In contrast, SP programs are typically very classroom focused. Students aren't typically expected to be actively engaged in research and classroom responsibilities, so the classroom learning has to be more focused.

    If I have a child in a school and I thought there was a problem, I'd want them to talk to a school psychologist. SPs are in the best position to provide a more immediate intervention than an outside referral, assuming their district lets them out of their office long enough to see kids and not just test them. Evaluation by the school psychologist is a great first step, though diagnosis should not happen following a typical educational assessment.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012
  44. FadedC

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    Well note that you are/will be a clinical psychologist and not a counseling psychologist. The counseling program at my school is APA acred, and the amount of required assessment training they recieve is minimal, either in class or outside of it (meanwhile specialist degree school psych students do recieve a significant amount of assessment training outside of class in their practica). Obviously though counseling doctoral students in my program do recieve a tremendous amount of counseling training, and some may choose to take additional assessment classes or field experiences.

    I do have to correct my original statement though, because I believe that counseling phd students in my school take psychometrics alongside school psych students. So if we count that as an assessment class then that would be 2 assessment classes for them.

  45. FadedC

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    Whoops, I downloaded their handbook, and they list a total of 3 required assessment courses (I hadn't viewed adult psychopathology as being as assessment course). So the difference is not as great as I stated, although specialist degree school psych students at my school do still get about double the number of assessment classes, and generally significantly more assessment field work as well.

  46. Therapist4Chnge

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    I came from a clinical program, though based on what I've seen in practice, the above sounds atypical of counseling programs. Anecdotally, 5 of the 7 interns I trained with were from counseling programs...and they all came in with pretty solid assessment backgrounds.

    I think you are under-estimating the training differences between doctoral and non-doctoral programs. Classroom learning is not the priority at most programs. Students are given a lot of opportunities to be mentored outside of the classroom, and I think this is where the most important training happens. Reading journal articles and writing reports are a given, but the other stuff is what really mattered. I had a standing appointment for coffee with one of my mentors and review data and drafts, I'd get together with another TA and score assessments, and I'd crunch data with my research group...all of which would happen outside of the classroom. Field work (practica) was in addition to all of this, as is internship, post-doc, etc. Classes are just one part of the learning, not the majority of the learning.
  47. Pragma

    Pragma

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    Doesn't sound like a good PhD program. Is it accredited?

    I am not trying to bash master's level educational psychology professionals. Obviously they are highly skilled and have the best vantage point to intervene at the school level. But there is only so much you can learn in the brief period of a master's program. I was in an assessment-heavy clinical PhD program and have gone on for 2 postdoctoral years to specialize further, doing 100% assessment. I still am learning new things about LD. I have a hard time believing someone with much less training and experience could do comprehensive testing well. From what I hear from folks on this forum, the limits of training for diagnostics appear to be well established for the profession, which sounds just as it should be.

    It is hard enough to read horrible reports that fail to look at important testing nuances and come to terrible conclusions from doctoral level folks that clearly practice beyond their level of competence. To see a shift towards having people with less training take on more diagnostic responsibility is frustrating as someone who is trying to take all necessary training steps to protect the public and ensure competence. it sounds like school psychology programs recognize these limits and provide excellent training without expecting students to practice beyond their competence when they graduate.
  48. aagman01

    aagman01

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    Yes, every rating I have seen puts the counseling program at my university in the top 10 nationally. There are some counseling folks who take additional assessment courses in school or clinical psych, but many go on only with the 1 course. Many in the counseling program follow a post-modern perspective, and look upon assessment in a pejorative manner. So, again, yes, there are certainly times I would prefer a school psych eds person over a phd psychologist for assessment/classification.



  49. FadedC

    FadedC

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    Well specialist degree students spend a lot of time being mentored outside of their classrooms too. Classroom work is only a part of their training as well, they also get most of their training through field work and interaction with other professionals. I think you may be over-estimating that difference. Being in a doctoral program and working side by side with specialist degree students, I can see the difference hands on.

    As for counseling training, the question isn't whether a counseling student has the ability to get a solid assessment background. That is clearly the case. People from any program can get training beyond what is required. The question is what is baseline for the degree.

  50. aagman01

    aagman01

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    repeated...

    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012

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