Dynamic Program Prepares Students to Make a Difference
One of Baylor’s advertising slogans is “Above. Beyond.” — simple phrasing that finds a home in SOE’s School Psychology program.
“The School Psychology program at Baylor University has helped me realize the difference one person can make in the lives of children,” Kristen Mainor, second-year student, says.
Baylor’s 64-hour school psychology program leads to the Educational Specialist (EdS) degree. The program complies with the standards of the National Association of School Psychologists (NA SP), as well as the Texas State Board of Examiners (TSBE P). The Baylor program consists of two years of graduate study (58 semester hours) followed by an internship in the third year (6 semester hours). The program is conditionally approved by NA SP and will apply for full approval in September 2009.
The role of the school psychologist often is confused with two other fields in education — the school counselor and the educational diagnostician. While there are some similarities between the three disciplines, there are also several differences. For example, the school counselor typically provides counseling services for students as well as academic guidance for college at the high school level, while the educational diagnostician is trained to evaluate students suspected of having a learning or cognitive disability. The school psychologist also provides counseling services to students, but typically works with the more challenging cases such as students diagnosed with an emotional disturbance.
The school psychologist also evaluates students suspected of having a learning or cognitive disability — similar to the diagnostician — but also evaluates students suspected of having a behavior or emotional disorder.
“This program has given me the skills to serve a population that truly appreciates the help I can offer. I feel truly blessed to have found this career and daily strive to be an advocate for children by applying the knowledge and skills I have acquired from the Baylor School Psychology program,” says Christie Powers- Mitchell, a third-year student.
In addition to the counseling and evaluation roles, the school psychologist works from a prevention model in that they consult with teachers, parents, and administrators to create programs and opportunities for students to be successful prior to the need for an evaluation and subsequent placement in special education.
“After being here for a year, I’ve talked to other school psychology students from other programs and was amazed how different the programs could be (cohort size, teacher/student ratio, etc.). Baylor just feels like the perfect fit to me,” Ryan Burnett, second-year student, adds.
The program at Baylor averages 6–10 students in each cohort and participants receive a combination of theoretical and practical experiences during their first two years. This includes coordinating and implementing weekly social skills programs for students with autism spectrum disorders in the Baylor Autism Resource Center during their first year, and 8–10 hours of weekly practice in local public schools during their second year. In addition, many of the students complete research projects during their time in the program and have made numerous presentations at the Texas Association of School Psychologists and National Association of School Psychologists conferences.