School Psychology for the 21st Century
(Nearly!) 100 Roles of a School Psychologist
Centennial Faculty Guest Blog
By Dr. Julie K. Ivey
School Psychology is a specialty of professional psychology that focuses on the science and practice of psychology with children and families, learners of all ages, and the schooling process. It also is consistently ranked as one of the best social service jobs in the United States by U.S. News and World Report.
Do you know what a school psychologist is? If so, you either are one, or you are friends with one. If not, don’t worry, because this is a question many people ask. We’re hoping this blog can help everyone better understand just some of the hundreds of roles a school psychologist fills!
The role most commonly associated with school psychologists is that of an assessor. School psychologists are trained to deliver psychoeducational assessments to determine student strengths and needs. Information from these assessments helps make decisions to support and encourage student development in their academics. School psychologists-in-training develop relevant skills through coursework and practical experience along with cognitive and academic assessment.
Roles such as counselor, support group facilitator, and psychological evaluator are a few other ways that school psychologists help students flourish socially and emotionally in schools. Here at Baylor, educational graduate students in the School of Education's School Psychology program take classes in counseling and social emotional assessment, and get practical experiences helping students at schools around the Waco area. The school psychologist at your school is not only trained to provide services such as counseling and social skills training, but they likely truly enjoy it. In schools all around the country, school psychologists are working tirelessly to help students with mental health needs.
Schools serve children with diverse needs, and school psychologists meet these needs with a unique set of skills. Other roles a school psychologist might fill include behavior interventionist and educational consultant. The coursework for the Baylor School Psychology program includes classes covering topics such as behavioral interventions and consultation. Both of these courses train students to be equipped and to provide resources for their schools regarding how to approach maladaptive behaviors in a way to reduce or eliminate them. These classes provide hands-on experience along with a giant “tool box” of evidence-based interventions to help future school psychologists better assist their teachers.
Another role that a school psychologist might take on is as a data analysis expert and problem solving team member. Baylor does an excellent job of training future school psychologists through courses and hands-on training for analyzing data and making necessary decisions from the data collected. Throughout schools, many programs (such as Response to Intervention) exist to identify students struggling early, allowing necessary interventions to be put into place to help mediate these concerns. School psychologists hold the necessary skills required to analyze data to determine whether students are making adequate progress towards grade-level standards. If they are not, school psychologists assist with intervening to provide the student with appropriate supplemental support.
School psychologists play a huge role as a crisis prevention team member and response team member. Whether it be natural disasters, lockdowns, or any other event that puts the school at risk, school psychologists are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to promote the ability of children and youth to cope with traumatic or unsettling events. School psychologists can promote school safety through workshops or assemblies that address issues such as bullying or school safety, and they can put together crisis plans to equip teachers with the knowledge of what to do in certain events.
As you can see, school psychologists have a wide range of skills and expertise, and are in schools to help ensure success for all children. So, next time you run into a school psychologist, say “Hello” and be encouraged in knowing there are many different people fighting in many different ways for a high-quality education for all students! - with Mitra Edmisten, Natasha Hunt, Lauren Gourgues, Jacy Latta, Kelsey McCarty, Becca Stayton and Dharmisha Tailor
Julie Ivey, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Educational Psychology Department and a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology. She supervises School Psychology graduate students in public schools who work directly with children and students in the community. She has many publications and state and national presentations in the area of developmental disabilities. Dr. Ivey is the founder of the Baylor Autism Resource Clinic (BARC), a part of the Baylor Center for Developmental Disabilities, and serves on the Health and Human Services Commission Policy Council for the state of Texas.