Administration‎ > ‎

Psychological Services

child painting

What Is a School Psychologist?

A school psychologist is a trained professional certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to provide specialized services. School psychologists must have at least a Master's degree and 30 additional graduate credits (including an intensive internship) in school psychology. Many school psychologists have also earned doctorates in school psychology. To be permanently certified, they must also show competence during three years of supervised work and participate in continuing education programs yearly.

School psychologists receive special training in child development, learning processes, emotional and behavioral adjustment, and psychological and instructional assessment. School administrators, principals and teachers rely on school psychologists when planning educational decisions about children.

What Does a School Psychologist Do?

A school psychologist works in various ways to enhance children's school experience. The psychologist may work with children from pre‑school through age 21 and may:

  • Work with school teams that provide special support in the regular classroom to children who have not profited from the regular education program
  • Participate in the development and assessment of behavioral plans for students experiencing behavioral difficulties
  • Identify children who might need specially designed instruction
  • Help develop an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) for children receiving special education services
  • Suggest special techniques and materials to the teacher
  • Educate teachers on prevention efforts
  • Help schools select empirically-supported prevention and intervention programs
  • Participate in student assistance programs to help children who might have drug-related or emotional problems
  • Counsel students and parents regarding learning and behavior problems

School psychologists consult with counselors, administrators and others about children's learning and adjustment. Most important, the school psychologist will consult with the child's parents and teachers to understand his or her needs and help develop a plan to address them.

How Would a School Psychologist Evaluate a Child?

The school psychologist develops recommendations for children's education by talking with parents and teachers, as well as the child; observing the child in the classroom; using multiple approaches to assess learning and social skills including administering standardized psychological tests; assessing the way the child is benefiting from the current school curriculum; and reviewing reports (if any) from other professionals.

This information is shared with parents and the other members of the evaluation team (such as the teacher, school administrator and counselor). Otherwise, these records are confidential and will not be shared with anyone without parent permission. Together, the team tailors an educational program that is appropriate for the child. A report of the team's conclusions and recommendations is given to the parent at the conclusion of the evaluation process. No evaluation will be scheduled without informed, written parental consent.