School Psychology

What is School Psychology?

School Psychology is a specialty of professional psychology that is concerned with children, youth, families; learners of all ages; and the schooling process.  The basic education and training of school psychologists prepares them to provide a range of psychological diagnosis, assessment, intervention, prevention, health promotion, and program development and evaluation services with a special focus on the developmental processes of children and youth within the context of schools, families and other systems.   School psychologists  intervene to promote positive learning environments within which children and youth from diverse backgrounds  all have equal access to effective educational and psychological services that promote healthy development.  School psychologists conceptualize children’s development from multiple theoretical perspectives and translate current scientific findings to alleviate cognitive, behavioral, social and emotional problems encountered in schooling.

School psychologists are accountable for the integrity of their practice. They protect the rights of children and their families in research, psychological assessment and intervention. Their work reflects knowledge of federal law and regulations, case law, and state statutes and regulations for schools and psychological services. They appreciate the importance of the historical influences of educational, community, state, federal and organizational dynamics on academic, social and emotional functioning of children and youth in educational settings.

A few of the responsibilities of a School Psychologist include:

  • To know effective instructional processes

  • Understand classroom and school environments

  • Understand the organization and operation of schools and agencies

  • Apply principles of learning to the development of competence both within and outside school

  • Consult with educators and other professionals regarding cognitive, affective, social, and behavioral performance

  • Assess developmental needs and develop educational environments that meet those diverse needs

  • Coordinate educational, psychological and behavioral health services by working at the interface of these systems

  • Intervene to improve organizations and develop partnerships between parents, educators, and caretakers

School Psychologists in the Academic Setting

School Psychologists address many different difficulties within the Academic Setting including:

  • Educational and developmental problems related to school achievement and school adjustment
  • Social or interpersonal problems related to learning or behavior
  • Specific disabilities and disorders that affect learning, behavior or school-to-work adjustment
  • Chronic or acute situations of childhood and adolescence that influence learning or mental health, such as personal or school crises or mental disorders first noticed in infancy, childhood or adolescence
  • Adverse social conditions that threaten healthy development in school and community, such as community and school violence, juvenile delinquency, teenage pregnancy and substance abuse
  • Problems of instructional and learning environments that affect the functioning of the school age population

Methods and Services:

  • Assessment of cognitive abilities, achievement, social/emotional functioning, and developmental status
  • Use of interviews, observations and performance assessments to understand learning and behavior problems
  • Accountability for valid and reliable measures of behavior and treatment progress
  • Diagnostic assessments to support eligibility for and delivery of services within statutorily regulated contexts that integrate diagnostic information from other professionals to support recommendations for educational modifications and community services
  • Primary prevention programs to reduce the incidence of academic failure, school violence, sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy and programs to promote children’s well-being through more appropriate educational and classroom accommodations
  • Secondary prevention programs to assist students who have mild or transitory problems that interfere with school performance, such as poor peer relationships, learning or behavior problems in the classroom, and adjustment to adoption, death or divorce
  • Crisis intervention services that support children following natural disasters, violence, abuse, death or suicide
  • Consultation with teachers, parents, agency administrators and supervision of psychological services staff concerning children’s behavior and academic and social problems
  • Professional development programs for teachers
  • Design and direction of comprehensive and integrated service delivery systems
  • Consultation with physicians and other professionals concerning the school functioning and learning of children with disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning disorders, chronic illness, physical or genetic conditions, and substance abuse
  • Educational evaluation services including development of appropriate measures of child behavior and classroom contexts
  • Analysis of academic achievement using standardized tests, performance assessment, self reports and other appropriate methods
  • Evaluation of individualized educational plans
  • Observation and measurement of teacher and parent behaviors
  • Evaluation of instructional and organizational environments

For more information regarding our School Psychology programs and services offered, please visit our Programs and Fees page, email Dr. Kelli Sears at or call our office at (740) 400-4222.

Information summarized from the American Psychological Association website.  For more information regarding School Psychology, visit our Resources page.