The Future of School Psychology


Focus Group Summary

In preparation for the Futures Conference, a series of focus groups were held at the 2002 NASP convention in Chicago. School psychology practitioners, students, and trainers were asked to provide information in response to a series of targeted focus group questions. Over 100 school psychologists provided responses to the focus group questionnaire. Additionally we have collected responses from the focus group questionnaire on the Futures Conference website ( It should be noted that the opportunity still exists to provide input. Click on the above link to see a copy of the questionnaire and to contribute your views. Below is a summarized version of the responses. The complete compilation of the raw data may be downloaded as an Excel file (Please note: click on
the tabs on the botton left side of the Excel file---the tabs correspond to
individual questions on the focus group survey. Julia Rutely of The
University of Alabama compiled and categorized the focus group data

Academic Issues

  • promote quality instruction
  • accommodate diverse learner and meet variable needs
  • misplaced emphasis on teaching to the test (high stakes testing)
  • academic performance monitoring
  • increase evidence-based teaching practices (especially reading)
  • equal access to education (equity)
  • achieve balance of academic and social-emotional instruction
  • modify rigid age of entry point to recognize differences in readiness
  • prevention/early intervention

Mental Health Issues

  • public recognition of mental health as an area of need
  • availability of services (access)
  • early intervention/prevention
  • coordinated services/programs
  • school psychologist recognition as mental health provider
  • childhood depression
  • respond to crises
  • violence prevention
  • substance abuse
  • promote social skills

School Issues

  • funding
  • personnel shortages (teachers, principals, support personnel)
  • quality personnel
  • unfunded legislative mandates
  • create meaningful benchmarks (meaningful accountability)
  • high stakes testing
  • safety
  • developmentally appropriate practices

Family Issues

  • bring families to schools
  • build partnerships with families and schools
  • build trust/confidence in schools
  • community support of families
  • parenting skills
  • poverty
  • supports for working poor
  • adapt to new family configurations
  • supervision of children during non-school hours
  • help families access services
  • balance work and family; spending time with children

School Psychology Professional Issues

  • role expansion
  • change from eligibility to intervention focus
  • help others understand what we do
  • shortage - practitioners
  • shortage - trainers
  • shortage of available university graduate programs
  • increase pool of students interested in school psychology
  • skill deficits for expanded roles (trainers and practitioners)
  • practitioner shortages leads to overemphasis on assessment
  • use of evidence-based practices
  • better integration of research/practice (research on real needs)
  • adequate funding for graduate students
  • access to programs for less affluent students

Impact of Shortage

  • high student/practitioner ratios
  • unfilled openings
  • use of less qualified personnel
  • shift to clinical psychologists
  • role change to an emphasis on assessment without intervention
  • length of day has increased
  • increased stress levels for school psychologists
  • stains family/school collaboration
  • (about 25% of respondents said there was no shortage in their district)

Responses to School Psychologist Shortage

shift away from traditional assessment services to prevention/intervention models

  • increase number of school psychology graduate programs
  • expand existing training programs to accommodate more students
  • aggressively recruit prospective students (especially diverse students)
  • create awareness of school psychology among high school students
  • recruit international students
  • universities should return to "school" emphasis rather than pediatric/mental health
  • develop part-time/alternative programs for non-traditional students
  • use distance education technologies to expand training opportunities
    promote respecialization opportunities
  • encourage state/federal funding of training programs and students
  • explore junior or senior year entry to graduate programs
  • improve retention of current school psychologists
  • work to understand factors associated with retention
  • increase salaries/incentives
  • promote loan forgiveness programs for service to schools
  • lower entry level to school psychology
  • encourage development of assessment specialists
  • develop public relations campaign


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