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1 School Psychology An Essential Public Service in Canada A Position Paper Draft November, 2012 Preface: This paper has been developed by a group of school psychology trainers and practitioners from across Canada who form the Canadian Psychological Ass Psychology. The intent of the document is: 1. To demonstrate why school psychology (the practice of psychology in public schools and other educational settings) is an essential public service, providing universally accessible mental health and learning promotion, and identification and intervention into problem areas before they become chronic; 2. To put forward a position on the credentials needed to be a school psychologist; 3. To discuss some of the challenges that school psychologists encounter while working in the public school system and to propose some guidelines and advocate for solutions to improve the delivery of services provided by school psychologists. Introduction: Psychologists in schools are an integral part of collaborative problem solving teams within their districts. They bring to the team their scientist-scholarpractitioner training, which emphasizes the need for evidence-based decision making, identifying a problem by quantifying it so that appropriate plans can be put in place and progress monitoring becomes a part of the solution. They have training in, and access to, restricted testing materials of increasing sophistication and relevance allowing them to provide and interpret the data needed to formulate a student profile of strengths and needs and to design effective, evidence-based interventions and progress monitoring strategies. 1 Position Paper, School Psychology: An Essential Public Service in Canada

2 Psychologists in schools provide expertise in mental health issues, program planning and evaluation, and system-wide prevention measures. In order to utilize fully the range of skills the psychologist brings to the educational community, equal emphasis must be placed on all the levels of service delivery which the psychologist is able to provide. While psychological assessment is a unique and essential function which only the psychologist can provide, it must not be the only role of the school psychologist that is utilized by a progressive school district. School psychologists in Canada follow the service delivery model described in Professional Practice Guidelines for School Psychologists in Canada (CPA, 2007). This model describes 5 levels of service delivery: student-focused indirect intervention; student-focused direct intervention; school-wide intervention; district/system-wide intervention; and research. Within each of these domains, continuing professional training and ethical responsibility are essential. The school psychologist constantly strives for a balance among a focus on primary prevention programs, systemic interventions, individual consultations, post-vention, and treatment for chronic and severe developmental problems. The breadth of practice speaks to the diversity of skills that the school psychologist brings to the educational system. In order for school psychologists working in the Canadian public sector to fulfill their roles effectively, several issues must be resolved that currently threaten the recruitment and retention of school psychologists in the school system. 1. Licensing Requirements for Psychologists Working in Public Schools in Canada Currently, several models for entry to psychological practice exist in Canada, including differences in degree (e.g., Masters vs Doctoral degrees granted by either faculties of Psychology or Education). As well, some provinces exclude certain types of psychology practice from oversight by a disciplinary regulatory body (e.g., public service positions, including school psychology). However, psychology in Canada is a self-regulating profession, and as such, each provincial regulatory body assumes responsibility for the professional practice of psychology within the province. It is essential that those working in psychology positions in the schools in Canada must be credentialed with the regulatory body for psychologists in the province in which they work in the same way that other professional psychologists in the province are. Oversight by the 2 Position Paper, School Psychology: An Essential Public Service in Canada

3 psychological regulatory body assures the public that the services being provided are safe and of sound quality. When working with the most vulnerable population in Canada, our children and youth, the importance of providing exemplary services is even more critical. 2. Working Conditions and Ethical Considerations for School Psychologists in the Public Schools in Canada School p Code of Ethics for Psychologists. Accordingly, they respect four core principles: Respect for the Dignity of Persons; Responsible Caring; Integrity in Relationships; and Responsibility to Society. School psychologists have a duty to honour the CPA Code of Ethics in their practice, and, as such, this Code would supersede any employer or client requests that might be in conflict with the principles of the Code, as well as specific practice standards outlined or adopted by regulatory bodies overseeing their practice. a. Appropriate Ratio of Psychologists to Students In order to ensure that school psychologists are able to perform all the functions expected of them by a school district in a timely and responsible fashion, an appropriate ratio of School Psychologists to students must be maintained students. When school psychologists are providing comprehensive and preventive services (i.e., evaluations, consultation, individual/group counseling, crisis response, behavioral interventions, etc.), this ratio should not exceed one school psychologist for every 500 to 700 students in order to ensure quality of student outcomes. Similarly, when school psychologists are assigned to work primarily with student populations that have particularly intensive special needs (e.g., students with significant emotional or behavioral disorders, or students with autism spectrum disorders), this school psychologist to student ratio should Model of Comprehensive and Integrated School Psychological Services (NASP, 2010). b. Appropriate Supervision in the Workplace Those working in the public sector typically experience two types of supervision: administrative supervision and professional supervision. 3 Position Paper, School Psychology: An Essential Public Service in Canada

4 Administrative supervision can be provided by other than someone in the same profession, and ensures adherence to agency mandates. However, professional supervision must be provided by someone of the same profession to ensure fidelity to the standards of the profession. A common situation in the public school system in Canada, however, has teacher-trained administrators providing both administrative and professional supervision in the workplace for both licensure candidates and for those who are licensed psychologists. This situation often leads to a misunderstanding of the professional roles and ethical responsibilities of the psychologist. It also leads to conflicts of interest and unnecessary limitations for the psychologist in trying to balance the needs of the client with the demands of the employer. Within school districts, licensure/certification candidates and licensed/certified psychological practitioners must be required to receive supervision by a licensed/certified psychologist who understands their roles and shares their professional and ethical code of conduct. School districts must support structures that allow psychologists to practice with professional autonomy and receive appropriate supervision as mandated by their regulatory body. c. Psychological/Psycho-Educational Reports, Storage, Access, Sharing One of the functions of a psychologist is to perform a variety of types of assessments. Such assessments normally are documented by written reports. Psychological/psycho-educational reports created by a school psychologist are written with the client in mind and are intended to provide the student, the stude and parents or legal guardians with s and challenges relating to school performance. These reports are intended to be written in language that is easily understood by adult readers and free of jargon or unrealistic recommendations. School psychological reports must support the development of plans and programs to assist students learning and functioning. Although a copy of a formal psychological/psycho-educational report written by a psychologist might be placed learning resource file or cumulative record, it cannot be released to a third party outside of the school district without both parent/legal guardian (or student, if 18 years of age or older and able to consent) and psychologist (where feasible) permission. As well, psychological/psycho-educational protected so as not to be available to anyone who might have access to the 4 Position Paper, School Psychology: An Essential Public Service in Canada

5 school or district files, although they should be available to classroom teacher each year. Findings from a psychological/psycho-educational report must never be shared with teachers or presented at case conferences by anyone other than the psychologist who wrote the report, or if unavailable, the psychologist currently assigned to that school. The exception to this situation might be if a psychological/psycho-educational report comes from another district as part of the student file when a student moves. The school psychologist in the receiving district may be asked to interpret the report for the new staff to school psychologist contacting the original psychologist to discuss the report and ensure clarity of understanding. Varying opinions exist as to how long files should be maintained and the length of time that student assessment data remains valid. Although maintenance of older reports for developmental reasons may be justified, reports older than two years should not be used for current planning for a student. An updated assessment, including a review of current student functioning and academic performance, is required to ensure the fidelity and relevance of the plan. Older reports can provide valuable developmental information and should be used as background information for assessment of current functioning. d. Psychological Test Usage School districts must ensure that only qualified individuals be allowed to purchase or administer Level C tests to students in the district. Test as those people with masters or doctoral degrees in psychology or education who have appropriate course preparation in psychometrics and psychological assessment. This would include intellectual and neuropsychological testing, as well as some psychosocial, personality, and behavioural measures. To allow non-qualified individuals to view, access, or use these tests jeopardizes test security, standardized administration procedures, and correct interpretation of the data obtained in the assessment, which results in an ethical violation and a disservice to the student. Such practices also may have implications in terms of civil liability and violation of jurisdictional law regulating the practice of psychology. 5 Position Paper, School Psychology: An Essential Public Service in Canada

6 e. Office Space As a condition of the Code of Ethics, school psychologists, like all psychologists, have a duty to protect client information. This protection would include the school psychologist having a private office to ensure secure telephone and face-to-face conversations with clients as well as a private and secure filing system for client records, including test protocols, reports, and other personal notes which cannot be shared with other district staff members. School psychologists have a particular responsibility to prevent inadvertent disclosure of private information, which can occur easily if they do not have adequate office or filing space, leaving confidential materials vulnerable to be seen by people walking by temporary work and storage spaces. 3. The need for a standard core curriculum in School Psychology graduate programs in Canada Canada recognizes core competencies for professional practice in psychology as delineated in the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA). This document was developed in discussions hosted by the Council of Provincial Associations of Psychologists (CPAP), of which CPA is a member, from 2001 to The MRA was adopted by all the Regulatory Bodies in Canada in response to the Agreement on Internal Trade in However, no standard core curriculum has been agreed upon for programs of psychology in Canada. In order to ensure consistent and comprehensive training of school psychologists in Canada, it would seem reasonable and wise to develop a standard core curriculum that matches the core competencies required for practice. Programs offering this standardized core curriculum would then be approved for purposes of accreditation. This practice is followed in other professions, and psychology would do well to explore the options. School psychology has an opportunity to be a pioneer in this standardized core curriculum development in Canada. Drawing from the International Standards for School Psychology (Appendix A) and the core competencies recommended by the Mutual Recognition Agreement (Appendix B), a standardized core curriculum for school psychology in Canada is suggested (see Appendix C). 6 Position Paper, School Psychology: An Essential Public Service in Canada

7 4. The need for Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) Accreditation of School Psychology programs and internships Accredited programs and internships are widely recognized and are much sought after by students. The recognition that the Canadian Psychological Association has granted accreditation to a program is a stamp of approval for the quality of that program. Training adequate numbers of school psychologists is a serious challenge in Canada. At present, only one doctoral program in school psychology has been accredited by CPA. No CPA-accredited internships in school psychology presently exist. The public will suffer from the lack of appropriately qualified mental health service providers in schools if this situation is allowed to continue. New programs and internships must be developed soon to meet the need arising from the flood of anticipated retirements of members from the present cohort of school psychologists. CPA has a clear role to play in helping to ensure that a high quality of psychological service continues to exist in schools. Given the points made above, universities require support to (1) establish more graduate training programs for potential school psychologists, (2) apply for accreditation for the programs which are currently in place, and (3) develop appropriate types and adequate numbers of internships for their students. Graduate school programs must be held to a high standard, and that is best accomplished through CPA accreditation of programs at all levels, assuming that they meet the requirements for core competencies in their curricula (see Appendices A, B, and C). 7 Position Paper, School Psychology: An Essential Public Service in Canada

8 References: Canadian Psychological Association. Code of Ethics for Psychologists, 3 rd Edition Canadian Psychological Association. Enhancing the Experience of Children and Canadian Psychological Association. Mutual Recognition Agreement Canadian Psychological Association. Professional Practice Guidelines for School Psychologists in Canada Guide.pdf Canadian Psychological Association. The Role of Psychology in Canadian Schools: The Contribution of School Psychologists National Association of School Psychologists. Model of Comprehensive and Integrated School Psychological Services Position Paper, School Psychology: An Essential Public Service in Canada

9 APPENDIX A: Details of General Model: School Psychology Curriculum * A. Coursework in Core Knowledge of Psychology 1. Developmental Psychology including child, adolescent, and life-span development. 2. Psychology of Learning and Cognition and Educational Psychology including the influences of motivation, reinforcement, memory, attention, and perception on learning academic and other school-related behaviors; learning styles and strategies; and development of critical thinking skills. 3. Social Psychology including contextual influences on behavior and development, attitude and value formation, group dynamics, cross-cultural psychology, parenting behavior, school-community relations, teacher-student relations, and issues of class, race, ethnicity, and gender. 4. Psychology of Personality including motivation and emotions, personal and social adjustment, child and adolescent psychopathology, vocational choice, and psychology of exceptional children ( e.g., mental retardation, learning disability, motor or sensory impairment, gifted). 5. Biological Bases of Behavior including biological bases of development, neuropsychology, as well as physiological psychology, elementary psychopharmacology, and health promotion. B. Coursework in Measurement, Research Design, and Statistics including basic and advanced levels of measurement and evaluation, quantitative and qualitative methods, research and experimental design, and program evaluation; case studies; and action research. C. Coursework on Professional Issues including the history, conceptions, and perceptions of School Psychology as well as legal, ethical, and professional guidelines for services; and the organization and administration of School Psychology services. D. Coursework in Specialty Knowledge Domains 1. Educational and Psychological Assessment and Interventions including the use of various assessment methods that draw upon information from various sources to assess various traits; recognition that the identification of viable interventions is one goal of assessment; knowledge of instructional and remedial techniques including those for individual, small and large groups, and systems 9 Position Paper, School Psychology: An Essential Public Service in Canada

10 interventions; assessment of individual and contextual characteristics and recognition of possible reciprocal influences. 2. Consultation including that with parents and other family members; teachers and other school personnel; agency and other systems consultation. 3. Educational Foundations including the history of education; its political, organizational, and social structures. 4. Special Needs of Exceptional Learners including those with learning disabilities, mental retardation, neuropsychological impairments, emotional and social maladjustment, attention deficit disorders, and multiple disabilities. 5. School-based Interventions including behavioral, emotional and social interventions involving humanistic, behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, social learning and other interventions; primary and secondary prevention; crisis intervention; individual and family counseling; parent education; supervision; case management; stress management; in-service teacher training. 6. Organizational and Program Development including program planning, curriculum and instructional development an evaluation, program coordination. E. Practica including field experience under School Psychology faculty and on-site supervision to supplement and apply knowledge and skills acquired initially through coursework. F. Internship including on-site supervised practical and didactic experiences designed to integrate understandings acquired in School Psychology coursework and to develop professional qualities, including professional decision-making abilities as well as collaboration and leadership abilities. G. Independent Research, including the collection, analysis, and interpretation of quantitative and qualitative data for purposes of correctly understanding as well as furthering the knowledge base of psychology and the specialty of School Psychology. *from International Guidelines for the Preparation of School Psychologists (ISPA) 10 Position Paper, School Psychology: An Essential Public Service in Canada

11 APPENDIX B: Details of Core Competencies required by the Mutual Recognition Agreement of the Canadian Psychological Association for licensing of psychologists in Canada: 1. Interpersonal Relations The work of school and clinical child psychologists occurs in the context of interpersonal relations (parent-child, spouses, teacher-student). Psychologists must be able to establish and maintain a constructive working alliance with their clients, and be sensitive to the needs of individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. 2. Assessment and Evaluation A competent professional psychologist draws on diverse methods of evaluation, determining which methods are best suited to the task at hand. 3. Intervention and Consultation The competent professional psychologist engages in activities that promote, restore and/or enhance positive functioning and a sense of well being in clients through preventative, developmental and/or remedial services. Professional psychologists accept their obligations, are sensitive to others and conduct themselves in an ethical manner. The competent psychologist has the skills necessary to conduct and evaluate scientific research. 11 Position Paper, School Psychology: An Essential Public Service in Canada

12 APPENDIX C: Cross-reference of Model Curriculum with Core Competencies General Model: School Psychology Curriculum * from International Guidelines for the Preparation of School Psychologists (International School Psychological Association) Core Competencies required by the Mutual Recognition Agreement of the Canadian Psychological Association for licensing of psychologists in Canada A. Coursework in Core Knowledge of Psychology 2. Assessment and Evaluation B. Coursework in Measurement, Research Design, and Statistics C. Coursework on Professional Issues D. Coursework in Specialty Knowledge Domains 2. Assessment and Evaluation 1. Interpersonal Relations 2. Assessment and Evaluation 3. Intervention and Consultation 1. Interpersonal Relations 2. Assessment and Evaluation 3. Intervention and Consultation E. Practica 1. Interpersonal Relations 2. Assessment and Evaluation 3. Intervention and Consultation F. Internship 1. Interpersonal Relations 2. Assessment and Evaluation 3. Intervention and Consultation G. Independent Research 2. Assessment and Evaluation 12 Position Paper, School Psychology: An Essential Public Service in Canada

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