Information for SSP Applicants
The WCU School Psychology program is recognized as an approved training program by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). Our program is based on a child advocacy model in which the needs of the child are at the center of all activities engaged in by the school psychologist. Our students are trained to facilitate growth in the development, behavior, and learning of children of all ages through a wide range of activities including assessment and intervention as well as consultation with teachers and parents. This training is based on an ecological and systems-level perspective in which multiple levels of environmental factors (e.g., family, school, community) are considered in influencing the development of the child) and focuses on a cognitive-behavioral orientation toward treatment. Additionally, an understanding of diversity and individual differences in child development is emphasized.
The WCU School Psychology program adheres to the Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity Policy of the National Association of School Psychologists.
Throughout this program, students are provided with many diverse opportunities to apply the knowledge they acquire through coursework out in the field. This includes involvement with school systems in the region including four Charter Schools. The public schools in this region also provide a unique picture of rural Appalachian communities but also reflect changes related to the increased diversity within these communities. In addition, the Cherokee Indian Reservation is located close by and there are also school systems in the nearby Asheville area that provide a more inner-city perspective. The students in this program also complete service learning and shadowing activities in the local community as part of their courses in which they gain a clearer picture of direct service delivery to students and families throughout the region.
Students' practica experiences are divided into an internal clinic placement and an external field-based placement. The internal placement involves working in the Psychological Services Clinic housed within the psychology department. Students in this practicum placement complete a minimum of 6 comprehensive assessments of children and famlies. Clinic placements are closely supervised, including direct supervision of assessments and feedback sessions with families as well as review of audio and/or videotaping of interactions with clients (and their families).
The external field-based practicum placement involves working in a school system within the local community. The requirements for the external placement are a minimum of 2 full days per week working in the agency. The external placement requires students to complete a minimum of 4 assessment cases, 1 behavioral or academic consultation case, and 2 counseling cases. In addition, practicum students present the cases they're seeing to their fellow students and engage in discussions on various topics related to school psychology practice with other practicum students.
As part of the SSP program, students must complete a research requirement. Our students can choose between completing either a Thesis or Research Project option. The thesis may involve original experimental research, a replication of previous research, or applied/action research such as single-subject case studies, program reviews, qualitative studies, etc. The research project provides a way to demonstrate both research competency and content knowledge competency outside of the formal requirements of a Thesis. The focus of the Research Project will be on more applied research typically completed in the schools during the internship year. Further information assisting students in deciding between these two options is provided in the SSP Program Handbook. The proposal for the thesis (prospectus) or research project must be completed and approved prior to enrollment in Thesis hours, which occurs during the student's third year in the program. Any student who does not meet these requirements will be exited from the program. The final thesis or research project defense must be completed before the student can apply for graduation.
Students are required to complete a 1200-hour internship following the completion of formal coursework and practica experiences. The internship occurs during a single academic year. Of the 1200 hours, at least half must occur in a school setting. This internship is a two-semester experience in which the student demonstrates and applies skills acquired during formal coursework and practica experiences. Students must receive 2 hours per week of supervision from a credentialed school psychologist during their internship year.
Completion of the School Psychologist Praxis II exam with a score at or above the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) licensure exam criteria of 159 is also required for graduation from our program. Additionally, students achieving a score of 165 or higher on the Praxis II Exam are eligible to apply for the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) certification through the National Association of School Psychologists.