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GraceKrispy GraceKrispy is offline
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Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 41,766
Senior Member

Old 10-16-2015, 08:24 PM
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Hi Mrs. Lilbit!

I'll take a shot at your questions! eeza got her degree more recently (I remember her asking me questions, too ) and will probably pipe in with her thoughts as well!

Is it possible to get a M.S. in Psychology, even though my B.A is not?
**Yes... but there are lots of places that don't give terminal masters in Psychology, but it's VERY possible to get a masters in school psychology, regardless of your BA area

Is it better to get a degree in school psychology or clinical psychology, or does it matter? I've checked the job boards in my district and the school psych postings state that a degree in either is acceptable. Is one is more advantageous than the other for working in the private sector?
**Ok, here's my experience: clinical psych rarely gives a masters. They are PhD or PsyD levels almost exclusively. The reason for that, in my understanding, is that you can't do a whole lot with clinical psych masters level degrees, even if they are offered. *Most* schools require school psychs (sounds like yours might be different?) and *most* work in the private sector wants doctorate level. The exception is if you get a licensed mental health certification and can do therapy. THose are done at masters level quite commonly.

Since I already have a master's, could I begin working directly on a specialist or doctoral degree? I imagine if so, I would have to take quite a few "catch up" courses before working toward a degree, since it's been so long since I've taken an actual psych class. I'm just wondering if it's really necessary to get a second masters.
**It really depends on the program. Some programs only offer masters or EdS, some only offer PhD or PsyD, some offer both. So that varies a whole lot by program. Also keep in mind that the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) is a accreditation unit for school psychology. Not all program have NASP accreditation (which is only masters or specialist level accreditation) and only some programs have American Psychological Association (APA) accreditation (Ph.D. or Psy.D. level). If you want to get a doctorate and you want to get licensure as a psychologist to do private practice or whatnot, it will be a lot easier in almost all states if you attend an APA accredited school. BUT all states have different licensure requirements, so you might want to check into that if you're interested in that.

If you have teaching experience, how would you compare the work of a school psych compared to a teacher?
**This is a bit of a tough question in some ways. eeza and I can both give our experience, but the role of school psych can vary tremendously by district whereas the role of teacher is generally the same (it's the support level that is different between districts). I have lots of teaching experience. I personally think the best school psych are those who have been teachers. In my masters cohort of 7, only 3 of us had been teachers. In the cohort I trained last year (I co-taught the assessment courses), there were 12 students. I believe only about 4 had *any* teaching experience, and only one had been a classroom teacher. In my PhD cohort (also of 7, coincidentally), only 2 of us had been teachers.

That didn't answer your question, I got off track But I would say ime being a school psych has way more paperwork, more flexibility. I think one of the things I liked better about teaching was having the same students all year and really following their growth and connecting with them strongly. As a school psych, my relationships were much shorter in that they were often only the length of the assessment process. I did some counseling as well, and some groups, but I did much less of it in my 2nd school psych district because of the way school psychs were used. There is a lot of parent contact with both jobs. We've all had difficult parents as teachers, but the most difficult parent contacts I've had have been as a school psych. Sometimes you have to share news that can upset parents. You have to be very diplomatic. As a psych, I could usually fit a bathroom break in when I wanted, but not always a lunch break I also did a lot of traveling and had a huge caseload. As a teacher, you get to have control over your schedule (in some districts you get less control than others, though). As a psych, I could be more flexible in my own schedule, but it was challenging to work with all the teachers. Some were very difficult to work with, some were very adverse to letting me observe or take the student for assessments.

How are you evaluated?
**In my last district, I had a supervisor who was trying to come up with a way for us to be evaluated. We weren't evaluated formally with test scores or anything. But the sped director gave us evaluations and they were usually just "meets, meets, meets"... many things didn't apply to us because they weren't specially designed for school psychs. Some districts actually take kid test scores into account, some have school psychs set their own "Smart" goals-- it really varies. You'd find out best about your area by asking your school psychs what the job it like there and how they are evaluated.

What is the pay like in your district, compared to the pay of teachers?
**My last district gave crappy pay. We did get paid more, but we also worked a 12 month schedule. So basically, I got paid what I would have gotten paid as a teacher if I were a 12 month teacher (we had some of those, too). In the previous district, we were on the teacher pay schedule, but we got additional state pay, which brought us up about 7K more for the year. Some districts pay their school psychs great. I've yet to work in one of those Sometimes they're on the administrative pay scale.

What advice would you give someone going into this line of work?
**See if you can talk with a school psych in your area to see what the job is like. NASP has an idea school psych position as incorporating consultation, counseling, and assessment. Some districts use school psychs strictly as sped testers/gatekeepers, some use them strictly as RTI data managers, some use them mostly as counselors and data support, some use them for the full range of jobs, some use them strictly for highly problematic behaviors (EBD support) etc etc. No matter which way they use psychs, if you don't like numbers and data, this probably isn't the job for you.

In my jobs, I've become indispensable to my schools Once that happens, I get more leeway and am part of more decisions, and administration would often come to me to get my advice about things. I did trainings for staff (that I created- sometimes I was asked, sometimes I offered because I wanted the staff on the same page), I was a consultant/ support for behaviors and academics, I was parent resource/support for the sped process, I was involved in choosing appropriate intervention materials, the list goes on and on. I like to have a little control, so that was nice

I am tired and kind of sick, so I'm sure I rambled a whole lot- sorry! Please ask any follow up questions if you want. I've had my M.Ed. in school psych for 15 years and I'm currently in my last year of the Ph.D. program (interning in a clinic). One more year and I'll go for state licensure as a psychologist. I attend a NASP/APA accredited program. My school psych experience is limited to two different states, and I've heard some things about other states/ districts, but I don't think anyone is an expert in all states. They are so different!!

Ok, I'll stop now

Last edited by GraceKrispy; 10-16-2015 at 08:45 PM..
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