School Psychology Overview
Professors: Mark Steege, PhD, NCSP, BCBA-D
Assistant Professors: Jamie Pratt, PsyD, BCBA-D and Garry Wickerd, PhD, NCSP, BCBA
Associate Professor Emerita: Rachel Brown, PhD, NCSP
Part-Time Lecturers: Erin Beardsley, PsyD, NCSP, BCBA-D and Alexis Kiburis, PsyD, NCSP
Program Mission and Philosophy
The School Psychology program at the University of Southern Maine prepares graduates for careers as professionally credentialed school psychologists.
The mission of the program is to prepare practitioner-scientists who provide collaborative, evidence-based school psychology services that help school-aged children succeed academically, socially, emotionally, and behaviorally. The program seeks to prepare school psychologists for applied practice in schools and related settings by emphasizing the knowledge and skills endorsed by the American Psychological Association (APA) and the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). Coursework and field placements are designed to promote general knowledge in the fields of education and psychology and targeted competencies in assessment, intervention, consultation, and applied research.
The program endorses four primary practice models and philosophical approaches:
- Evidence-based practice. This is the organizing theme that permeates the training program and defines a best practices approach to service delivery. Within this model, school psychologists utilize assessment methods and interventions that are empirically-based. This means that school psychologists (a) rely exclusively on assessment methods that have been demonstrated to be reliable, valid, and accurate, and (b) endorse and apply only those interventions that have been subjected to scientific analysis and have yielded socially meaningful outcomes.
- Problem-solving. School psychologists utilize a collaborative problem-solving approach as the basis for all professional activities. The problem-solving framework is applied to a continuum of services that include assessment, intervention (e.g., consultation, counseling, social skills training, positive behavioral supports), and program evaluation.
- Data-based decision-making. School psychologists utilize reliable and valid assessment data to (a) determine students’ eligibility for services, (b) design student and systems-level interventions, and (c) monitor students’ progress and evaluate program outcomes. Emphasis is placed on the use of criterion-referenced, curriculum-based, and behavioral assessments to address the academic, social, emotional, and behavioral needs of referred students.
- Applied behavior analysis. School psychologists conduct Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBA) to identify and accurately measure those variables that elicit, occasion, motivate, and reinforce behaviors that interfere with and/or contribute to students’ acquisition of academic, social, emotional, and behavioral skills. The results of assessments are used as the basis for designing individually-tailored, behavior analytic interventions that promote the development of socially meaningful behaviors. School psychologists collaborate with team members in the design, implementation, and evaluation of these interventions using single case design methodologies.
Programs of Study
The USM School Psychology program offers two degrees:
- Master of Science in Educational Psychology: School Psychology Concentration (84 credits)
- Doctor of Psychology in School Psychology (111 credits)
Both degree programs include requirements for coursework, field-based experiences, and applied research projects. The doctoral program expands on the specialist-level (master’s degree) program by emphasizing advanced competencies in (a) applied research, (b) clinical supervision, and (c) assessment and intervention for school-aged children with low incidence, high intensity academic, social-emotional, and behavioral needs.
Graduates of both programs are eligible to apply for state and national certification as School Psychologists. These credentials permit the full range of professional practice within school settings. Graduates of the doctoral program who obtain a year of postdoctoral supervision also may be eligible to apply for licensure in Psychology, which expands career opportunities beyond school settings (e.g., private practice, clinics, and hospitals).