Advocating for School Psychologists in Response to the APA's Proposed Model Act for State Licensure of Psychologists

Article excerpt

On March 6, 2009, the APA Model Licensure Act Task Force released its second draft of the policy document known as the proposed Model Act for State Licensure of Psychologists. This policy document serves as guidance to state legislatures for how they should set up their psychology licensing laws. The general ex- pectations promoted in the model act are that professionals seeking to use the title "psychologist" and tO render "psychological services" are to be doctoral level psychologists only. However, given the growing credentialing of school psychologists by state boards of education, previous versions of the APA model act included an exemption to this doctoral-only standard. The 1987 version of this document read, "It is recognized that school psychologists who are certified by the state education agency are permitted to use the term school psychologist or certified school psychologist as long as they are practicing in the public schools." Over the last 3 decades since the exemption practices began, school psychology has developed into a distinct, well-established profession with a rich body of supporting scholarly research. This exemption has been appropriate and necessary and has helped pave the way for the development of the profession and the high standards for the credentialing of school psychologists required by state education agencies. It has also helped minimize credentialing and licensing conflicts between these agencies and state psychology licensing boards.

PROPOSED REVISIONS TO THE 1987 APA MODEL ACT

Round One: August 2007, In August 2007, APA released a first draft revision of the 1987 model act document. This first revision removed the exemption and also asserted that the only professionals that should be considered eligible to use the title "psychologist" and practice psychology were professors working in universities and doctoral-level licensed psychologists. NASP joined more than 20 other professional organizations and over 10,000 individuals in sending letters to APA opposing the removal of this exemption.

Round Two: March 2009. Despite this outcry, the APA Model Act Task Force has again proposed in their second draft of this revised document that the school psychology exemption be removed, at least in part. APAs most recently released proposed language reflects some changes in their initial position as a result of the first public comment period. The language in the second draft:

* Removes the licensing requirement

* Permits doctoral-level professionals to use the title when working in schools, universities, or research settings

* Restricts the provision of school psychological services to "psyehoeducational" services

* Requires that the doctoral degree be in the area of psychology

* Restricts the use of the title "school psychologist" to public school settings

The language from the draft clarifying these changes says:

(3) The prior version of this model act included an exemption for the use of the terms school psychologist or certified school psychologist for all individuals credentialed by the state agency regulating practice in public schools. This version restricts the use of the term school psychologist or certified school psychologist to individuals who: 1) have a doctoral degree in psychology; 2) are certified by the state education agency; and 3) are using the terms only during their practice in the public schools, (p. 15)

Eliminating School Psychology as a Specialty Within Psychology, Another major shift in policy reflected in the second draft was the change of school psychology from a "specialty y of psychology to a "foundation of psychology." The language in the 1987 model act that recognizes school psychology as a specialty says,

This provision recognizes the broad areas of specialization (e.g., clinical, counseling, school, industrial/organizational) and emerging specialties (e.g., neuropsychology, environmental) and the variety of academic training as separate from proficiencies. …