School Psychologists' Performance on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)

Article excerpt

Approximately 52% of school psychologists with doctorate degrees take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) each year. A passing score on the EPPP is a mandatory requirement in all 50 states and in most provinces in Canada for licensure as an independent provider of psychological services (Yu, Rinaldi, Templer, Colbert, Siscoe, & Van Patten, 1997). Approximately 300 students annually are awarded a doctorate in school psychology (Curtis, Grier, & Hunley, 2004). Over 1,400 school psychologists took the EPPP between 1997 through July 2006 (Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards [ASPPB], 2006). The EPPP is a 200-question, multiple choice test administered by the Professional Examination Service. The EPPP exemplifies a high stakes test for the individual sitting for the exam and the program from which the test-taker received his/her education.

The purposes of this article on school psychology and the EPPP are twofold. First, for future doctorates in school psychology who aspire to independent practice in a noneducational setting, the data reported in this article may influence their application process. That is, individuals desiring independent practice are likely to prefer school psychology programs that produce a high rate of graduates who pass the EPPP. Second, for school psychology faculty, the data provide comparative feedback on the relative success of their students passing the EPPP.

The intent of this article is not to suggest that school psychology programs should be evaluated simply on the scores their graduates receive on the EPPP, as many other factors should be considered when appraising any program. Students' success rate on the EPPP may be important for only some school psychology programs and for only some doctoral candidates.


There exists very little if any literature comparing the EPPP scores of school psychologists across training programs. The research comparing EPPP scores of school psychologists to other types of psychology specialties (i.e., clinical and counseling) is limited to three studies conducted in the early 1990s. In all studies, EPPP scores were highest for graduates of clinical programs, followed by those in counseling programs, and then those in school psychology programs (Kupfersmid & Fiala, 1991; McGaha & Minder, 1993; Ross, Holzman, Handal, & Gilner, 1991).


The data used for the current study are based on 40 programs awarding a PhD in school psychology. For each program, at least 10 of their graduates took the EPPP between 1997 through July 2006. EPPP scores were based on those reported by the ASPPB (2006) web-site. The ASPPB published mean EPPP scores (and standard deviations) of licensure candidates by their specialty and school of training. These scores were transformed into passing percentage for each program by subtracting a score of 140 (minimum passing score in most U.S. states and in most Canadian provinces; Yu et al., 1997) from the mean EPPP score for each program and dividing this product by the EPPP score's standard deviation. This calculation results in a z score. Glass and Stanley's (1970) Table B was consulted to determine the area under the normal curve for each program's z score. This area when multiplied by 100 produces the percentage passing the EPPP for each school. For example, if the average EPPP score for students in Program A is 150 and the standard deviation is 5, the z score under the normal curve equals .9772 (150 - 140 / 5 = 2.00). When this area is multiplied by 100, the percentage of graduates from Program A passing the EPPP is 97.72%.

Passing percentage was chosen over mean scores because the EPPP is a criterion referenced test. When the criterion for passing is 140, there is little practical difference whether one scores 140 or 160; there is a large practical difference whether one scores 139 versus 140. The number of times a candidate took the EPPP before passing was not available. …


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