Reflections on School Psychology and NASP

By Fagan, Thomas K. | National Association of School Psychologists. Communique, January/February 2009 | Go to article overview

Reflections on School Psychology and NASP

Fagan, Thomas K., National Association of School Psychologists. Communique


I started graduate school at Kent State University in June 1965. The Kent program was relatively new, responding to the needs of Ohio school districts for special education services and the Ohio Department of Education's support for school psychologists and their training programs. When I finished as Kent's first school psychology PhD graduate in March 1969, the first NASP convention was being held in St. Louis. Then age 26, I didn't attend that meeting and, in retrospect, I'm not sure I had heard much about it or the 1968 organizational meeting in Columbus, OH. Soon after, I joined NASP and have attended every NASP annual convention except 1969 and I consider that to be the record for consecutive years attended. I was closely involved with NASP from about 1972 until the early 1990s, at which time I became its historian. Over the years, I kept my NASP convention booklets, meeting minutes, newsletters, journals, membership directories, brochures, leadership listings, organizational publications, etc. I have participated in publications at the end of each decade of NASP's history and compiled perspective pieces on the association, its leadership, policies, development, and accomplishments (see below: Sources for Studying the History of NASP). A chronology of major events appears in Fagan (2005) and Fagan & Wise (2007). Looking back over 40 years is not easy. Much has changed and much has not changed in the field of school psychology and in NASP (see Fagan, 2008). What follows are my opinions and recollections and they do not necessarily represent those of NASP or the many leaders with whom I have worked.


When I took my first position at Western Illinois University in the fall of 1969 there was no Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act (1973), no FERPA (P.L. 93-380 in 1974), and no IDEA (originally P.L. 94-142, in 1975). There were about 5,000 school psychologists serving more than 15,000 school districts with a service ratio of approximately 1:7,600. Practice was regulated primarily at the state and local levels by regulations for the education of students eligible for special education and state credentialing laws for the practice of psychology in and out of school settings. Parent permissions for conducting school psychologists' evaluations or for special education placements were not always required. There were about 2 million students in special education and categories of special education varied from state to state with that of learning disability just a few years old. There was as much concern for what L.D. was and for approaches to intervention as for how to determine its eligibility (that of course followed soon after Public Law 94-142). Preschool and transition programs were not consistently available across the states. What we now refer to as traditional school psychological assessment for special education eligibility was the dominant practitioner role, with consultation and interventions much less observable in most settings. Only 17 states had a school psychology association and there were few, if any, official affiliations with NASP. Approximately 40 states had some form of credentialing for practitioners of psychological services in the schools and the range of titles for these practitioners was far greater than today (Farling & Hoedt, 1971). Services to rural areas were common in some states but almost unavailable in many others.

The literature of school psychology was comparatively small with a handful of books published in the 1960s and early 1970s and journals limited to The Journal of School Psychology and Psychology in the Schools. My recollection of the more common assessment instruments employed by school psychologists were the 1960 edition of the StanfordBinet, the 1949 edition of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC), the Bender Visual-Motor Gestalt Test, Memory for Designs Test, Minnesota-Percepto-Diagnostic Test, the Wide Range Achievement Test, Gray Oral Reading Test, Peabody Individual Achievement Test, Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, and various personality measures including the Draw-A-Person, House-Tree-Person, Sentence Completion, Rorschach, Children's Apperception Test, and Michigan Picture Test. …

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