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School Psychology Training Philosophy

The CSULB  school psychology program is based on an ecological theoretical perspective (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). By promoting an ecological model, our students learn to understand that student achievement and behavioral difficulties result from a discrepancy between a student's developing skills and the multiple demands of his/her environment (Ogbu, 1981; Sroufe, 1979).

Accordingly, our students are well versed in the varied conditions of risk and sources of resiliency that impact child development and student learning (Doll, Zucker, & Brehm, 2004), with a particular emphasis on manipulable rather than static conditions (Wang, Haertal, & Walberg, 1993).  For example, beginning at the center of an ecological system with the child, our program teaches future school psychologists to measure a student's academic, cognitive, social, and emotional skills as well as behavior in order to make recommendations for accommodations, interventions, and services (Ysseldyke et al., 2006). Additionally, the program prepares future school psychologists to assist in developing personal competencies such as confidence, perseverance, conflict resolution, and organization for students at risk of school failure (Bernard, 2000).

An ecological model does not solely focus on the learner.  Recognizing that learning is a transactional process in which the learner is affected and affects the learning environment and the learning process, our program emphasizes the proximal and distal environmental influences of family, home-school collaboration, peers, neighborhoods, communities, world of work, public policies and culture.  For example, home-school collaboration is associated with student test scores, grades, attitudes toward schools, behaviors, attendance, academic engagement, and need for intervention services, with positive outcomes in these areas documented for families from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgerounds (Christenson & Reschly, 2009).  CSULB students receive extensive preparation in consulting and collaborating with parents and teachers on modifying the learning environment so that the effectiveness of both parents and teachers is maximized (Gutkin & Curtis, 1999; Zins & Erchul, 1995).

Recognizing that teacher preparation and competency is at least as influential on student outcomes as home environment and student characteristics (Darling-Hammond, 2006), the program teaches future school psychologists to identify and promote best practices for all students, including English Language Learners and those with exceptional needs (Samway & McKeon, 2007; Hallahan, Kauffman, & Pullen, 2011).

School psychologists are often called on during times of crisis.  Therefore, our program trains students to respond to crises according to best practices (Brock & Jimerson, 2012), and more importantly, to be actively involved in crisis prevention programs (Brock, Nickerson, Reeves, Jimerson, Lieberman, & Feinberg, 2009).  Training in crisis prevention and intervention is based on the theoretical tenets described above – increasing personal competency and resiliency among students, forging strong school/home/community partnerships, and preparing school personnel to respond to student needs.

Because school psychology has become an increasingly litigious profession, our program is also grounded in current legal and ethical guidelines for practices. Our students are taught within a scientist-practitioner model to apply evidence-based practices, current legal mandates, and established standards of ethical practice (e.g., AERA, APA, NASP) in making decisions about assessment, intervention, and prevention for students with and without disabilities.

In summary, the program relies on a variety of knowledge bases to prepare its students for the ever changing role of a school psychologist.

last updated — Sep 23, 2013