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School Psychologist Licensure in the District of Columbia: Become a School Psychologist in DC

School psychologists in the District of Columbia are licensed by the Office of the State Superintendent. Licensure is based on graduate education and supervised experience. The school psychologist is issued a School Support Personnel license that is valid in grades K through 12.

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Education and Training Requirements

A DC school psychologist must earn a master’s degree in school psychology or educational psychology. The program must include least 42 semester hours in content areas mandated by the state (http://osse.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/osse/publication/attachments/).

At least 15 graduate semester hours must be earned in the following content areas:
1) child adolescent or developmental psychology
2) abnormal behavior/ psychopathology
3) introduction to school psychology
4) school psychology seminar
5) statistics, research methods, or tests and measures/ evaluation.

At least six semester hours must be in the areas of behavioral assessment and individual cognitive assessment.

At least six semester hours are to be drawn from the following content areas:
1) the biological basis of behavior
2) learning theory
3) personality theory or
4) neurology/ neuropsychology and brain behavior.

At least nine semester hours are to be drawn from the following:
1) psychology history and systems
2) psychology of exceptional children
3) sociocultural education
4) special education issues and problems or
5) legal issues/ urban issues/ public school law.

At least six semester hours must be drawn from:
1) diagnosis and evaluation of exceptional children
2) learning disabilities
3) diagnosis and remediation in arithmetic or
4) personality assessment.

The individual will need at least 500 hours of internship in a school setting serving children in grades pre-k to 12. The experience must be supervised by a certified school psychologist.

The licensing agency notes that in cases where the word “school” appears in the title of a support personnel license, a candidate who completed a program that was not geared toward K through 12 service delivery might be eligible for credentialing but would have additional requirements.

Background Checks

Licensure is contingent on clearing a fingerprint-based criminal background check (http://osse.dc.gov/service/school-support-personnel-licensure). The candidate will submit fingerprints to the FBI. The Office of the State Superintendent has provided a list of agencies with contact and scheduling information. Most agencies only capture the fingerprints; some actually run the background check. Agency selection can decrease the time it takes to process the background check. The list covers primarily the DC area, though the ‘FBI Channelers’ have sites in other locations. The OSSE notes that candidates can also inquire at local law enforcement agencies.

Applicants should receive the background checks themselves as there is no agency number. The sealed envelope is to be included in the application packet. If a candidate receives a background check by email from one of the agencies listed on the information sheet, he or she will print the email as well as the background check results.

If a person is currently an employee or hiree of the District of Columbia Public Schools, procedures are different. The licensing agency will accept clearance that was granted up to one year before application. Candidates who need to have fingerprints made may have their fingerprints made through DCPS. The DCPS Office of Human Resources will provide the authorization form. Candidates who have not been hired by a DC public school are not eligible to use DCPS services.

The Application Process

The OSSE expects standard supporting documents to be included in the application packet. Some steps will need to be carried out beforehand. A candidate who completed a program approved by another state licensing agency should fill out the top portion of the verification form and give it to a school official to complete. If the candidate completed a program approved within DC, verification is typically sent to the licensing office. However, the candidate is responsible for ensuring that this happens.

Application materials are available on the OSSE site (http://osse.dc.gov/service/school-support-personnel-licensure). Candidates will download the forms listed for their particular circumstances (depending on whether they completed an approved program in school psychology and whether the program was located in the District of Columbia.

Transcripts may be student-issued but should be in original envelopes. All degrees should be represented, as well as any other qualifying coursework.

A nonrefundable $50 fee must be included. Personal checks are not accepted.

A candidate who answers “yes” to background questions will need to submit written explanation and/ or court documents.

Application materials may be sent to the following address:

OSSE – Division of Elementary and Secondary Education
Educator Licensure and Accreditation
810 First Street, NE, 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20002

Application materials can also be hand delivered. The OSSE is unable to make copies of any documents.

Internationally Educated School Service Personnel

A candidate who was educated outside the United States will need to have an official credential evaluation, including degree equivalency statement and course by course evaluation. There must be a statement of verification for any licenses held. The credential evaluation should be prepared by an organization that is a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services, or NACES (www.naces.org). The report is to be included in the application packet.

Additional Information

Educator Licensure Services maintains office hours four hours a day during the business week. Questions may also be addressed to educator.licensurehelp at dc.gov. Email addresses for licensure contact persons are available on the licensure services webpage (http://osse.dc.gov/service/educator-licensure-services).

The District of Columbia Association of School Psychologists is the state’s professional organization (http://www.dcasp.org/). It is the local affiliate of the National Association of School Psychologists.