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School Psychology Certification in Georgia: Become a School Psychologist in GA

Georgia school psychologists are certified by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (http://www.gapsc.com/). School psychology is classified as a "service field"; certificates are valid for preschool through grade 12.

‘Clear renewable certificates’ are the standard; they are the initial certification awarded to candidates who have met all requirements (including state-specific ones). Nonrenewable certificates may be issued to new graduates, out-of-state candidates, or former certificate holders to get them working sooner.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is offering several Online Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral programs in Psychology including Educational Psychology, Counseling Psychology and Clinical Psychology. Capella University, is also offering three online CACREP - accredited master's programs: School Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy. Click here to request information about the Capella University programs.

New York University Steinhardt Department of Applied Psychology offers a Master of Arts in School Counseling (Counseling and Guidance: School and Bilingual School Counseling). The program is accredited by the Master's in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC). Click Here to contact NYU Steinhardt Department of Applied Psychology about this program.

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Clear Renewable Certificate in School Psychology

Georgia school psychologists may complete school psychology programs that have one of two approvals (http://www.gapsc.com/Rules/Current/Certification/505-2-.204.pdf). State-approved programs at Level 6 (the educational specialist level) are acceptable. Programs approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) are also acceptable.

Students may search for Georgia state-approved programs on the Commission website (http://www.gapsc.com/EducatorPreparation/ApprovedPrograms/EducationApprovedPrograms.aspx). The state currently boasts four. A list of NASP-approved programs, organized by state, is available on the NASP website (http://www.nasponline.org/certification/naspapproved.aspx); programs are offered at the educational specialist and doctoral levels.

Georgia will also accept the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) credential as evidence that educational requirements have been met. The NCSP credential is issued by NASP. In order to receive it, a candidate must have completed 60 semester hours of organized study in school psychology as well as 1,200 hours of internship. The Praxs II examination for school psychologists is another requirement (http://www.nasponline.org/certification/becomeNCSP.aspx). It is not required that a candidate have completed a NASP-approved program. However, graduates of non-NASP programs must submit a case study and portfolio.

Some professionals who did their initial education in fields related to school psychology pursue NASP-approved respecialization programs.

Special Georgia Requirements for In-State and Out-of-State Candidates

Georgia has a recency requirement. In most cases, candidates must demonstrate recent education or practice. Six semester hours or 10 Professional Learning Units (PLUs) or Continuing Education Units (CEUs) will be accepted. A year of recent out-of-state practice will meet the requirement. University level teaching may also be accepted. A school psychologist who holds licensing through the Examining Boards Division may use this as evidence of having met the recency requirement (http://www.gapsc.com/Rules/Current/Certification/505-2-.020.pdf).

In most cases, certification candidates must pass a content area assessment. NASP notes that the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators is the required examination for Georgia school psychologists (http://www.nasponline.org/certification/state_info_list.aspx). Out-of-state candidates who have passed an acceptable examination in their own jurisdiction may be exempted (http://www.gapsc.com/Rules/Current/Certification/505-2-.020.pdf).

Out-of-state school psychologists with three years of successful recent experience may be exempted from all state-specific requirements except the conduct requirement (having an acceptable legal and professional background). The three years must have been served during the five year period preceding application.

Professional and Legal Considerations

Practice as a school psychologist requires an acceptable legal and professional background. Georgia utilizes the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) National Clearinghouse database to stay apprised of disciplinary actions taken by certification agencies in other states.

The application includes questions about professional history, e.g. revocations. The Commission notes that false answers may result in discipline. 'Yes' answers require explication.

Criminal background checks are carried out at the employment level. Public school systems are required to carry them out; procedures may vary. At this point, individuals will be issued five-year clearance certificates indicating that they do not have disqualifying convictions or suspended or revoked licenses (http://www.gapsc.com/Rules/Current/Certification/505-2-.042.pdf). State rules note that the clearance certificate itself does not qualify a person for a position.

Out-of-state applicants must list all certifications held in other states or U.S. territories; copies of credentials must also be submitted. Georgia extends reciprocity to all states (http://www.gapsc.com/Rules/Current/Certification/505-2-.001.pdf).

Internationally Educated Candidates

Georgia certification candidates who received their education outside of the United States will need to have their credentials evaluated. The Commission lists four accepted evaluation agencies: American Association of Collegiate Registrars And Admissions Officers (AACRAO) International Education Services, Educational Credential Evaluators Inc., International Education Evaluations Inc., and Josef Silny & Associates International Education Consultants (http://www.gapsc.com/Certification/AcceptedCredAgencyList.aspx).

Nonrenewable Professional Certificates in School Psychology

Nonrenewable professional certificates are issued only at the request of a school district. The candidate must meet one of the following qualifications: He or she has 1) completed a Level 5 program in school psychology (signifying at least one year of graduate study) or 2) completed a Level 6 program (either NASP-approved or state-approved) but is missing some Georgia-specific requirements. Nonrenewable certificates may also be issued to candidates with expired certificates who need time to meet Georgia requirements.

The Application Process

In some instances, application materials are submitted by the candidate. In others, they are submitted by another organization on the candidate's behalf; this could be the college where the candidate was educated or the school system that intends to hire them.

Application forms are found in the 'certification' section of the Commission website (http://www.gapsc.com/Certification/FormsAndApplications.aspx).Candidates can use a separate link to find a description of needed documents (http://www.gapsc.com/Certification/DocumentsForCertification.aspx).

The Commission requires transcripts from all colleges attended; applicants who have had name changes are asked to submit transcripts with their current name.

A 'Verification of Lawful Presence' form is to be included with the application materials.

A 'GaPSC Approved Program Recommendation' form should be submitted if education was completed within the state.

Candidates who need to document experience will use the ‘Experience Verification’ form. The employment must be documented by the appropriate individual, for example, superintendent or personnel officer. In most cases, school principals do not qualify.

Application status can be monitored through one’s MyPSC Account.

Incomplete applications are returned without review. An applicant may be issued a requirements letter if, after the initial review, eligibility has not been demonstrated.

Renewal Process

The renewal process is different according to whether one holds a qualifying credential. School psychologists may show evidence of state psychology licensing or NASP certification in lieu of providing standard renewal documentation.

Additional Information

Individuals may call the Certification Section at 800-869-7775 for general inquiries. Email is to be directed to mail@gapsc.com.

The state’s professional organization is the Georgia Association of School Psychologists (http://www.gaspnet.org).