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School Psychology Requirements in Illinois: Become a School Psychologist in IL

The Illinois State Board of Education licenses the state's school psychologists. A Professional Education License (PEL) is issued to candidates who are fully qualified. Those with deficiencies may be issued an Educator License with Stipulations (ELS). A school psychology professional will have a support personnel endorsement; the support personnel endorsement in psychology qualifies a professional to provide services to students from pre-kindergarten to age 21.

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Education

An Illinois school psychologist must complete a graduate program that confers at least a master's degree. The program may be in school psychology or educational psychology; if the latter, the student is to have a specialization in school psychology.

Illinois programs must have state approval. The Board publishes a directory of approved educational programs; the directory published in 2014 showed four in school psychology (http://www.isbe.net/profprep/PDFs/directory.pdf). Comparable out-of-state programs are acceptable. Programs must be housed in regionally accredited institutions and must prepare students for school psychology credentialing in their own jurisdiction.

School psychology programs must include appropriate experience. The practicum is to be at least 250 hours and take place in a school setting or child study center setting. In most cases, an internship is required. The internship is to be 1,200 hours. Work experience may be substituted for internship if the psychologist was duly credentialed in another state or was issued a license that authorized them to work as a school psychologist with conditions (ELS).

Details about education and internship requirements are found in Administrative Code 25.235 (http://www.isbe.net/rules/archive/pdfs/25ark.pdf).

Examination

License candidates need to demonstrate basic skills proficiency and content area knowledge. In-state students take both exams before education and internship requirements have been met – the school will notify the licensing agency when a candidate has met requirements.

The Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP) is the academic proficiency exam. A prospective educator will often take it before admission.

The Board will accept strong ACT or SAT performance in lieu of the TAP, provided scores are no more than ten years old when submitted (as figured by month and year) and provided the exam included a writing component (http://www.isbe.net/licensure/html/testing.htm). A combined critical reading and math score of 1030 is acceptable as is a 22 on the ACT Plus Writing. Passing scores on older versions of the basic skills test (096 and 300) are also acceptable if they were earned within the prior ten years. Some individuals pursuing school psychology may have presented scores on the TAP or Basic Skills test when applying for a previous Illinois educator credential; they will not be required to retake the exam. A study guide, and other information, is available on the Board site (http://www.isbe.net/licensure/html/testing.htm).

The content area exam is taken prior to the last semester of the internship. School psychology students take School Psychologist Test #183 (http://www.isbe.net/licensure/requirements/oos-pel-school-support-end.pdf).

Out-of-State and International Applicants

Administrative Code 25.425 describes the process for out-of-state candidates. Out-of-state candidate must have completed a comparable program or hold a comparable credential issued by another state or nation.

Internationally educated candidates will need a course-by-course evaluation report. The Board has posted contact information for 18 credential evaluation agencies that have been found to meet Illinois standards (http://www.isbe.net/licensure/html/out_of_state.htm?col5=open#cred). Original foreign documents are to be taken to one's regional office of education.

An international applicant needs a U.S. social security number but does not necessarily need to be a citizen.

The Application Process

Illinois uses the Education Licensure Information System (ELIS). A student who completes an in-state school psychology program will be recommended by the institution when all requirements have been met (including testing); this is referred to as a 'notification of entitlement'. A pending credential should show up on the student’s ELIS home page; at this stage, the individual will submit an application.

An individual who needs transcripts evaluated to determine eligibility for Illinois licensing will begin by creating an ELIS account (http://www.isbe.net/licensure/html/application_process.htm). Once the account has been created, the person should find a link that allows them to apply for a new license.

Some supplemental materials will need to be requested from the source. The applicant will fill out the top portion of the State-Approved Education Verification form and send it to the college or university that granted the certification-qualifying degree or credential. The institution will need to confirm that the program the individual completed was license-qualifying in that state. The form will need to be submitted directly to the Illinois Board by the school.

A candidate who is using SAT or ACT scores in lieu of the TAP should have a score report sent to the Board. The Board has provided instructions, effective January 2014 (http://www.isbe.net/licensure/pdf/ssp-act-oos010114.pdf).

Transcripts may be sent to the Illinois Board or one’s local regional office (http://www.isbe.net/regionaloffices/pdf/roedirectory.pdf).

An out-of-state candidate applying for an ELS will send a copy of their license or credential; both sides must be copied.

Supplemental forms are available on the website of the Board of Education (http://www.isbe.net/licensure/html/forms.htm).

A candidate who answers ‘yes’ to potentially disqualifying questions about criminal history will submit references as well as official documentation. Some offenses will not automatically prelude licensure, but will require review.

Various circumstances, including child support, student loan, or tax status, could prelude licensure at the PEL or ELS level.

The application fee for a PEL or ELS is $75 for in-state candidates, $150 for out-of-state candidates. Fees may only be paid by credit or debit card. The Board notes that a prepaid card may be used if the applicant is uncomfortable entering sensitive information online.

The Board notes that the review process typically takes 120 working days. However, a school district can request priority review.

A candidate who is found ineligible for a PEL may be issued an ELS if credentials are sufficient for the latter.

Licenses must be registered after they are issued; this can be done through the ELIS system.

Additional Information

The Illinois system of credentialing educators underwent significant change in 2013; there are a number of resources available on the site of the Illinois State Board of Education to aid with transition (http://www.isbe.net/ELIS/default.htm). The ‘frequently asked questions’ section was updated in April of 2014. The website also has training materials for the online system. The Licensure Division call center can be reached at 217-557-6763.

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) notes that the scope of practice for an experienced school psychologist in Illinois can include the delivery of “school psychological services” outside school settings, but there are some prohibitions/limitations (http://www.nasponline.org/certification/state_info_list.aspx). Some school psychologists may find it advantageous to pursue licensing as psychologists through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (http://www.idfpr.com/profs/info/psych.asp).

The Illinois School Psychologists Association is the state’s professional organization. (http://www.ilispa.org/). Students can find information about programs and internships, including those at the doctoral level (http://www.ilispa.org/students/).