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School Psychology Licensure in Iowa: Become a School Psychologist in IA

Iowa school psychologists are licensed by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners on the basis of graduate education and supervised experience. They are authorized to work with individuals up to age 21 provided they are being served in a setting appropriate to the license.

Licenses are issued at different levels. An initial professional license is granted to a professional who has met education and internship requirements. The school psychologist can later qualify for a standard professional license.

Iowa accepts national certification as an alternate way to show that education and experience requirements have been met; the individual must still seek state licensing.

A student may apply for a Class A license to complete internship or thesis requirements in an employment context.

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Education and Internship Requirements

A school psychologist will need at least 60 semester hours of coursework beyond the bachelor’s. The highest degree attained may be a master’s, specialist degree, or doctoral degree. Iowa does not require students to earn any other terminal degree (besides a bachelor’s) en route to the doctoral degree. Candidates are allowed to take require courses beyond the master’s without receiving a higher degree.

The school psychology program should be approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) or accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). The APA accredits only doctoral programs while NASP approves both ‘specialist’ and doctoral programs (http://www.nasponline.org/certification/naspapproved.aspx).

The licensing agency notes that the program must include a human relations component. It must prepare students to work with both disabled students and gifted and talented students (http://www.boee.iowa.gov/forms/ProfessionalServ.pdf).

Alternate Pathway: NCSP Credential

A Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) credential is accepted as an alternate way of showing that education and training requirements have been met. The NCSP may be sought by graduates of programs that were not approved by NASP or the APA. It is dependent on having 60 semester hours of applicable coursework and 1,200 hours of internship. Candidates who do not complete NASP-approved programs must submit case studies and professional portfolios to demonstrate that they have competencies on a par with those of NASP graduates.

Nationally certified school psychologists must also take the national school psychologist examination which is offered as part of the Praxis II educator series. Information about the examination is available on the site of Educational Testing Service, or ETS (https://www.ets.org/praxis/prepare/materials/0401). The examination is currently offered four times per year (http://www.ets.org/praxis/register/centers_dates/paper). Registration deadlines are approximately one month before test administration; late registrations will be accepted for an additional fee.

Background Checks

Licensure candidates must have background checks conducted by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the FBI. The Board notes that even if a candidate was fingerprinted to obtain a credential in another state, the process must be repeated in Iowa. Some candidates may be exempted from this requirement based on a credential that they already hold through the Iowa Department of Education. A candidate who needs a fingerprint card can call 515-281-3245 to leave name and address.

The Application Process

Licensure forms are found on the Board site in PDF and Word formats (http://www.boee.iowa.gov/licensure/licensure_forms_menu.html). A school psychologist will use the ‘professional service license’ application packet. There are separate packets for candidates who were educated at Iowa institutions and those who received an out-of-state education.

An in-state candidate will fill out a short application; the form includes questions about professional and legal history, and any ‘yes’ answers require written explanation. The institution will sign that the individual completed the graduate program and will affix the college or university seal. $150 in nonrefundable fees is to be enclosed ($85 for the application and $65 for background check processing).

Some supplemental materials will be accepted whether they are sent with the application or arrive separately. Official undergraduate and graduate transcripts may accompany the application; if they will be arriving separately, the applicant should include a note to that effect. The application packet includes a checklist.

The fee for an out-of-state candidate will be $210; there is a credential evaluation fee in addition to background check and application fees. A candidate who is licensed in another state will need to submit a copy of their credential. The out-of-state candidate will also need to submit all materials required of in-state candidates.

Application packets are to be mailed to State of Iowa Board of Examiners Licensure in Des Moines. The Board notes that it typically takes four weeks to process an application. (For an in-state candidate whose university initiated the process, the processing time may be less.)

Class A Licenses

A Class A license will only be issued to a student who is enrolled in a NASP-approved or APA-accredited program. The institution must verify that the employment situation sought will allow the candidate to fulfill an internship or thesis requirement. Class A licenses are only valid for a year and may not be renewed. The necessary form is found in the school psychology intern application packet. The applicant will submit transcripts showing coursework that has been completed to date. $210 covers the cost of evaluating credentials, running a background check, and issuing a license.

Progression from Initial to Standard Licensing

Progression from initial to standard licensing is based on accruing experience and meeting professional standards. The timeframe may be longer if a professional is not serving in an Iowa public school (http://www.boee.iowa.gov/ProfServFAQ.html).

Special Services Administrator Credential

NASP notes that school psychologists may also qualify for a special services administrator credential (http://www.nasponline.org/certification/state_info_list.aspx). The professional will need four years of experience and the approval of an evaluator. There are specific coursework requirements. The candidate is expected to complete a special education administration practicum. In some instances, this requirement may be waived on the basis of prior experience.

The Board’s FAQ for special services providers includes basic information about endorsements for which licensees may qualify (http://www.boee.iowa.gov/ProfServFAQ.html).

Psychology practice in other arenas requires a license from the Iowa Board of Psychology (http://www.idph.state.ia.us/licensure/board_home.asp?board=psy).

Additional Information

The Board may be reached by telephone at 515-281-3245. Individual with questions may use the contact button on the Board site.

NASP lists Eric Neessen and Special Education Consultant Mike Cavin as state contacts.

The Iowa School Psychologist Association is an additional professional resource, but does not issue credentials (http://www.iowaschoolpsych.com).