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School Psychology Certification in Nebraska: Become a School Psychologist in NE

Nebraska school psychologists are under the jurisdiction of the Nebraska Department of Education. The certificate is issued for grades pre-k through 12. As per 006.53C of state code, this credential allows school psychologists to provide services to students up to age 21. The credential does not authorize private practice; this would require a license issued by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

School psychologists are certificated on the basis of graduate education, internship, and completion of state-mandated human relations training.

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Educational Requirements

Nebraska state code mandates that school psychologists have a minimum of 60 semester hours beyond the bachelor's degree (http://www.education.ne.gov/legal/webrulespdf/CLEANRule24_2013.pdf). They must have at least 54 semester hours of coursework after academic credit for internship has been subtracted. In-state schools offering school psychology training programs are under state jurisdiction. The Department of Education has provided a list of approved in-state programs for educators; currently, there are three school psychology programs noted (http://www.education.ne.gov/EducatorPrep/IHE/ProgramApproval/BoardApproval-20004/BoardApprovalReport.pdf).

Supervised Experience Requirements

A school psychologist will need at least 1,200 hours of internship. At least 600 hours must be spent in a school setting. A student who begins a doctoral level internship having already completed the 600 hours through creditable supervised experience is allowed to complete the doctoral internship in a setting that provides psychological services to youth up to age 21. In this case, additional experience in the schools is not mandated.

Nebraska code stipulates that internship supervision must be provided by a "Standard Institution of Higher Education"; this is defined as an educational institution that is fully approved by Nebraska or by another state that has comparable standards.

Human Relations Training

Nebraska has a human relations requirement. A student may select from a list of approved courses. The licensing agency has approved, in addition to in-state courses, courses offered by institutions in eleven other states including Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The DOE notes that courses offered by other institutions may be evaluated for approval; candidates who believe they have completed a comparable course may submit official transcripts along with course descriptions and syllabi.

Candidates may be exempted from human relations coursework on the basis of employment experience if the six human relations competencies have been developed; work must take place at a school, institute of higher learning, or other agency that serves children. Candidates who opt for this route must submit a narrative with a separate page devoted to each required competency. A supervisor will need to sign, validating the narrative. The human relations page of the DOE site includes detailed instructions and an abbreviated example (http://www.education.ne.gov/TCERT/HumanRelationsTrainReq.html).

The DOE notes that a temporary permit may be issued to a candidate who has met all other requirements.

Background Checks

Endorsement candidates who have not lived in Nebraska continually for at least five years preceding application and who have not held a Nebraska educator certificate will need to have fingerprints made.

A candidate who is required to have fingerprints captured may opt for any law enforcement agency. Fingerprint cards may be requested by phone, mail, email, or fax (http://www.education.ne.gov/TCERT/pdfs/FINGERPRINTING.pdf). However, the DOE notes that there are Livescan centers operated by the State Patrol that will provide the service at no cost to the applicant.

Applicants who are submitting traditional fingerprint cards should submit two sets. Applicants who seek to establish exemption through residency will need to submit a list of addresses where they have lived. The DOE notes that having submitted fingerprints in another jurisdiction does not excuse an applicant from Nebraska’s requirement.

All applicants are required to include a social security number. Nebraska may use the social security number to conduct checks of a candidate's background.

Examination

Teaching certificates require passing scores on a basic skills test. This requirement may be waived for experienced professionals.

While content area examination is not currently among Nebraska’s requirements, Educational Testing Service (ETS) notes that it will become a requirement in September of 2015 (https://www.ets.org/praxis/ne/requirements).

The Application Process

Candidates may apply online or download applications and send them through the mail. The Department of Education notes that online application is preferred. The cost for a certificate that is valid in public and nonpublic schools is $55; candidates who are also submitting fingerprints for processing pay a total of $105. Application and fingerprint processing fees may be paid online or by check or money order, but the DOE notes that the process may be quicker if fees are paid online.

The application can be found in the ‘forms’ section of the Department of Education site (http://www.education.ne.gov/TCERT/pdfs/downloaddoc.pdf). Applicants should make sure they have the most current version.

Applicants will be expected to provide details about the prior five years of professional employment and to furnish copies of out-of-state credentials if applicable. Candidates answering "yes" to professional fitness questions will need to include written explanation. In some cases, a Criminal Charges Self-Reporting Form will be required.

Official transcripts will be required. Electronic (eScrip) transcripts can only be accepted if they are sent directly from the registrar's office.

Application status may be monitored online.

Additional Information

General certification requirements are explained in Rule 21 of Nebraska Administrative Code. Requirements for the school psychology endorsement are delineated in Rule 24 (http://www.education.ne.gov/legal/webrulespdf/CLEANRule24_2013.pdf). The 2013 version of Rule 24 does not mandate a particular program-level accreditation or approval for school psychology. "Guidelines Recommended for use with Rule 24 (Endorsements)" recommends that Nebraska institutions follow preparation standards set by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).

Additional information is available on the site of the Nebraska Department of Education (http://www.education.ne.gov/). Candidates should be aware that regulations do change periodically. Nebraska Teacher Certification may be reached by phone at 402-471-0739 or by email at nde.tcertweb at nebraska.gov. A list of staff members is available on the DOE site (http://www.education.ne.gov/TCERT/pdfs/CertificationStaff.pdf).

The Nebraska School Psychologists Association, a NASP affiliate, is an additional source of professional information (http://www.nspaonline.org/).