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School Psychology Certification in South Dakota: Become a School Psychologist in SD

South Dakota school psychologists are certified by the South Dakota Department of Education. The credential authorizes service in school settings with young people from infancy to age 21. Certification is based on completion of a school psychology program at the graduate level; an approved program will include a year of internship.

The Department of Education offers a lower level related credential, ‘school psychological examiner’. This certification requires a master's degree and coursework in specific areas mandated by state code.

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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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Education and Experience Requirements for School Psychologists

A prospective school psychologist must complete a graduate level school psychology program (http://legis.sd.gov/rules/DisplayRule.aspx?Rule=24:53:09:03). Current regulations state that the program must meet the 2000 standards of the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).

As per NASP standards, a program at the specialist level represents three full years of study. It includes at least 60 semester hours of coursework (with at least 54 semester hours exclusive of internship). The internship is a minimum of 1,200 hours. It takes places full-time over one year or part-time over two. At least 600 of the required hours take place in a school setting.

A student may opt for a doctoral program that meets NASP standards. A doctoral program represents at least four years of graduate study and includes at least 90 semester hours of education. At least 78 semester hours are exclusive of internship or dissertation.

A program at either level will include performance-based assessment and will prepare students to practice competently in the school psychology domains identified by NASP (http://www.nasponline.org/standards/finalstandards.pdf).

Alternate Pathway to School Psychologist Certification

South Dakota will accept NASP certification as evidence of having met educational and training requirements. The ‘NCSP’ credential is also dependent on having completed a 60 semester hour program and a 1,200 hour internship. It is not necessary to complete a NASP-approved program, but students who do not do so will have additional requirements, including submission of a professional portfolio.

Certification carries an additional requirement: a passing score on the national school psychologist examination. This exam is administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS) and is part of the Praxis II series. The minimum score on the paper-delivered version (#0401) is 165. Interested individuals can download a candidate handbook from the ETS site (http://www.ets.org/praxis/prepare/materials/0401).

The Application Process

Applications are available for download from the DOE site (http://www.doe.sd.gov/oatq/teachercert.aspx). The same application is used for teaching, administrative, and school service specialist certifications; a candidate can find a list of endorsement codes in the application packet.

It is now possible to apply online (https://apps.sd.gov/Applications/DE04Public/TeacherCertification/SDDOEOnlineApplications.aspx).

The application includes conduct questions. These cover issues such as legal and professional history and child support status. "Yes" answers will require brief explanation and, in some cases, supporting documents.

The fee is $36 for a five-year license ($60 for a ten-year license). Fees are nonrefundable.

The university will complete a sign-off form to show that program requirements were met; this form is also available on the DOE site. The applicant should provide official transcripts from all colleges and universities.

Transcripts and other supporting documentation may be mailed to the following address: Department of Education, Certification Office, 800 Governors Drive, Pierre, SD 57501.

Application status may be monitored online. The DOE notes that application processing typically takes ten weeks but may be longer in the summer.

Educational Requirements for School Psychological Examiner

A school psychological examiner will need a master's program with a concentration that is "essentially psychological in nature" (http://legis.sd.gov/rules/DisplayRule.aspx?Rule=24:15:06:35). The candidate will need to have 30 semester hours of coursework that addresses specific content requirements. Some courses may be completed at either the graduate or undergraduate level.

The candidate will need at least sixteen semester hours that cover at least five of the following:

The candidate must have at least one course in each of the following:

Additionally, the candidate will need a practicum in individual psychological evaluation.

Employment-based Criminal Background Checks

The Department of Education has stated that school districts are to carry out criminal background checks and maintain records of employees’ background check results (http://doe.sd.gov/oatq/districtaccrediation.aspx).

Renewal of School Psychologist Certification

Certification is renewed on a five year basis (http://legis.sd.gov/rules/DisplayRule.aspx?Rule=24:15:03:06). During this time, the school psychologist is to complete six semester hours of academic coursework or equivalent continuing education.

Some candidates may qualify for a ten-year initial certificate.

Additional Information

Candidates may visit the South Dakota Department of Education for current information about the certification process (http://www.doe.sd.gov/oatq/teachercert.aspx). The Certification Office may be reached by email at certification at state.sd.us or by telephone at 605-773-3426.

The South Dakota Association of School Psychologists (SDASP) is the state's professional organization and NASP affiliate (http://www.sdasp.k12.sd.us). SDASP does not issue certifications.

The National Association of School Psychologists notes that private practice requires a license issued by the South Dakota Board of Examiners of Psychologists (http://dhs.sd.gov/brd/Psychologist/default.aspx).