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School Psychology Certification and Licensure in West Virginia: Become a School Psychologist in WV

A West Virginia school psychologist is certified by the West Virginia Department of Education. The school psychologist can also opt for licensure through the West Virginia Board of Examiners of Psychologists.

According to the National Association of School Psychologists, the Department of Education (DOE) credential authorizes only work as a W-2 employee in a school setting. A Level 1 license issued by the Board of Examiners of Psychologists authorizes contractual work. A level 2 license authorizes the professional to work outside the school system.

All school psychology credentials require graduate education. School psychologists must pass a national examination to retain certification or licensure beyond the initial period. The Board of Examiners of Psychologists has set the passing score higher than the Department of Education.

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Requirements for School Psychologist Credentialing through the DOE

A school psychology candidate must complete a master's degree in order to obtain the Initial Professional Student Support Certificate. A candidate opting for an out-of-state program should make sure that the program is housed in a regionally accredited institution and that it is approved in the state where it is located. An in-state candidate can check program approval status on the site of Teach West Virginia (http://wvde.state.wv.us/teachwv/teachprep.html).

In order to attain the Professional Student Support Certificate, the school psychologist must have a recommendation from the county superintendent (http://wvde.state.wv.us/teachwv/certification.html). The school psychologist must complete six semester hours of coursework or achieve a salary rank of ‘MA plus 30’ before advancing to this level. At least two years of experience is required; at least one year must be attained in West Virginia.

The Permanent Professional Student Support Certificate requires additional experience.

Examination Requirement for DOE Certification

The school psychologist must pass the Praxis II examination for school psychologists at the level set by the state. The minimum score on version 0401 is 148.

When new versions are introduced, the test code and score requirements typically change. Information about current DOE requirements can be found on the ‘West Virginia’ page of Educational Testing Service (https://www.ets.org/praxis/wv/requirements).

An out-of-state candidate who has not yet taken the Praxis II may be issued a temporary permit provided other requirements have been met.

The DOE Application Process

The West Virginia Department of Education requires a fingerprint-based criminal background check (http://wvde.state.wv.us/certification/forms/firstime.html). Fingerprints are to be processed by the approved vendor, L-1/ MorphoTrust. Candidates may call 855-766-7746 to schedule.

An in-state candidate may have LiveScan fingerprints made. An out-of-state candidate should request fingerprint cards from the DOE and then submit the completed cards to the vendor. The DOE notes that the processing fee (currently listed as $45.35) must be submitted to L-1/ MorphoTrust as well.

Certification applications are available on the DOE site (http://wvde.state.wv.us/certification/forms/). An in-state candidate will use Form 20-S (Initial Student Support Certification). An out-of-state licensee will use Form 20-SA. A candidate who does not have an institutional recommendation and is not employed at a West Virginia public school will need a character reference. A candidate who is employed in an educational setting should have the immediate supervisor sign.

Transcripts must be original and must bear the seal of the university. Form 7 is necessary to authorize release of background check information.

Reciprocity candidates are to include a copy of their current certification with the application materials.

The application processing fee is $25. Application materials should be mailed to the Office of Professional Preparation in Charleston. The Department of Education reports that the typical processing time is 90 days. Application status can be monitored online.

Requirements for School Psychologist Licensing

A professional can qualify for Level 1 licensing through the Board of Examiners of Psychologists with a master's degree, educational specialist degree, or Certificate of Advanced Studies; the degree must be granted by a regionally accredited institution.

The individual will need to work under supervision for three years. An internship can be credited as one year. The licensed individual's status will be Supervised School Psychologist. A Supervised School Psychologist must submit quarterly reports. Supervision must meet minimum standards set by the Board (http://www.wvpsychbd.org/17-03.pdf). A supervision contract will be due with the application.

The West Virginia Board of Examiners of Psychologists has set the Praxis II score requirement at the same level that is required for national certification by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). Currently, the minimum score is 165. Candidates who took the examination prior to September 2008 may have taken a version where the threshold score was 660. A new version goes into effect in September 2014.

Like NASP, the West Virginia Board will accept scores up to nine years old.

Candidates who have not yet met the testing requirement can begin working under supervision. However, they will need to attempt the examination during the first twelve months that they hold the Supervised School Psychologist credential. They will need to pass the examination within two years of their application.

At the end of the supervision period, a candidate will have an oral examination. The candidate will need to submit practice samples and other required materials at least 30 days in advance of the oral examination.

A candidate is eligible for a Licensed School Psychologist Independent Practitioner (Level 2) license with a master's, CAS, Ed,.D, or doctoral degree (http://www.wvpsychbd.org/Licensure%20Info%202010.pdf). However, school psychologists with education below the doctoral level will need additional supervised experience. They will first fulfill supervision requirements for Level 1. They will complete two additional years of supervised practice. During this time, they will attain advanced competencies: among them duty issues, client abandonment issues, and supervision. It is recommended that the Level 2 Supervised-School Psychologist gain experience in a private practice setting. This must be in accordance with West Virginia laws and rules. A candidate who works in a private practice setting will need work co-signed by the supervisor.

An individual with a doctoral degree does not need to meet supervision requirements at Level 1. However, at least one year of supervision will be required at Level 2. A professional with a doctoral degree who has not completed a qualifying internship will need to complete two years of supervised practice while working under the Board-issued credential.

Eligible individuals are advised to contact the Board for application materials. They may call 304-558-3040 or email psychbd at wv.gov. A mailing address will be required.

Additional Information

The Department of Education lists Trent Danowski as the contact person for support personnel licenses. Additional contacts are listed on the 'Educator Certification' page of the Department of Education website (http://wvde.state.wv.us/certification/). The DOE has provided a toll-free certification line: 1-800-982-2378.

The National Association of School Psychologists lists Lanai Jennings-Knotts as the state consultant.

The West Virginia School Psychologists Association is an additional resource for professionals (http://wvspa.org).