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Latest News about APA's Model Act
Date: Friday, January 29, 2010
Category: News

Dear State Leaders of School Psychologists:

I am emailing with the latest news about the status of APA's proposed Model Licensure Act. This message is being sent to state associations of school psychologists, SPAN members, and state credentialing point persons to keep you up-to-date about breaking information and planning for immediate and long-term related activities.

APA has kept the status of MLA under wraps for several months, and we now have received the following news:


    During fall 2009, APA's MLA Task Force prepared its final report and its proposed MLA, which were submitted to the APA Board of Directors for its December 2009 meeting. The APA Board of Directors accepted the Task Force's materials for inclusion on the agenda for the next APA Council of Representatives Meeting (February 19-21, 2010).


    In the MLA proposed for adoption by APA's Council of Representatives, language regarding the school psychologist exemption at the doctoral level is comparable to language included in the spring 2009 public comment draft: restriction of the use of the title school psychologist or certified school psychologist to only those individuals who have a doctoral degree in psychology, are certified by the state education agency, and are using the terms only during their practice in the public schools. This restriction of the title to only those at the doctoral level is, of course, unacceptable to us.


    In addition, the proposed MLA includes language that unlicensed individuals who have been certified in the area of school psychology by the state education agency or other statutory provisions (that is, specialist-level school psychologists) would be permitted to use the terms "psychology" and "psychological" in their title but not "school psychologist." Again, this restriction of "school psychologist" is unacceptable.


    The proposed MLA language notes that these individuals are restricted in their practice to those settings under the purview of the state education agency and that these provisions become effective in five years following the MLA's adoption.

Thus, the proposed MLA attempts to limit the title exemption to only those holding a doctoral degree and does NOT reflect the position of NASP and other school psychology organizations that specialist and doctoral level school psychologists may use the title "school psychologist" and engage in a wide range of school psychology practices for which they are credentialed and well-qualified. APA's removal of the MLA exemption for use of the title "school psychologist" by those at the specialist level would be an unfortunate and costly distraction for everyone, should the MLA be adopted by APA's Council of Representative. As you know, if the MLA in this form is adopted by APA's Council of Representatives, it is expected to be introduced in states and the title of school psychologist and our needed services will be at risk. This will result in state by state battles to retain our title and practice.

There is no doubt that NASP opposes the restrictive language of the school psychologist exemption in APA's proposed MLA and stands ready to respond to any attempts to impact credentialing, title, and/or practice of school psychologists and access of children to our services. Our position is that the title "SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST" may be used at the specialist and doctoral levels and that school psychologists may engage in practices for which they are credentialed and well-qualified. Further, NASP continues to support the authority of all state education agencies to credential and provide oversight for professionals who provide services in schools, including the right to use the title "school psychologist" in the SEA credential, regulate school-based practice by school psychologists, and establish standards regarding who may provide school psychological services.

As you know, NASP has been actively engaged in an effort to convince the APA MLA Task Force to retain the exemption for school psychologists credentialed by their state education agencies, which carries a 40+ year precedent and a long history of successfully serving the needs of children, families, and schools. We have been joined by other organizations in the school psychology community, virtually every major education organization at the national level, and many state organizations, including state boards of education. APA's MLA Task Force received comments in support of retaining the school psychologist exemption from about 10,000 individuals and organizations during a 2007 public comment period and about 19,000 individuals and organizations during a 2009 public comment period.

Our hope has been that APA will genuinely take into account the extensive public comments they requested and have received. However, NASP has prepared all along for the possibility that APA's MLA Task Force might not acknowledge the importance of these issues to the public good, or the profession of school psychology and school psychologists' services for children. Given the Board of Directors' acceptance of the MLA Task Force report, NASP will communicate with the APA Council of Representatives through our contacts prior to their vote and reiterate our position and that of the entire education community. It appears that there is no formal opportunity for individuals or groups to send comments to the Council. We will let you know if we learn something different.

We wanted to immediately share this basic news with you. A NASP working group is carefully considering this as fast as we can, so please stay tuned for more information. We are planning communications and next steps and are prepared for strong and comprehensive activities that mobilize NASP members and coordinate with your state association to implement state-level advocacy. Together, our strong national and state networks will facilitate implementation of strategic and effective outcomes.

We will keep you updated as the news and plans develop in the next few weeks. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you!
Patti Harrison
NASP President 2009-2010


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